FIRA USA 2022, the California agricultural robotics and technology forum, took over downtown Fresno this week. Industry leaders from all over the globe shared their vision for the future of autonomous farming, and over 45 exhibitors packed the Fresno Convention Center to showcase their newest robots. Here are some of our top moments.
GUSS Takes Center Stage
As soon as you walk into the exhibit hall the first thing that catches your eye is GUSS (and mini GUSS), the autonomous sprayer. Unlike several other robots on display, GUSS has already been on the market for a couple years. We caught up with Grower Success Manager Ben Villines for a look at where GUSS is headed next.
FIRA USA: Grower Success Manager Ben Villines shares perspective on the potential growth of GUSS Automation. pic.twitter.com/QDwAzILDFk— Farm Equipment (@FEeditors) October 20, 2022
Powerful Panel: How to Integrate Robots & Automation on My Farm
What’s stopping more farmers from adopting autonomous technology? Chuck Baresich (Haggerty Creek GM), Aubrey Bettencourt (Almond Alliance CEO) and Alain Pincot (Betteravia Farms/Bonipak Managing Partner) shared solutions to potential challenges facing farmers and manufacturers during a special panel discussion.
Baresich: “For a manufacturer, the first thing I’d tell them is don’t overcomplicate things. When you bring your machine out, be careful what you’re promising…make sure your robot can drive straight, start with that. We’ve tried a lot of robots that can’t drive straight. Can they actually complete their task? Then start worrying about all the cool stuff you’re promising.”
Pincot: “Growers need to be open minded. Frustration can build up quickly if you are not ready to understand some level of adaption is necessary for your operation to successfully adopt technology. Be prepared to ask the right questions.”
Bettencourt: “If we don’t have rural access to underlying infrastructures (satellites, internet, cellular access) then we can’t use the products you’re bringing us. There’s a need for investment in basic infrastructure that allows farmers to adopt and implement these tools quickly. We’re out in the middle of nowhere in a lot of these places.”
INTEGRATING ROBOTS & AUTOMATION IN MY FARM: Aubrey Bettencourt (Almond Alliance CEO) and Chuck Baresich (Haggerty Creek GM) touch on the need for infrastructure in rural areas to support new technologies, during a panel discussion at the FIRA USA forum. pic.twitter.com/JtnMAOXHjD— No-Till Farmer (@NoTillFarmr) October 19, 2022
SwarmFarm CEO Shares Vision for Future of Ag Equipment
SwarmFarm has covered over 1.1 million commercial acres, 60,000 hours of operation, and reduced pesticide inputs by an estimated 600 tons with their autonomous SwarmBots. CEO Andrew Bate discussed the keys to their success.
“The breakthrough for us was when we realized that the new way to think about autonomous agricultural equipment in the modern era was through an ecosystem lens,” Bate said. “An ecosystem specifically formulated to address the issues in your locality; a system that leaves the lowest possible footprint on your fields and helps you to do more with less.”
In the video below, Bate explains the benefits of the company's three-year operating lease business model.
The LaserWeeder Makes Strong Impression
We asked a representative from a dealer for their top takeaway from FIRA 2022: “That LaserWeeder was pretty impressive,” they said. Carbon Robotics generated a lot of buzz with their signature robot, a pull-behind implement that zaps weeds with 30 high-powered CO2 lasers. It covers up to 2 acres per hour and can kill up to 200,000 weeds per hour. Director of Sales Brad Wescott tells us more in the video below.
The Future is Now
The most obvious takeaway – the amount of new technology on display was impressive! It felt like a Sci-Fi movie at times. Newer companies like Amos Power (Cedar Falls, Iowa) generated a lot of interest with their products.
FIRA USA: Amos Power founder Tom Boe gives us a look at their fully electric autonomous row crop tractor. pic.twitter.com/ajeAYoFfJW— No-Till Farmer (@NoTillFarmr) October 20, 2022
More Sights and Sounds...
FIRA USA: Monarch showcased its fully electric tractor, which combines mechanization, automation and data analysis to increase productivity and maximize yields. pic.twitter.com/IlCL7SYQoq— Farm Equipment (@FEeditors) October 20, 2022
FIRA USA: Naio Technologies gives us a look at Orio, an autonomous robot dedicated to large scale vegetable farms or arable crops. It’s able to seed, weed, cultivate, spray, fertilize and more. pic.twitter.com/6ELsTsB7Ga— Farm Equipment (@FEeditors) October 20, 2022