By TIM ALEXANDER
DECATUR, Ill. — High-tech was back in a big way at the 70th Farm Progress Show (FPS), held August 29-31 in Decatur. BIG as with the goliath Teerekamp NEXAT system that drew the biggest crowds and the most speculation on the show’s opening day, and continuing with displays of the biggest and newest tractors, sprayers, drones, tillage equipment and more —many of them autonomous, electric powered, or both.
“In 2021 (the last time the FPS was in Decatur) we were just happy to have a show. In addition to the pandemic related supply problems, many foreign manufacturers were not doing trade shows, period,” said Matt Jungman, FPS manager, on the show’s opening day. “So, you can couple all that with the fact we had zero international travel. It put a ripple in the research and development area, and now that it’s catching up you are seeing new products hitting the ground everywhere.”
The pandemic related slowdown in new tech product introduction served as a time for manufacturers to fine-tune products that were in the market pipeline, according to Jungmann.
“It was interesting to be in this position through the introduction of auto-steer, and now we are kind of in the same place with the beginning point of the growth curve of adoption of (new technologies).”
With their Nexat system, Terrakamp intends to replace combines, tractors and large implements at the most progressive farms worldwide, while at the same time allowing the farming community to improve the health of the soil. Company officials are calling their multi-utility, detachable vehicle the most significant advancement in agriculture since mechanization started over 100 years ago.
At the focal point is an electrically driven wide-span carrier vehicle with interchangeable implements that perform all aspects of farming. For each task, the interchangeable applications are attached to the NEXAT carrier unit, creating a “modular, holistic, tremendously effective, and reliable crop production system,” according to company literature.
“This is a completely new vehicle and through it we are creating a much more efficient and healthier way to farm,” said a company spokesperson interacting with farmers.
Autonomous machinery has been led by Raven the past few years, and the company had their latest offerings on display at the 2023 FPS. “But now you have competitors stepping in like Cervanto and Mojo with machines operating, so it’s good to see that coming along,” Jungmann said. “You have two electric vehicle companies, Selectrac and Monarch, and they are dedicated electric tractor companies, and then you have CASE IH and New Holland unveiling new electric tractors. Couple that with the new Polaris Ranger electric vehicle, electric zero-turn mowers and electric forklifts, and you’re watching the evolution of these things come to market.”
Autonomous and electric farm machinery producers were literally lining up in the FPS Field Demonstration areas to showcase their new products for farmers. In addition to the companies mentioned by Jungmann, John Deere highlighted new hay tools and autonomous tillage and spraying technology, including their pilotless 8R410 wheeled tractor with a variable intensity tillage tool and self-propelled sprayer. CASE IH and Versatile also exhibited new autonomous tractors.
In addition, Solinftec’s Solix sprayer robot promised to reduce herbicide applications by up to 95 percent during exhibitions at their FPS booth. The company also announced a $5 million investment towards manufacturing efforts including its factory in Indiana.
Another sprayer company, Ecorobotix, introduced an ultra-precision smart sprayer software solution to the U.S. market. According to the company, their AI-driven technology “scans” crop fields, captures real-time imagery, identifies weeds in need of treatment and executes precise spraying in milliseconds.
The latest drone technology was also on display, with NYSE Aero Tech and Agri Spray Drones both displaying the newest, biggest and most capable UAVs on the FPS field demonstration grounds.
“Drones have evolved from just taking pictures to doing some good spraying, so you have an adoption curve where people who consider themselves to be everyday farmers can see a use for this in their everyday operations that provide value to them,” said Jungmann.
“With the introduction of so many new products at this year’s FPS, you are witnessing the evolution of new farming technology coming onto the market,” he added.