Over the past few months, Seedmaster Mfg. and sister company Dot Technology Corp. finalized the hiring process for new corporate leadership. Leah Olson, who previously served as president of the Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, will serve as CEO, while Jeffery Bourasa will bring 15 years of Saskatchewan-based finance and leadership experience into the CFO role.
The transition comes off the heels of the autonomous DOT Power Platform being introduced to shortline manufacturers.
Over the past year, companies such as Raven Industries and Pattison Liquid Systems reached agreements to design equipment for the diesel-powered DOT attachment, which is intended to navigate machinery in lieu of a tractor.
Norbert Beaujot, president and founder of SeedMaster and DOT, says several SeedMaster implements have also been designed as DOT-compatible, with successful examples including a land roller, grain cart and seeding unit. The attachment is remote- controlled if adjustments are needed and incorporates hydraulics, GPS and satellite mapping concepts to navigate a variety of machinery.
Crucial to DOT’s success, Beaujot adds, is convincing farmers that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to improving equipment, and if growers can embrace autonomy and significant changes to their setup, it’ll pay off in the long run.
“The tractor, to me is obsolete. It’s too inefficient and there’s better ways. Seedmaster has built drills for many years and we’ve been building bigger and bigger and bigger drills. We were the first in North America to build a 100-foot seeder quite a few years ago. As an engineer and as a farmer, the inefficiencies of those large pieces of equipment were weighing on me heavily. So about 3 years ago, I was dwelling only on that, “how can we improve on inefficiencies,” because it wasn’t going to be a 120-foot seeder. The bigger and bigger equipment have been developed primarily because there’s been a shortage of expert help on farms. You’ve got these half or a million-dollar pieces of equipment, you have to select the operator very carefully. And when you do that, you have him cover as many acres as you can. But when you take that out of the formula, all of a sudden you look around and if you make it autonomous, then all you’re looking at is ‘well, what’s the most efficient for the farmer?’”
While currently available on a limited scale, the DOT Power Platform is expected to expand its market availability in 2019. If farmers adapt to autonomy the way Beaujot envisions, perhaps we’ll see a new definition to typical machinery in the years to come.