If you’re frustrated that the big names in equipment manufacturing aren’t rolling out autonomous systems quickly enough, you may want to look a little closer to home.

“With the clock ticking on when we’ll see autonomous farming become a commercial reality, my hope is that we’ll see Canadian manufacturers lead the way there,” said Leah Olson, president of Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada.

“Big manufacturers are putting huge dollars into research and development, but so are shortline manufacturers — and they’re able to be a little more nimble in their product development.”

Canada’s shortline manufacturing industry is a growing one, largely because of the innovations that these smaller manufacturers offer to farmers and ranchers. Historically, these smaller companies have been located close to farming communities, where the regional growing conditions spur new technologies and implements.

“They’re in rural areas, and often, they work very directly with farmers or ranchers to understand how their farm equipment is actually being used,” said Olson. “That sort of market intel is really important. That’s what helps drive the innovations in the shortline industry.”

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