eFarmer recently undertook the challenge to create the automatic steering system that every farmer dreams about. Our goal is to develop a solution that will allow you to upgrade your tractor to automatic steering with minimum costs and high quality and last week we asked you to help us achieve that.
It was great to see how farmers from all around the world came together to share their ideas about their dream automatic steering system. It gave us essential insights and set the direction for creating a truly amazing product. We have finally processed the results and are ready to share them with you with, as we promised.
The rapid spread of automation technology in agriculture seems to be the most important trend in the near future. It has the potential to significantly improve effectiveness and decrease fatigue and its impact cannot be overlooked. However, it is still a long way to go until everyone will have access to this technology.
What are the existing automatic steering systems like?
In the first part of the survey we were focusing on the autosteer systems that are already in the market to see how our new system should be different. It might not be surprising to hear that the majority of the respondents still don’t use an automatic steering system. Those who do use it confirmed that the market is still dominated by huge companies with high-priced system such as Trimble, John Deere or AGleader. This might be the reason why autosteer is still viewed as an expensive solution that only the biggest farms can take advantage of. Among those respondents who do not own an automatic steering system, 59% pointed out the high-price as the reason. Other respondents think they cannot use the system because their tractor is too old (19%) or their field is too small to make it worthwhile. (12%). This is a signal for us that we need to develop an automatic steering system that is compatible with all tractors regardless of the age and has a low price that make it worthwhile to use it even on a small scale farm.
Almost all respondents who shared information about their automatic steering system encountered some issues in the past. The most frequently mentioned problems include inaccuracy, poor reception, too many cables, or impracticality because of the size. Moreover, the systems can be complicated to set up or use (the menu is difficult, not user-friendly interface, too many buttons to press). These problems can be even more frustrating given the high price of the autosteer systems.
What is the automatic steering system of your dreams like?
In the survey, we also asked you to describe the characteristics of your dream automatic steering system. We can conclude that the factors leading to a positive experience are customer-friendly price, high accuracy and stability. Not surprisingly, our respondents are looking for a solution that is easy to install, integrates well with the tractor and other equipment and works in a user-friendly way (simple menu layout, not too many buttons, good screen).
The cost is not only a major factor when purchasing an autosteer system, but also when it comes to installation. Many respondents feel that the installation should have a marginal cost or the possibility to do it themselves.
When it comes to accuracy, the more accurate, the better principle seems to apply. There is a huge demand for high accuracy solutions, 0-4 cm being the most popular choice. Farmers do not want to make a tradeoff around accuracy. They simply want the highest one.This level of precision enables GPS receiver to be used with automatic steering. You can learn more about the different levels of accuracy and find out what level of GPS accuracy is sufficient for you by reading our article, How to choose farm GPS receiver?
Creating automatic steering systems for all tractors models
Thanks to your help, we could put together a huge list of tractor models and other equipment that helps us develop universal solutions that are compatible for many tractor models. Why was it needed? There are many variations in tractors with significantly different requirements to install a system. You can read more about the different mounting options and installations types in one of our previous articles Tractor Auto Steer
In this article we presented what you shared with us about the basic characteristics of your dream tractor autosteer. However, this was just the beginning. Next, we would like to discuss the functionalities that you find essential. Soon you will receive the second part of our survey, but in the meantime we invite you to join the conversation and share your thought in the comment section or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Is my tractor suitable for autosteer?