Technology Driven

Jan 07, 2022

Autonomy in agriculture has been a something on the horizon that most were not sure when they would see used efficiently across multiple acres. The Equity is embracing this new technology by being one of the first ag retailers to demo the OMNiPOWER autonomous spreader from Raven. The Equity GO SMART Team has taken the lead and adopted this automation, utilizing it to spread fertilizer pounds on the ground.

The GO SMART Team uses the latest technology to help growers make “SMART” decisions for their operation that maximize the customers profitability on every acre. Through soil tests, drone imagery, and yield analysis, the GO SMART Team creates input field prescriptions as well as checking crop health and crop stress throughout the growing season. The autonomous spreader was not an easy challenge, but The Equity had the right Team working on it.

In late September, Justin McKain, GO SMART Specialist, along with The Equity's Marshall location began preparing for the autonomous spreader to arrive, including a trailer equipped to transport the machine from field to field because autonomous vehicles are not currently legal for transportation on public roads. “In the future there is a possibility of electronically tethering an autonomous spreader to a manned spreader to work simultaneously in the same field allowing increased efficiencies in production.” describes Daniel Schopmeyer, Location Manager at The Equity Marshall location.

“Autonomy brings many operational opportunities to The Equity. The OMNiPOWER machine shows increased field efficiency within its planned routes and precise movements.” explains McKain. The real efficiency will come from the ability for one person to operate multiple autonomous vehicles and a conventional machine simultaneously.

Another challenge comes from the complexity of modules and wiring on the machine. Just as with any other electronics, the OMNiPOWER machine has its bad days that require a slightly different skill set within its operator to diagnose and repair issues.

This pilot program has and is enabling The Equity to be a leader in the industry. Autonomous applicators may not be quite ready for the industry, but The Equity will be ready when that day comes. “It is projects such as this that will keep us sharp, allowing us to adapt to agriculture’s ever-changing environment and continue to service our customers.” says Greg Taylor, Agronomy Operations Director at The Equity.

See the Raven OMNiPower Automous Spreader in action.

About The Equity

The Equity is the largest independent agricultural cooperative in Illinois, The Equity offers a broad range of products to fulfill our customer’s needs. From Agronomy to Grain Services, Feed & Livestock, Energy, and The Equity Farm & Home Store, our market area covers 20,000+ square miles. With 18 full-time locations in Illinois at Effingham, Alma, Altamont, Dieterich, Farina, Galton, Greenville, Horace, Lovington, Marshall, Montrose, Pana, Robinson, Saint Rose, Stewardson, Strasburg, and West Liberty and 1 full-time location at Farmersburg, Indiana. The Equity also operates five seasonal locations in Illinois at Casey, Gays, Kinmundy, Rosamond and Salem-Tonti.

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