John Deere unveils guidance system opening up autonomous tillage in row crops


Developed by John Deere and subsidiary Monosem, the AutoTrac Implement Guidance system unveiled at Agritechnica in Germany this year gives farmers the opportunity to mechanically target weeds in row crops, at high speed.

The system involves two StarFire satellite receivers (one on the tractor and one on the implement), as well as an AutoTrac vision camera, allowing it to function in fields planted without a guidance system. The combination, according to John Deere allows “for high speed, high output weed control” where plant rows are uneven or interrupted, as well as on slopes and around corners.

And while an operator can choose a maximum speed (with the system determining whether or not that is achievable given the conditions), John Deere believes units equipped with the system will be able to travel up to 16km/h without damaging crop.

The high-capacity hoes are shifted through the tractor’s three-point linkage stabilizers, while controlled active steering keeps the work between the rows and hydraulic coulters lowered into the ground absorb side draft.

Deere’s Simon Schowalter, in an interview with RealAgriculture’s Kelvin Heppner included below, says complete automatization of weed control is possible with AutoTrac Implement Guidance when used in combination with iTEC Pro headland management.

Still in the testing phase, John Deere hopes to have at least ten units in fields in 2018, and to offer the technology to the wider population in 2019.

RealAgriculture’s Kelvin Heppner spoke with John Deere’s Simon Schowalter about the AutoTrac Implement Guidance system, unveiled at Agritechnica 2017.

Watch more from Agritechnica here.

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