Autonomous farming is already starting to be a reality on Saskatchewan fields.
At the Canada Farm Progress Show(CFPS) this year, DOT, an autonomous machine that powers and moves farming equipment will be on display. Right beside it will be the Pattison Liquid Systems (PLS) connect sprayer.
“All the farmer or the operator is required to do is to fill it up once it’s empty,” President of PLS, Rick Pattison said. “It creates a whole new lifestyle for a farmer where he can go to his kid’s ball game, go to his daughter’s dance recital or just sit and watch television while this equipment is out doing the work in the field.”
Although it’s not the first time PLS has been at the show, the Lemburg, Sask. company will be showcasing their brand new sprayer that has a 120 foot boom with 1600 USG tank. Once in the same place as DOT, it effortlessly connects and is ready for the producer to start working their crop.
“No cab, no steering wheel,” Pattison said. “When we get it to the field, a producer determines a plan to travel in the field (by a digital GPS map) and then it autonomously drives and does whatever function it’s loaded up with. In our case, it would be applying fertilizer or crop spraying.”
The unit has had many test runs in the fields surrounding Lemburg, but Pattison hopes to get a couple more done come the fall. He plans to take it down to Arizona so that they can have a full season of testing before it hits the market next year.
Pattison admits most human beings, including producers, resist change. But, he feels as though this type of machinery and technology is the future of farming.
As for when a person would see autonomous farming as they drive across the land of the living skies, Pattison said they follow the same path as DOT.
“Without the DOT platform, our sprayer doesn’t do much except look pretty I guess … we’ll be producing for next year and we’re already taking orders now actually.”
Along with the sprayer, PLS is also working on a fertilizer applicator coulter attachment for DOT. Pattison said that attachment will be rolling out the door in a couple of weeks.
CFPS starts Wednesday and runs through Friday. You can find the connect sprayer at booth 5001 – right outside the front doors of the International Trade Centre.