Over half of the countries fruits, vegetables, and nuts are grown in the Central Valley of California and it is known for being one of the most productive regions in the world. It is, therefore, no surprise that the Central Valley is home to new and cutting-edge technology which is destined to have a large impact on the agricultural industry in the US and abroad for years to come. One of these new impactful technologies is currently in the final stages of development on my family’s farm near Lemoore, CA. I have been fortunate enough to have a front seat during the development process and enjoy the progress that’s been made.
My family’s farming operation, AZCAL Management Company, comprises grapes, pistachios, cotton, tomatoes and other row crops. Led by mechanical engineer Connor Kingman, CEO of Kingman Ag Services, we have focused on developing a driverless tractor to service our vineyards and orchards. By having a driverless tractor that operates with specific, set parameters, we will be able to achieve more accuracy and efficiency in our jobs and applications, leading to optimizations from an environmental, agronomic and cost-savings standpoint.
On Wednesday June 12th, 2019 we held a demonstration in my dad, Ted Sheely’s, vineyard which was very well attended. Many of the attendees commented on how they felt that this exact concept could have a major place in their operation. At Agworld we are always looking at technology that can advance agriculture, and we feel like this could definitely be part of the puzzle for many growers. In the end, it’s all about remaining profitable and reducing risk for growers, and this technology can definitely contribute both areas.
By modifying an existing tractor, instead of designing a completely new machine, the costs can be kept low and most materials and spare parts are available from local machinery dealerships. The Kingman Driverless Tractor uses cameras and Lidar for navigation, so no expensive GPS system and infrastructure is needed either. The driverless tractor boasts an extra-large fuel tank which enables it to run for 72 hours before needing fuel. By not needing a driver or regular refuelling and other attention, the driverless tractor is sure to deliver significant cost savings to growers.
Scaling your farm while managing risk requires efficient and timely processes supported by the right data. The Agworld Platform enables growers to automate their workflow and aids them in critical farm-data collection and insights with the goal of improving their profitability. At Agworld, we constantly scope out new technologies and evaluate them on the merits they might have for growers throughout the country. Finding these new technologies to connect to the platform and support this process is a constant priority and, I might add, something our team genuinely enjoys doing!
See the short clip above for an impression of the field day. If you’d like more information about the Kingman Driverless Tractor or any other technology we might be able to help you with please don’t hesitate to contact me!