Do robots dream of electric tractors?

Tractor and Machinery Association conference: AgThentic talks future machines


New Releases
RAISE YOUR HAND: AgThentic partner Matthew Pryor speaking at the Tractor and Machinery Association annual conference, held in Melbourne.

RAISE YOUR HAND: AgThentic partner Matthew Pryor speaking at the Tractor and Machinery Association annual conference, held in Melbourne.

Aa

AgThentic spoke about the future of machinery at the annual Tractor and Machinery Association conference.

Aa

When machines take over the world, maybe companies will be selling electric tractors to robots.

With a nod to science fiction, AgThentic partner Matthew Pryor used his talk at the Tractor and Machinery Association annual conference to explore what the future farmer might look like, and how technology could disrupt the current status quo, particularly around customer service.

"Having great customer service is like having your mind read, the person has fully anticipated your needs," he said.

"If we know what customers want, then we know how to help them."

Mr Pryor said the current paradigm consists of experienced staff using their learned knowledge to accurately predict what the customer might want or need.

"Being able to predict the future based on past experience helps us give great customer service," he said.

"But it can also be risky when things are changing quickly."

Mr Pryor said agribusinesses should think about the things that could change in the future and what would likely have the biggest impact on their business.

What does seem very likely is that full autonomy is coming and largely our world will be helping farmers own and operate fleets of autonomous vehicles - Matthew Pryor

"There are certain things about future customers we can predict, the average age, the gender, the size of the operation," he said.

"But what about farm activity, what will farmers actually be farming? How will they be doing it and where will the be doing it? What will we be eating and wearing 20 years from now?"

Mr Pryor said AgThentic spends a significant amount of thinking about what will change in food and agriculture in the future.

"Can we assume full autonomy is working in twenty years from now, full autonomous on-farm vehicles doing most common agricultural machinery tasks?" he said.

"When full autonomy comes, how big, small or similar sized will those machines be?

"What does seem very likely is that full autonomy is coming and largely our world will be helping farmers own and operate fleets of autonomous vehicles, these things are already happening."

Mr Pryor said the levels of money being invested by multinational companies in autonomy and machine learning tells the market that they are quite confident in their predictions of the future.

"But when we think about agricultural machines it would be short sighted to only consider the machines we use today, it is quite likely that the very nature of many tasks that have been performed on-farm will dramatically change," he said.

"This change will be enabled and even accelerated by the adoption of new technologies.

"Planting, harvesting, storage and marketing are all likely to change significantly."

Mr Pryor said easy availability of new technology was already fundamentally changing agricultural service models.

"One of the things about technology is its tenancy to democratise formerly expensive and time-consuming activities, an example is cloud computing," he said.

"These days a company can acquire as much computing power as it needs instantaneously and scale that up and down with no capital outlay.

"We have seen this process play out in a lot of areas relevant to agriculture, examples include soil testing, tissue testing, protein and moisture testing in grains."

Mr Pryor said ultimately the machinery industry needed to look at future opportunities, particularly around the area of sustainable farming driven by climate conscious consumers.

"Land use change will require massive support from the machinery industry," he said.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by