Innovators are like magnets with a little static electricity. They’re naturally drawn to each other, and when they connect there’s a little spark, reported Tim Hearden Feb. 10 for Western Farm Press while covering the World Ag Expo in California.
Monarch Tractor, Livermore, Calif., demonstrated that electricity at World Ag Expo when it paired up with another startup, OnTarget, Mt. Angel, Ore., which uses electrostatic technology to provide super-precise sprays.
Monarch is coming off a banner year in which it scored $61 million in funding from a group of investors led by Astanor Ventures, one of the world’s leading sustainable food venture firms.
Unveiled in 2020, Monarch bills itself as the first to offer a “trifecta” of electrification, automation and data analysis that empowers sustainable farming, increases efficiency and safety, and maximizes grower profitability. The firm was recognized at CES in Las Vegas in January, receiving a 2022 Innovator Award in the Robotics category for its driver-optional flagship MK-V tractor.
“I certainly believe this is the future of farming,” Carlo Mondavi, Monarch’s chief farming officer, told Farm Progress. “We’re revolutionizing the industry by bringing the agricultural industry up in terms of technology. If you think about what’s happening in aerospace and auto, we’re doing that with agriculture.”
To emphasize the point, Monarch displayed its tractor in Expo booths for OnTarget, electric vehicle charging firm Calco and CNH Industrial.
OnTarget founder Willie Hartman had at Expo people hold out their arm underneath a stream of water from a nozzle. With a normal spray, the water passed over it, but when he turned on the charge, their arm got wet. However, it wasn’t scorched, and neither are the plants that act as natural grounders, company officials said. What the technology does do is cut sprayers’ use of diesel fuel by more than half, as its precision requires much less energy. The fuel savings might make the sprayers a desirable implement behind a Monarch tractor, which uses no diesel, the companies’ representatives said.