The world's first autonomous spreader is making its mark in the northern hemisphere and will be heading down under next year.
Case IH debuted its driverless Trident 5550 applicator using Raven Autonomy earlier this year at the Farm Progress Show in Iowa.
The Trident was one of a number of autonomous and automated machines on display at the CNH Industrial Tech Day outside Phoenix, Arizona, on December 8.
Rated at 291 kilowatts (390 horsepower), the applicator has a 10 tonne bin and can travel at 35 to 40 kilometres per hour with a 30 metre spread rate.
It can also support a sprayer, which is coming up on the development list.
CNH Industrial considers the Trident to be at level four of its five stage journey towards autonomy.
Put simply, it is autonomous but requires supervision.
The machine needs to be driven from shed to paddock, or paddock to paddock, by an operator.
Once there, the operator can start the mission and the machine is able to autonomously apply products to the paddock.
Multiple autonomous machines can also be run in the same paddock at once to get the job done faster.
The operator would be nearby, possibly in a truck to fill up the bin when it was running low, thereby eliminating the need for a second driver.
So what happens if the Trident comes across an obstacle?
Sensors, cameras and radar detection are used to collect information.
This data is quickly processed and the machine is able to go into a caution state or come to a complete stop.
The operator receives a notification and they can decide whether the object needs to be moved or if the machine can go around it.
For farmers across the world, machines like the Trident offer consistency and productivity gains.
They can also help overcome labour shortages and reduce fatigue.
Six machines are being tested at the moment, including by Canadian farmer Brady Fahlman.
The fifth-generation farmer sees autonomous machinery as the necessary next step for Fahlman Farms, which manages 5261 hectares at Holdfast in the Saskatchewan region.
"A lot of the conversation revolves around labour and it's true, finding seasonal labour and having it there when you need it in the tight time windows we work in is very hard," he said.
"So that's where we feel autonomy will step in and help us."
Mr Fahlman said getting to sit in his truck, click play, and watch the Trident go up and down the field with nobody in the cab had been one of the highlights of his farming career.
He said there had been a learning curve getting used to some of the different features but the process had gone well.
"When we were offered the chance to demo the Trident with the Raven tech stack in it we were pretty excited," he said.
"We used it for about 2000 acres earlier in the summer.
"We had intentions of doing about 6000 acres with it this fall but the weather really went from sunny and dry to a foot of snow and -2 in about a 30 hour window so we only got about 1000 acres done."
Mr Fahlman said using precision agriculture or the latest technology was not a new concept for the business.
Fahlman Farms uses a fleet of Case IH machinery including Patriot sprayers, Quadtracs and 50 series harvesters.
Data from these machines is brought together in AFS Connect and used to drive management decisions.
"Using precision ag or the latest technology is not something new to me, it's something I learned from my Dad by watching him over his farming career," Mr Fahlman said.
"I don't view it as the future anymore, it's on our farm, it's right there, we want it today and we're ready for it."
The autonomous Trident 5550 applicator will be available for a limited release in the United States next fall.
The technology will be trialled in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2023.
- The writer travelled as a guest of CNH Industrial.