Autonomous JD Tractors announced, 2022

LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,371 admin
edited January 2022 in Other News

This is a reality.

There are many issues with this. There may be kids, adults or animals that could get in the way. Also, as the article states, the company owns all the data of the farmer's field. It is not his/her own. There are most likely other issues as well, like a malfunction and it runs into a ravine, rolls down a hill or into trees, buildings or other vehicles. That is both dangerous & expensive.

Most farmers don't know how to farm anymore. They started to lose their skills decades ago already. They hire experts for every aspect of their farm..."specialists" such as weed control "experts", soil testing people, weather specialists, etc. With this coming to reality, the farmer is really no longer relevant on a modern farm, except maybe in the management of experts/equipment and getting into debt...that the financial experts & bankers manage.

I know a few who still are dedicated to the John Deere brand, but many run equipment made by other companies for a myriad of good reasons.

Case IH had also announced this type of tractor, so one of my boys just said. They keep up with farm equipment developments more than I do. 😆

We were able to watch one autonomous piece of equipment, running at the Regina ag show 3 or 4 years ago. It was fascinating, but a frightening prospect just the same seeing such a large thing move without a person on it to control it.

The simplicity of gardening is basic land farming. Scaled up in a simple, natural and not conventional way, makes for a resilient present & future for the land, the farmer and more, as we all know. Stress is reduced for all. Ownership & knowledge is retained.

"Progress" isn't always progress.


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,513 admin

    They have been using computer layouts for making corn mazes here for awhile now. The computer layout uses GPS technology via satellite. Now they won't need anyone to drive the tractor.

    It is a scary thought. Tractors can be such big pieces of machinery. To have one bearing down on you with no one in control would be terrifying. I am letting my imagination run wild; AI running the unit, maybe becoming a horror show with a tractor uprising.

    But you are so right @LaurieLovesLearning. Farmers (in general) no longer know how to farm the land, relying on several different government agencies to tell them what to do. And we know how smart the government is.

    We are losing caregivers, whether they be caregivers of the land, of animals or of people. This has been said before in other discussions. Factory farms with automated food & water delivery with no care for the livestock. Doctors no longer know how to simply "doctor" their patients, relying on equipment to do that. Teachers no longer "teach", but show kids how to use computers to learn from.

    Even personal contact is being done via devices. Kids in the same room with each other, talking (or texting) to each other via technology, with no human contact.

    Progress is definitely not always "progress" for the human race.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,371 admin

    @torey GPS in the field is widespread here and has been for very many years. It certainly has some benefits, but there is always a trade off, a loss of something, when one chooses convenience.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,585 admin

    I guess we all knew this was coming. Just as Uber and Lyft will soon no longer use human drivers.

    I am sure Bill Gates will be using these for all his farmland?

    I hope their computer chips are not stuck on a container in Nimbo China port! LOL

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,371 admin

    @Marjory Wildcraft If they are, as long as those chips could figure out how to work together, maybe they could find their way out of that port. Autonomous shipping containers on their way!

    Those tractors will be popular, especially with the richer/greedier farmers who have massive tracts of land, drive employees into the ground (so to speak), and now have trouble finding employees. There are many ultra-huge corporate farms on the Great Plains in North America that are still somehow considered "family farms". So, it won't just be Gates or the other city/foreign investors (who invest in land without knowing what rural life or farming truly is).

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm not surprised to hear about this. The technology exists to let autonomous cars drive thousands of miles on roads without an issue, and a tractor in a field is a much easier problem.

    This is clearly aimed at large-scale commercial conventional agribusiness farms, not small family farms. A lot of the work on those farms is done by unskilled labor. Anywhere that they can deploy capital instead of labor is an improvement for them.

    It's one more sign that agriculture is in the process of separating into two streams. Once is large scale agribusiness, with corporate ownership, high capital investment, conventional methods, and centralized management desisions made off-site. The other is small scale, family owned, generally organic (though not necessarily certified), with high labor input and minimal capital investment.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,371 admin

    @VermontCathy True, yet here in the Prairies, many called "small family farms" are absolutely massive. As definitions of everything have been altered to mean something entirely different, so has this term. It has been stolen from the true farmer with skills.

    Many farmer owners (see definition above) today are unskilled as well, having no idea what true farming is anymore. Conventional, even as small as a quarter to a section, show this widespread disconnect and also often use these technologies. Either they were never taught real farming methods by their predecessor, or they went to university or more likely, college, to learn the ways of the major ag companies that develop the curriculum and give grants to students.

    Your definition of small family farms, at the end of your post, is the description of a true family farm, although the terms "small scale", "family owned", generally "organic" are among the many good and previously meaningful terms stolen as well. What needs to be added is "generational traditional knowledge" & " hands on skills" to the description to set it apart from the others.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning Yes, I agree with much of what you wrote here.

    "Organic" is still important on small scale artisanal farms, but because of the costs of certification, many of these farms aren't actually certified organic. If your customers are local, it isn't worth the expense of certification. The point of the certification process is for huge agribusiness like Earthbound Farms to sell organic foods through regular grocery stores. (And if you look at the history of Earthbound, it was also started by a married couple. But I can't describe it as a family farm today, even if the family still owns all of it--and they probably don't.)

    One thing I think we are seeing, and will continue to see, is a disconnect between owning land and farming it. In most parts of the US, at least, the cost of land is too high to purchase it for farming purposes, but leasing rates are much lower. Many of the next-generation small farmers do not come from farming families, did not inherit land, and find that their best option is to lease what they need.

    As to "small-scale," I would argue that this is one area where agribusiness can't meaningfully steal the term. Agribusiness methods just don't work profitably on small scales. The whole "plant from hedgerow to hedgerow" was a formula closely related to "get big or get out." Of course, they can and do use marketing to look like smaller operations than they really are.

    My personal opinion is that family-owned farms owned and operated by people without skills will not last beyond the current generation. Most of the profits of these operations will end up transferred to the owners of Monsanto, John Deere, ADM, Perdue, and other large corporations. The children of those families will see the writing on the wall, and sell or lease the land to others rather than farm it.

    The other possibility is that some sufficiently large family-owned farms will essentially become agribusiness operations of their own. I'm sure some already have.

    Traditional family farmers were usually only able to make a living by practicing rigid economy, avoiding spending cash whenever possible. There are exceptions who became wealthy, but they are just that, exceptions. Once you accept the idea that the solution to every ag problem is a machine or a chemical compound, you are transferring the bulk of the income to someone else.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,371 admin

    In my area is one local family owned company that deals in chemical fertilizers, sprays and seed. Their customers are farmers who deal with them sign a contract that is certainly biased toward the company's interest. If the farmer has difficulty paying for any one thing, this company will quickly take over ownership of their land. Unfortunately, they have grown fairly large at this point and are still growing.

    They are known for deceptive business practices and not following regulations on many things. There is so much wrong there, yet people still deal with them. I think some, once they deal with them, get locked into a never ending cycle of financial trouble. It is sad, really.

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