Precision Farming Dealer editors were on the ground for the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill, where the latest and greatest precision technology stole the show. Here are some of our top takeaways from Decatur.

NEXAT System Turns Heads

Terrakamp’s all-in-one NEXAT system was one of the most talked about items on our website and YouTube channels in 2022 and 2023. It delivered on the hype in its first appearance at the show. Terrakamp’s booth was consistently packed with attendees who were pulling out their phones to shoot videos and photos of the impressive machine.

“The NEXAT unit can carry a harvester, sprayer, planter, seeder, tillage equipment — virtually every component on your farm,” says Joseph Jandrisch, Terrakamp CEO. “We looked at the current status of tractors and combines and they just keep getting bigger and bigger. They’ve met the limits of their ergonomic ability. The major manufacturers are spending a decade to try and make a bigger machine to eke out small increases. So, we decided to change it. We started from the ground up with this current design.

“The true benefit we offer is to improve the health of the soil by reducing compaction, staying on a 50-foot-wide tram line. It’s focused on automation. You see a cab on the machine, but the cab is there mostly to let the operator ride along. The machine will operate autonomously. We don’t need a square field. We’ll use AI to plan the most efficient path so we can stay off of areas that might be compacted. With that we get better moisture penetration, more nutrients deep in the soil, deeper roots.”

The NEXAT system harvested wheat, soybeans and canola for the first time in South Dakota last year. It also planted and performed ground prep.

“We’re here at the show because we need feedback from the best farmers,” Jandrisch adds. “We’re not looking at all the farmers. We’re looking at the best 5%. It doesn’t mean the biggest 5%, but we’re looking at the people who are concerned about the quality of the soil.”

Catch the full interview with Jandrisch on the Farm Innovations YouTube channel.

Business is Booming for Precision Sprayers

As expected, for the second year in a row, several precision sprayers were on display. Fendt showcased its new Rogator equipped with One Smart Spray technology. The camera-based system detects weeds in milliseconds and precisely sprays only where needed.

John Deere announced its See and Spray Premium retrofit option is available for the 2024 growing season. Than Hartsock, vice president, precision upgrades at Deere, says a shift to the retrofit mindset will help drive new technologies to the farm. 

“Because technology development cycles are increasing, we’re going to see farmers evaluate more often how they get the latest technology on their farm,” Hartsock says. “The retrofit first mindset applies. It’s part of the risk-reward equation. It’s a smaller investment if they try new technology on an existing planter or sprayer rather than buying a new one. Then when they buy a new planter or sprayer, they’re more confident in the technology and it makes more sense. They get the experience with the new technology before making a big investment.”

Swiss agtech company Ecorobotix brought its ARA precision spot-sprayer to the show for the first time. ARA was launched in 2021. It has since been used in 13 European countries and, most recently, expanded geographically to Canada and South America. In less than 250 milliseconds, the system scans the field, captures real-time imagery, identifies the specified crops or weeds the farmer has chosen to treat, and executes a precise spray precision of 2.4 by 2.4 inches, all while minimizing drift. The smile on Ecorobotix Americas regional manager Jose Marchetti’s face in the video below says it all — this was a big moment for the young company.

The “Ryse” of Drones 

Smithville, Georgia farmer Alex Harrell set the new soybean world record with a 206-bushel yield earlier this month. One of the keys to his success? Drones! 

“We had 15 inches of rain over a 10-day span in June. But we have spraying drones, so we were able to keep spraying throughout those heavy rainfall events to keep the crop pumped up and growing,” Harrell says. 

You could hear and see drones buzzing across the exhibit fields throughout the week. We stopped by the Ryse Aero Tech booth for a look at the company’s electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), RECON, and a 1-on-1 interview with Ryse CEO Mick Kowitz, who says there's a growing list of reasons for farmers to take to the air.

Autonomy in Action

Raven showcased the 3rd level of autonomy — operator assisted autonomy — with Raven Cart Automation, which is now available for pre-orders. The company says the technology is designed to reduce operator stress by 22% for tractor operators and 33% for combine operators, allowing harvest operations to be more efficient. We hopped in the cab for a ride-a-long with autonomy specialist Adam Lowe.

“I don’t see any pain points with it, it’s just picking up on the technology and training the people,” Lowe says. “It’s not that complex of a system. It seems like there’s a lot going on, which there is in the background, but to actually operate the system — there’s not a whole lot to it. The biggest problem we’ve seen with it is people wanting to grab the steering wheel. The biggest thing is just training farmers on it and getting them to trust the system. Once they trust the system, they love it.” 

We’ll have full videos and interviews from Farm Progress Show 2023 uploaded soon to 

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