Dot's autonomous row-crop planter debuts in Ontario

Curious, enthusiastic and sceptical farmers welcomed Dot Technology Corp (Dot) to eastern Canada this week as the company rolled out an autonomous row crop planter prototype at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

Dot has been a Western Canada phenomenon as Norbert Beaujot, founder of Saskatchewan-based SeedMaster Manufacturing and Dot Technology Corp, has quickly created a buzz with its autonomous robotic, diesel-powered platform.

The company’s CEO, Rob Saik, explains how the Dot-ready planter prototype was designed using SeedMaster Manufacturing technology and the row crop expertise of Manitoba farmer Frank Prince of Capricorn Bay Ltd. It features a 12-row unit with 30-inch spacing and currently offers two tank configurations: one 50-bushel seed tank with two 425-gallon liquid tanks, and two 50-bushel seed tanks with one 425-gallon liquid tank. The planter is equipped with electric variable rate vacuum seed meters and variable rate liquid fertilizer options. (Story continues after the video.) 

Prince is currently working on different configurations of the prototype planter at his home farm southwestern Manitoba. Saik says the goal is to continue testing through 2020 to find the right configuration for corn planting with first on-farm delivery targeted for 2021.

Long term, Saik says the US$260,000 Dot unit could find a home on Dot-ready farms (field mapped with designated boundaries and obstacles) across North America. The row-crop planter would join other available Dot implements, including the SeedMaster’s 30-foot Ultra DSR seeder, Pattison Liquid System’s 120-foot Connect PLU120 sprayer, and the New Leader 5G precision fertilizer spreader.

Saik says Dot is actively assessing where the platform can plug into agriculture sectors ranging from crops to livestock. “The sky is kind of the limit,” he says. “Anything where the work is dull, or dangerous, or dirty — that’s a place where robots fit.”

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