How Autonomous Machinery Will Change Your Farm
5 Jan 2437 min 47 sec

Intelligent labor — as Matt Miles calls it — is always a challenge to find, hire, and keep employed. With equipment costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can’t just turn anyone loose in your fields. Labor is one compelling case for autonomous machinery but issues of economics, timeliness, and environment are other reasons autonomy will change your farm. Soon!  Brandon Montgomery, Brand Manager for Fendt  joins Matt and Damian for this future-looking episode.

Presented by Advanced Drainage Systems

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00:00 How will autonomous machinery change your farming operation in the near future? That's what we're talking about in this episode 00:08 of extreme Ag Cutting the curve. Welcome to extreme Ag Cutting the Curve podcast, where you get a guaranteed return on investment of your time 00:19 as we cut your learning curve with the information you can apply to your farming operation immediately. 00:25 Extreme ag, we've already made the mistakes so you don't have to. Managing your farm's water resources is a critical component 00:34 to a successful and sustainable farming operation. Advanced drainage systems helps farmers just like you increase their yields up to 30% 00:43 with their technologically advanced water management products. Visit ad s to see 00:50 how they can keep your business flowing. Now, here's your host, Damien Mason. Hey there. Welcome to another fantastic episode 00:58 of extreme Ag Cutting the curve. I got Matt Miles, one of the founding fathers of Extreme Ag McGee, Arkansas. 01:03 He's got, uh, quite the farming operation going. In fact, he just worked with some Fent equipment over this last year 01:10 and I was down there to film stuff with him. And so that's why we thought he'd be appropriate to be on here with, uh, the brand manager 01:17 for Fent, Brandon Montgomery. Okay. Autonomous machinery. We've been hearing about it for a while. 01:23 Uh, I went to the, uh, the, the event in Ohio that's this big outdoor farm event, I think they call it, uh, you know, farm. 01:32 It's their version of farm progress show, if you will. And we're gonna see the first autonomous tractor. And it looked like someone took a case IH tractor 01:40 and took a blowtorch and cut the, the cab off of it and said, see, we made it a autonomous machine. I'm like, this is kinda a letdown, folks. 01:46 That's not really where I think the future's going. It was the prototype, if you will, Brandon. We're gonna have autonomous machinery. 01:54 And I don't think it, I don't think it looks exactly like what we think it looks like still, 01:58 but I want you to tell me where we're going with this. It's a great question. I think everybody has their own interpretation of what autonomous machinery looks like. 02:10 Is it something like you saw without a cab? Is it the same piece of equipment that you have today, but there's just no operator inside the cab? 02:19 Is it a swarm of small, tiny machines that go out and do the job? What does that look like? And I think everybody's got a 02:27 different vision of what that looks like. Our vision with inside Fent is to begin the phases of automating the, the crop cycle 02:38 for our farmers. And inside of that is many different cycles from, you know, spring tillage to planting, to crop care, to harvesting. 02:48 And we gotta take each of those carefully on how we progress through it. Um, we're also doing a retrofit path as well too. 02:57 So we will also, in parallel to that, we want to free up the mindset for the customers that you can also do this with your current piece 03:06 of machinery too, and not force you into trading into something brand new that is only has that capability. So we've got a kind of a dual path associated with this 03:16 to solve, um, some of the big challenges that our farmers are facing. Before we hit the record button, Matt, I said, 03:23 when you said, uh, well I'm gonna make sure I know what my role is, I said, well, you're the farmer. You're the guy that has a bunch of employees. 03:29 You a bunch of acres to get over some of the acres. You go over a lot. You're a cotton producer. And you told me the smart I've, I've learned 03:36 so much from my buddy Matt Miles. First off, cotton as according to who Matt's dad is, a plant that looks for a reason to die every day. 03:43 And he says, Damon, we go over this. We go over this cotton acre, uh, like about every seven days. 03:48 So at the point I'm saying here is rice, uh, you, you know, you've got a lot of tons that come off of that corn. 03:54 Got a lot of tons that come off of that, which means you're gonna be moving a lot of grain away from the combine. 03:59 Then you've got obviously your sprayer trips, and then you've got, uh, plants like cotton that you're going across every other every week. 04:07 You've got a lot of different reasons to go across those acres. You've got a lot of acres to cover. 04:11 You've got employees, you've got machinery. The point is technology should answer the answer, the problem that you have versus answering something 04:22 that some theoretical guy in a lab came up with. Your problem point blank is you've got a lot of acres to cover and you can't always get employees to do it. 04:32 I think that's one of the problems you have. Yeah. And of course, you know, that's, that's a growing concern in any business for sure. 04:39 But it's even especially a growing concern in the, in the ag business. And I can even go further than that. 04:45 If you're Chad Henderson living in, in Huntsville, Alabama, you know, and he's living around 25 factories, you know, 04:52 the competition for labor in, in the less rural areas that people are still farming in even makes that worse. But one of our number one concerns, number one expenses 05:03 is always gonna be labor. And it's not just, you know, labor, it's, it's, it's intelligent labor. 05:10 Because even to run the, that fent tractor that, that I demoed, I, I walked up there to try to start it. You were there and I threw a little temper tantrum. 05:18 I had to call my 30-year-old son and say, how do you start this thing? You know, so, so this new equipment, even out 05:25 of the autonomy, uh, arena is so scientific now. We'll have three computers and a tractor doing three different things. 05:33 We may have three applications going, you know, when we're planning. So, uh, you know, it it, it, it's already evolved to that. 05:40 And, and the autonomy side's even gonna, if, if it works, and I wanna say this, the two biggest mistakes I've learned 05:46 of, of comments that I've made in my lifetime is that will never happen and it will never work on my farm. I've said that all through my farming career 05:56 and been proven wrong every time. So when the autonomy side come out, I'm like, I'm gonna embrace this. 06:01 It's gonna happen. I'm gonna figure out how to make it work, Brandon, it is gonna work. 06:06 Probably we're still some getting through some kinks. That's fine. Technology always, you know, seems to wi prevail. 06:13 You know, John, John Henry v versus the steam shovel to, uh, to carve through the mountain, the steam shovel one. 06:20 I wonder if kids even know those fabless anymore. But anyway, Uh, Anyway, Mery rhyme fable. 06:27 I'm not sure what the hell it is. Tall tale. Anyway, the point is, um, it's probably gonna happen and it's probably gonna work. 06:34 But again, there's, there's the, the need right now. Matt has people to do the work, but also it's a lot of work. I mean, sometimes you're out there like 16 hour days 06:46 and as much as we pride ourselves in our work ethic in agriculture mm-hmm, It's Autonomy come to us 06:51 because it shortens the workload or what, what is the promise besides the labor issue, is that the number one thing? 07:00 We hear it from so many farmers throughout the nation. You know, they tell us, like you just said, Matt, it's not just labor, it's skilled labor, you know, to build, 07:09 to run these piece of machinery. 'cause they have a lot of technology that's available for 'em. 07:15 And oftentimes you don't even get to utilize the full capabilities of that machine until you go through every single button 07:21 and every single menu on the tv, you know, the monitors and screens. Um, there's a couple different 07:27 things that we're trying to do. You know, we're, we're trying to make it easier for the operator, just like guidance. 07:33 Did you know, you, you take guidance systems 15 years ago, they were clunky, um, hard to set up. 07:39 Sometimes they were difficult to see the satellites you got times when they didn't work and work, and you're nothing more frustrated than, than 07:47 what you were at that moment. Like, well just get it off there. I can plant straight, you know, 07:51 and I can plant straighter than, than this thing can do. Now today, how many pieces of machinery are sold without 07:59 steering systems on 'em? Right? It gives you a level of comfort that, you know, you, you can go home at night and still feel fresh. 08:07 We're gonna, you know, we've done a lot of work when it comes to automating what the operator does, you know, even turning on the headland 08:15 for them, for example. Um, being able to automate the lifting and lowering of implements 08:22 and all the multiple functions so the operator doesn't have to press all those buttons and switches autonomy and, 08:30 and sorry, those, those things will bring the level of comfort, you know, additionally to the operator. Autonomy is about shrinking those important windows. Okay? 08:40 So I'm, I'm pick on just one part of the crop cycle specifically here with harvesting. You know, I've had many farmers tell me, Hey, 08:47 I can plant 5,000 acres, you know, in the springtime with two guys in the fall. I need an army, takes an army to get that crop out. 08:55 There's so much ton to get out there. So how do I get the level of people out there, you know, whether it's H two A contracts, you know, kids from, um, 09:06 high school nearby to pull out their cousins, uncles, friends, buddies, you know, and then also to run that piece of machinery 09:14 that they may not be familiar with or used to with from what they grew up. Autonomy is, I think where the real value is, 09:22 is shrinking down and compressing those windows for you and giving you a way to scale up your workforce when you need those. 09:32 Peak labor times harvesting is one of those times specifically, um, we, the value you see in that, okay, because we're always up against the race, against the clock. 09:43 If you're harvesting and you've got the cotton, for example, and it's, you know, trying to die every single day, 09:50 or you got your rice coming in with, you know, hurricane winds and you know you're gonna start dropping, you know, 09:56 kernels on the ground, you're up against mother nature all the time. So that window of time opportunity, 10:03 if you don't get it harvested, what does that cost you? If I've got somebody sick on the farm that can't run that grain cart and help me unload this combine, well, 10:13 I've got a piece of machinery that's going out there that's costing me $300 an hour that I can't utilize and maximize it to keep going up and down the field. 10:21 But if I had somebody that could run the grain cart tractor and keep that machine going all the time, 10:27 and I don't need to worry about it if somebody's sick or not, then you can keep that window compressed. And that's, I think what autonomy really brings, um, 10:35 to the table being in more than anything. Okay. By the way, we've, we're on the, we've been on the road to autonomy for a while. 10:42 The machines that, uh, that we looked at, the one that Matt Miles couldn't start. I couldn't either, by the way. Uh, um, 10:52 It's Already, it's already smart, you know, it's already a smart machine. It's got three computer screens. 10:58 It's monitoring things that I wouldn't even, you know, it's doing stuff that I'm not even, boom, it's amazing. So we're already on the road to it. 11:07 Doing it already does a bunch of stuff. How far is it until it drives itself and, and then it's gonna become the task? 11:14 Which, which Matt, what's the first thing you see? What's the first thing you see auto, uh, being automatized? Grain cart is one thing I've heard. 11:24 Fertilizer application is one thing I've heard. Uh, you tell me. What do you think? Well, we can, we already have the capability 11:32 of sinking our cart with our combine and, and if we've got the right operator in there, most of our carts are operated based to a workers. 11:40 And, and so it's taken a little more time, but we'll take one of our, our more skilled labor and put him in a cart and we'll sink it to the combine. 11:49 That's autonomy 1 0 1 right there. That cart's going over there. Combine of carts talking to each other. 11:55 The, you know, the, the combine operator does push the button to unload the cart. I mean, unload the combine in the cart, 12:00 but the cart sitting there running on its own, you just let go. So, I mean, it's pretty neat. 12:05 And, and a lot of what Brandon said, those, those that you've gotta hit, those things you gotta do, that's the most important. 12:12 Uh, you know, that's when it's really gonna be, uh, very important. Now, my opinion, the combine operator, 12:19 and he brought up combine not the cart, which is exactly the way I feel the Combine operator is. And, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna make some of my friends mad. 12:29 One of the least most important things that, that's running during harvest, because it's sitting out 12:34 there just harvesting the crop. Most of the combines are very automated. Yeah. Uh, so the guy on the cart is gotta be there 12:42 to get the load, take it back to the truck, put it in the right truck, get the tag to the truck, tell him where to go next. 12:49 So in my opinion, if you can get the harvester as, as an autonomous, autonomous vehicle, that is, that's pretty impressive 12:57 because then you take your other skilled labor and they can go figure out what you gotta do with that Grain combine's just cutting the grain 13:03 and putting it into somebody that's gotta make the decision, you know, where it goes. 13:07 And Prime example is a round bale cotton picker. You know, I ran cotton pickers my whole life and I panicked with what Brandon said. 13:15 I, we, we started with one round Bale and I, and I didn't even think about this till the middle of the season, and I thought, if Chris gets sick, who, 13:23 who's gonna run the picker? No one else on the farm know how to run the picker. You know, today we're running two pickers 13:29 and there's seven people that know how to operate them. But basically I get on a million dollar machine and, and I punch a few buttons, 13:37 and other than turning around on the end, that's all I do. Yeah. So we're getting a, a small amount of autonomy 13:46 in the last five years, seven years, you know, it's been working up. So, hey, I was in San Francisco last week 13:52 and I seen Ubers running around without a driver that, that opened my eyes. I saw that also, uh, 13:58 here way Waymo or something like that. And I, I saw a kid get out of it. I said, you just get out of a car with no driver. 14:04 He said, yeah, it's awesome. Nobody tried to talk to me. So Brandon, we're, we're kind of on the path to this. 14:12 We've already, we've had guidance systems for what, at least 15 years with GPS, et cetera. Uh, you know, auto steer, uh, now Matt talking about sinking 14:21 between the grain cart and the combine. We're not far away, but then there's the thing that makes you, uh, pause. 14:30 My God, this thing drives, and then it does have a failure and it drives across the road and kills somebody. 14:36 Um, this thing goes and, um, spray, uh, dumps a load in a, in a creek, and all of a sudden we now have, uh, a hazmat situation 14:49 because we just dumped a bunch of concentrated chemical on a creek. I'm just talking about the worst case scenario 14:53 that some person might, uh, come up with. Is it overblown? I don't think so, because it only takes one loss of life. 15:02 Right. And those, those are the things that keep us up as an OEM at night, as well as the security of the technology systems too. 15:12 You know, so being able to treat that highly secure so somebody can't take it over is, is a concern that you, that we need to absorb, that our customers don't need to. 15:24 We wanna make sure that you never have to worry about something like that. Somebody hacking into the system 15:29 and starting to drive your machine without you actually knowing it. Um, So you think the, in the, 15:34 the engineering department over there at Fent, um, they, they're in their white lab coats. 15:39 They're in the lab. They've got their beakers in their and their crucibles. Okay. I'm not sure what it really looks like. 15:46 Is it, is it safety? I mean, is that the one thing that's the, is that the one thing that gets the, 15:52 that concerns us about turning machines loose? Matt just said he's in, he's in one of the largest cities in America. 15:59 I'm in Phoenix, one of the largest cities in America. And I see cars driving around with some kid sitting in the back on his Twitter feed, 16:06 and I current got no driver. So maybe we're overblowing this technology somehow has a safety hiccup potential. 16:13 Yeah. And it's also a lot different too, from an off-road vehicle stance, obviously with, uh, on highway use. 16:20 You, you know, you've got your legislation, you've got, you know, drivers in the seat of that car with other passengers, obviously in the field itself. 16:29 You know, if we could isolate it just to the field boundaries, that's a lot easier problem to solve than it is for that piece of machinery 16:36 to drive from one field to, you know, 25 miles away to the next field, for example. Um, those, we cross a lot 16:43 of more barriers when it comes to legalities. Now, could we farm autonomously today? Yes, absolutely. You know, we're with the automation level you have 16:56 inside those machines, and you talked about it earlier out, how much technologies inside that fent, you know, 17:02 those are things you can do today. What's different, however, is the use cases from every farm. So where Matt Miles is in Arkansas, you know, 17:10 big fields is a lot different than North Dakota fields than it is from Germany fields and, and Bavaria for example. 17:17 So field shapes and sizes dictate a lot of how we route plan these machines and get them coordinated together inside that actual farm. 17:27 I think we've got a long ways to go, yet when it comes to moving machines from farm to farm, for example, versus, you know, you're in the field. 17:35 How do we automate that specifically without drivers inside? That's more achievable, more attainable in the short term. 17:42 All right. You talked about Chad Henderson. We've been to his place, he's a mile away from factories and then, uh, housing units are being built. 17:50 If, if he wants somebody that's semi-skilled, uh, he's gonna have to pay up because they can go over and work in construction. 17:56 They can work at one of those factories running a machine, et cetera. And probably be, it'd be a little bit easier hours. 18:02 'cause you know, you're not gonna have to run like hell when it's spring planting, whatever, you're in McGee, Arkansas, 18:08 there's not housing units going up. There's not factories all over the place. It's not nearly as, uh, residentially developed 18:15 or as commercially developed as where he is. So the question I'd say is I understand why Chad needs autonomy to get without having to worry about employees. 18:25 Why do you struggle with it where you are? But you still have to go outta the country and get employees, Matt? So why is that? 18:31 Yeah, well, I mean, it's just, it, like I said, it's, it is one of the number one concerns in agriculture probably in any business today. 18:39 Uh, you know, ev no one wants to be a blue collar worker anymore. You know, they all want to go, everybody wants to go 18:45 to college, whether they can make it or not, and they wanna sit behind a desk and they want everything already granted to 'em. 18:50 They feel like they've already earned that. So, you know, you take a plumber, a carpenter, a guy that works on the farm, those guys are starting, 18:58 we're starting to have a shortage of them, those guys. That's why we're going out of the country to get, you know, the employees we have. 19:04 But anytime you can take human error out of something you're doing, and, and it's proved me wrong, you know, 19:12 we've got a com computer generated irrigation scheduling program, and I've lost a lot of betts on that saying 19:18 that won't work as good as what I can do it, you know, RTK. Now, maybe in the first days, as Brandon said, it wasn't 19:25 as good, but you take guidance today and if a guy says he can outdo the guidance or something wrong 'cause he can't do it, and the, 19:32 and the tighter he gets during the day and the more cell phones he's on, the worse that gets. So if you can take autonomy 19:39 and it's back to the, the old word, we all use precision farming, you know, there there'll be things on that machine 19:46 that will outdo what the human will do. I hate to say it. Yeah. But I've been proved wrong so many times, 19:51 you know, is there challenges? You know, we've got a lot of drainage and woodlots and trees and water, you know, I can't envision how that's gonna work, 20:00 but I couldn't envision, um, you know, some of the things we've done with just the technology we've had and it still worked. 20:07 Yeah. It's, it's, you, you see it from the perspective that you've always seen it from. And that is the, the stumbling block to see it. 20:17 How it would be from a completely different perspective. It's the old thing if you wanna change things a 20:21 little bit, change what you do. If you wanna change things big, change how you see things. And that's really what you're talking about, Matt. 20:27 You see things from the guy you've been, been there your whole life. We're it, 20:31 We asked you that Damon for me versus a guy in South Dakota, you know, Lee Farms with the one, maybe two employees. 20:41 Now what Brandon said is true. Then when you get to harvest, you gotta have eight other people. 20:45 Where you gonna get those eight people? They haven't been on a tractor in a year. You've changed your complete operation. 20:51 You know, we have to have a lot of those guys for irrigation. So it's probably not going to be as an much of advantage 20:59 to me as the guy that's farming with two or three employees, but the fatigue that you're putting on those employees. 21:04 Or maybe, maybe you go to two shifts, maybe you run, you can run 24 hours a day with economy where you can't do that with a human being. 21:12 So there's still advantages for me, even though I don't, I still have to have a certain amount of employees, 21:18 Right? So the autonomy, we said, we asked the question and we promised how autonomous machinery will change your farm. 21:26 So let's start getting into that, Brandon, how's it gonna change the farm? It's gonna be different by type of farm. 21:32 It's gonna be different by Matt, you know, versus tell me how it's gonna change my farm, his farm, their farm, because it's already hacking happening incrementally, 21:45 but it's not happening equally. Yeah, that's, it's a good point. And that's where you get in the, the question mark of 21:53 what does autonomy look like to you? What's your vision of autonomy? And everybody has a different answer on that. R 21:59 Two, D two, R 2D two. I want a little round robot. Yeah. That runs around the farm. 22:05 Yeah. And maybe that's what it is, right? Maybe it's, um, you know, a robot inside the cab with a tractor driving instead of a human, you know, um, 22:15 maybe it's a, a tiny little swarm vehicle, for example. I'll give you two use cases. Um, I think that kind of resonated to me. 22:23 Uh, I grew up on, you know, a family farm in Nebraska, northeast Nebraska, and you know, we, we lost our family farm 22:30 because, you know, uh, things don't always work out, right between relationships. Um, one use case for example, so typically a, 22:41 a farmer, you know, a family owned farm, it's dad, it's son, and it, you've got a, a big window to try and hit 22:47 and these guys are trying to cover more acres just to absorb the input costs that have gone up so much. So input costs have gone up, machinery costs have gone up, 22:55 so they gotta cover more acres. Well, how do you do that with the same two people that you've got? 22:59 Um, I talked to one guy in northern Illinois. He told me, you know what, if, if I had autonomy on the grain cart, 23:06 I could have been running the semi-truck when my dad was running the combine. 23:10 And we could have kept that combine going and got done three weeks earlier. I could have saved the farm in that case. 23:17 They lost the farm, they couldn't manage it, couldn't hold the acres, and the cost was, was absorbent. So that's o one thing 23:25 that really resonated in my own heartstrings of like, man, that that really rang true. 23:30 I mean, that could have helped me out on my own farm to keep the farm growing up. Another use case, I think time, 23:36 Time timeliness of getting the work done, autonomy can help, uh, someone that's undersized. Does this help, does this help big operators 23:45 or small operators, or is it, is it equal in its ability to be a benefit? Well, the key word he said is three weeks early 23:54 and three weeks early in most of the United States is, is is a difference in making or breaking? What happens, Matt, if you, if you got your grain earlier, 24:04 and let's pick maybe a small grain in this example, I, I don't know rice that well, but you harvest it at a better moisture, you got less losses 24:13 and a better quality. And sometimes you can get a premium on that when you sell to the elevator. 24:17 So how much money you make in addition to that, plus you're, you're not having that stress of the harvest. 24:24 'cause as that harvest window goes on and on and on, you know, that's when the losses come in. Mother natures comes in and you're more susceptible 24:32 and you're just the sitting duck out there waiting for things to happen. Um, I think that's one use case. 24:36 And I, and I don't think there's one size that fits all with, with all of this. You know, that's a, a smaller family farm operation. 24:44 Let's take a bigger operation now. For example, just coordination, you know, the effectiveness and coordination inside the same field. 24:53 Oftentimes you got multiple machines, 2, 3, 4 combines coordinating with 2, 3, 4 grain cart operators and how many tractors and the inefficiencies you may have 25:06 inside that, that same window or, you know, may cause accidents or, you know, things happen, for example. 25:12 That's another use case. Um, and I'll finish on one more. I think, you know, 25:18 we're in a 24 hour a day society now, you know, not, not too many people sleep, right? So, um, the ability for application equipment 25:28 to spray at nighttime I think is super important too, because during the daytime it's so windy. And those windows to get fungicide 25:35 applied, herbicide applied. Well, not to mention where in case you haven't heard this, Brandon, Matt Farms in a part of, 25:42 you think there's 50 states, and you even probably have heard of most of them. You've never heard of the state called little Vietnam. 25:48 That's where he farms. That's where monsoon. Monsoon or drive, right? So if he's trying to spray, if he's trying 25:53 to spray at two 30 in the afternoon in July or August, there's either going to be, uh, locusts, uh, python snakes, uh, could be uh, could be a typhoon. 26:07 Uh, it could be 106 degrees and 99% humidity. You've never even ate. You've never understood. He's, you know what I think he does, he kind 26:15 of overcompensates our friend temple always has to carry on about how good a farmer he has to be to work up in Maryland. 26:22 'cause the environmental regulations or something. He's always got something. And then Matt had to overcompensate and like, yeah, 26:29 well you think you got it bad? I farm in little Vietnam. That's what he says. He Can't spray, he can't spray at 26:35 three in the afternoon where he lives. I will vouch for that 'cause it's like 106 degrees. I'm not, I'm not excited about beating snakes off the 26:42 sprayer steps to get in the cab by any means, but that's exactly what happens. You know, Matt, you speak to it here, you know, specifically 26:49 that those, those are the things when it's midnight to 6:00 AM and the winds die down and you're going, man, I could have got this done. 26:58 That's when it matters. Yes. And what's that, that cost of opportunity, cost, cost. You, those are the calculations that need to be done. 27:08 Oh, autonomous. Even the condition of the spraying, like the, the efficacy of the spray. So if I'm trying to spray in the 27:15 afternoon, we have to do that. You know, the, the heat, you know, the efficacy of what we're trying to put out, 27:21 it cuts it, you know, it cuts it down. So yeah, if we could go out there and spray at night, you know, I'm scared 27:26 to let my 120 foot booms out there at night with tree lines and everything else. But if we're looking at true autonomy, you know, 27:33 we can set those sprayers up at night and, and, and get an atrocious amount done. And not only back to your comment on the harvest, you know, 27:42 there's a huge yield difference in planting my beans in March and there is planting 'em in may not including the risk of the harvest. 27:50 So there's, there's everything points back to this would be advantage to every farmer. So do you, are You double cropping? 27:59 We do small, yeah, we do do, He's gonna do less this year. Uh, 2024. And we covered that in another episode. 28:05 So thank you Brandon. Basically that's a segue to let me promote all of the awesome episodes in case you're listening to this. 28:11 We did an episode, me and Matt, about why he's going to do way less double cropping because it turns out he can, 28:18 with wheat prices being a little depressed, he can make more money off of planting conventional soybeans early versus putting in 28:24 wheat and then following them late season for double crop soybeans, or as he calls them wheat beans. 28:29 Anyway, go and check that out, dear listener. Awesome episodes that we've produced, uh, here at the business of Eric, I'm sorry, 28:35 at the, uh, cutting the Curve podcast. Um, could you do me a favor then? We talked about planting a planter then could be autonomous 28:42 and it could be running more hours of the day, which would then help you out by getting your planting down early, which makes yield 28:48 for Matt at some point. You, you gotta go to bed at some point. You gotta, you gotta, you know, take a break. 28:55 Then we talked about timeliness of, uh, spraying. You could utilize the cooler less windy evening hours to your sprayer. 29:04 So I've heard a lot about timeliness. That seems like the big one we've heard about labor saving. How else will autonomous machinery change my farm? 29:13 I'm sure Matt. Um, I bet all of your soil types are identical across all of your footprint and everything's easy, right? 29:22 I'm not Kelly Garrett. He has, he has, he has, he has this thing called sharky clay. I don't know what it is, but if you take a trench 29:30 and go through it, the chunks roll up and they're about the size of a fender on a 57 Chevy. So, so you think about the incon inconsistencies even 29:41 across, you know, the road from one field to another field, the, I think there's gonna be a way just like, you know, 29:49 if you're mowing your yard, you got a big lawnmower and you got a little lawnmower to get it done, to get those fringe edge, I think there's, you know, 29:58 maybe call this the fourth use case of smaller fleet machinery that are autonomous that can work together to get those fringe areas 30:06 that you may not been able to get to because your machines are too big and too heavy for the big open fields that you've got today 30:11 that you have to have to cover those. So if in parallel you can do everything at one time with two different systems, you can keep you 30:20 and retain your big machines for the big fields and then maybe have an addition to that, some smaller machines to cover the tough areas of soil types 30:28 that are just so extreme. You can't get it, but you know, you need to get it done and that'll boost up your yield 30:34 and improve your, your, um, overall efficiencies as well too. So 30:39 Yeah, I don't disagree with that. Great. I heard spraying, I heard planting, um, tillage, which we still do more tillage than we probably should. 30:46 Some places is more called for is autonomous machinery. It seems that it would get harder. I can see it doing, I can see it planting, 30:58 I can see it spraying some things where you're pulling a bunch of implements. Seems like it's harder for my brain to wrap 31:04 around autonomously accomplishing that task. Am I wrong to think that I call it the autonomous tractor. 31:14 So whatever implement it's pulling, you can have a, the same tractor you have today without a driver into it. So whether it's pulling a planter, um, 31:23 if it can do a planter, it can definitely do tillage, for example, without the driver in it. If it can do tillage, it can do, you know, 31:30 an advanced step like grain cart tending for example. Or it can pull potentially a pull type sprayer if you don't have, you know, the option for a big self-propel machine. 31:41 So I think, you know, phrasing it up as an autonomous tractor, you think about all the jobs that that tractor does, it can do those equally as well 31:50 because it has the automation steps inside to already handle multiple functions at one time. Turning on the headland, raising the implement, 32:00 lowering the implement, the things that you do with your fingers that we can already program today. Those things we can do. It's just now removing 32:07 that driver out of the cab to run it at any hours of the day. Matt, does it help yields, I mean we talked about 32:14 how autonomous machinery is gonna change your farm. Is it gonna change it for the better in terms of things like yield, in terms of, uh, and 32:22 and natural resource, um, uh, conservation? Um, is it gonna change it? I'm just thinking through things that 32:32 beyond just getting a driver out of the seat, does it change it for the better for those things? Well, when you 32:38 Can hit those windows, you know, as Brandon was talking about, that's gonna increase yield and, and soil type, I can see that when you started bringing 32:46 that up, you know, we'll have five soil types in the same field. Yep. So the lower end will be real heavy. 32:52 You know, if you can have a smaller machine doing the work there that, you know, it's not so spongy on. 32:56 You have your bigger machines and the better dirt, you know, I could see that would be a, a benefit to get the whole field planted at one time instead 33:04 of waiting three or four days for the lower end to dry up, then you've got one of 'em too dry, one of 'em too wet, 33:10 you know, you never can get that together. Uh, the disadvantages I see in, in a field with soil types like that 33:17 where you're talking about the fingers, you know, there's still a human element where you turn around on the end and you're like, I gotta pick this up. 33:24 Just one click, you know? Mm-Hmm. So teal or, or whatever. So, you know, that's gonna be a human side 33:32 that the machine wouldn't be able to detect. I say it wouldn't, like I said, I've been proved wrong many times. 33:38 Uh, but, you know, getting that, getting that crop in, I'm not gonna just say early on beans mine's the early deal, getting the crop in on time. 33:46 Yeah. You know, in that timely window. So if autonomy helps with that, uh, you know, and, and that's where some of the night applications come in. 33:55 You know, if you could put a, and, and that, and that was a question I had for Brennan. Do you see it having a cab? 34:01 You know, you, you mentioned going from field to field 25 miles. You're gonna need something for that guy to be able 34:07 to maybe get it there. Is there times that way you could use it both ways? I I think it's, uh, you know, 34:14 and those are the questions like when you ask what does it look like, there's not a cookie cutter approach to it because automating that, you know, tender 34:23 to a sprayer that's difficult to do. Somebody's still gotta get out, hook up the nozzle, pump the water in and chemicals inside, right? 34:30 And then you can let the sprayer go, for example. So Brandon, get me outta here. Autonomous machinery will change your farm. 34:36 That's the last question. This isn't just that I have to go and acquire brand new stuff. 34:41 I see this and this is part of the, the, maybe the Trimble tie and whatever. You're gonna have retrofit technology that can go into 34:51 a five-year-old machine that I already have and make it autonomous. I'm assuming 34:56 How it can help your farm. And the investments that I see our CEO making, you know, Eric Zoya, our CEO, his vision is to 35:06 automate the full crop cycle by 2030. You know, he is come out and publicly stating that how he's doing that 35:12 to make those steps available is a dual path approach. So we're definitely gonna offer those vehicles ready from the factory where we can order that 35:21 as a new machine available that you can get today, um, with that capability. But in parallel to that, it's that retrofit capability. 35:29 So if you got a machine today and like you just said, Matt, I don't wanna spend the upgrade cost just to get a piece 35:35 of autonomous, a piece of machinery, it cost an arm and a leg. Well, we've got the capability to retrofit those solutions. 35:43 Um, we made huge investments into that. Um, some of those companies that we've acquired, one of them is JCA that we've acquired. 35:51 We saw that live working in the field not too far from Matt actually in Kentucky where we had the autonomous tractor 35:58 pulling the grain cart and then also running the, the baler. Um, picking up windrows. Those were such solutions. 36:06 We had the base machine that we added this retrofit capability to, to make it even smarter 36:11 and to give it that competitive edge. There's some things you can't do. Like, you may not be able to have all the bells 36:16 and whistles, but sometimes you want GPS in your 1984 and Ricky Cougar and you get that with the Tom Tom, right? So you may not have all the bells and whistles 36:25 and luxury that you've got on your current machine, but it gives you that flexibility. And I think our message is farmer first. 36:31 And to me that's farmer first. We're not gonna try and drill you into something that you don't have to buy necessarily, 36:37 just to have the technology. I think we're gonna leave it right there. Uh, the company's called Fent 36:44 and we've been doing a lot of trials with them here. There was one on Match Farm, there's one on Lee's farm. The sprayer was on Chad's Farms. 36:50 We're gonna be doing and seeing more of that stuff, how autonomous machinery, how autonomous machinery change your farm. 36:55 It's coming. It's coming. And I think as a subject we'll probably revisit again. So thanks for being here. His name's Brandon Montgomery. 37:02 He is the brand manager for Fent. And of course, Matt Miles, uh, your favorite McGee, Arkansas area farmer. 37:09 Till next time, thanks for being here. You're listening to Extreme Ag Cutting the Curve. Thank you. Thank you. 37:16 That's a wrap for this episode of Cutting the Curve, but there's plenty more. Check out Extreme Ag Farm where you can find past episodes, 37:24 instructional videos and articles to help you squeeze more profit outta your farm. 37:30 Cutting the curve is brought to you by Advanced Drainage Systems, the leader in agriculture water management solutions.

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