Farm equipment automation is on the minds of precision dealers, whether it’s a tangible reality or far-fetched fantasy within their business. But regardless of the take, it’s hard to ignore the impact the emerging technology will have on the ag industry. Looking at results of the 2020 Precision Farming Dealer Benchmark study, some 43% of responding dealers cited autonomous vehicles as an area of at least moderate importance to grow revenue during the next 3 years.
Commercialization of autonomous systems is fast approaching and recent momentum in the ag industry suggests unmanned implements on the horizon at the edge of a farmer’s field. Cheap, reliable labor could be a strong selling point — particularly as both dealers and farmers are challenged to find and retain permanent employees. So, what are dealers doing to prepare for the opportunity?
During this dealer panel, hear from those working on the front lines of adding autonomous equipment to their precision lineup and learn about how and why they are looking to incorporate self-driving technology sales and service into their business plans of the future.
Ben Flansburg, BCA Ag Technologies division manager, LandPro Equipment, Medina, N.Y. Entrepreneurial by nature, Flansburg sees autonomous equipment as an inroad to expanding business throughout the diverse farm operations in the 21-location area the dealership covers across New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
After owning and operating an independent dealership for 13 years, he sold the business to LandPro, but still operates it as an independent arm allowing for some autonomy, literally, with identifying new product opportunities outside of the main OEM brand. “I see the autonomous system as a great fit for a certain portfolio of customers,” he says. “We have one customer with a 12,000-acre operation beta testing a system in wheat, and I see tremendous opportunity. It’s going to have a unique fit to start.”
Bill Lehmkuhl, owner, Precision Agri Services, Minster, Ohio Starting the single-store, independent precision dealership in 1994, Lehmkuhl has seen the evolution of most every precision tool both within his business and also on his own farming operation.
Adding an autonomous equipment line in the last year, he sees the opportunity to capitalize on precision tools many farmers are already familiar with — even if they don’t realize it. He views autonomy on 3 levels and two of them are already being used on the farm — automatic combine adjustment settings and automatic planter downforce.
“There are forms of autonomy already working for farmers so it’s not as much of leap as some might think, for farmers or dealers,” Lehmkuhl says. “It’s a technology that we’ll see across different sized operations, and apply to different tillage practices and tools that will allow operators and managers to better manage their on-farm resources.”
The 2021 Summit will be held virtually Jan. 11-12 and features a diverse learning program of general sessions, panel presentations and roundtable conversations.
Among the Title Sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for dealers are Ag Express Electronics, Dinamica Generale, Laforge Systems, Martin Industries, SureFire Ag, Trimble and Yetter Farm Equipment.
For more information and to register for the Summit, click here.