The Case IH model, as I’m sure you’ve seen by now, is a completely cabless vehicle that looks like something from the future. Meanwhile New Holland’s has a cab, allowing it to function like a “normal” tractor or autonomously, depending on the operator’s need at the time. When I spoke with Jim Walker, Case IH vice president of North America, during the show he told me we’re still years away from seeing this equipment in corn fields in the Midwest. But, it may not be as long before we see them in the vegetable fields of California, Florida and Arizona. (You can watch more of what Walker had to say in this episode of On the Record.)
While legislation will be a big part of autonomous equipment becomes a reality on the farm, he also said it’s going to be customer driven. When the time comes that farmers are ready for this technology, are you, as a dealer, going to be ready? Who will be responsible for sales, your regular salespeople or your precision farming specialists? A bigger concern may be if the industry is going to have technicians who are trained well enough to handle the level of sophistication that an autonomous tractor will undoubtedly have.
Or, maybe this is just what we need to draw more young people into the industry. Autonomous equipment could turn agriculture into a “sexy” industry that once again attracts young people. And that would be good news both for the farmers themselves and the service departments of many dealerships.
So what do you think, is your dealership ready to enter the next frontier of agriculture? Will this advancement in technology help draw talents to agriculture or just make the already challenging task of finding good, well-trained technicians even harder? Share your comments below.