The little New Holland
New Holland Agriculture is partnering with E & J Gallo Winery, the largest family-owned winery in the world and customer of New Holland specialty tractors, in a pilot project testing its NHDrive autonomous technology applied to T4.110F vineyard tractors. This collaborative pilot programme is focused on gathering agronomic and operator feedback on the use of this technology in everyday vineyard activities, with the ultimate objective of delivering autonomous solutions that are driven by the real-world requirements of winegrowers.
The programme is the latest step in the New Holland autonomous vehicle programme and its exploration of the various applications that can benefit the most from this technology.
The brand unveiled its NHDrive autonomous solution in 2016 at the Farm Progress Show and, to date, has previewed it on the T7 heavy duty and T8 tractor series to illustrate possible row crop applications.
The T4.110F programme demonstrates that New Holland’s autonomous solution is applicable to the brand’s entire offering of tractors, from high horsepower row crop all the way through to its specialty ranges.
New Holland Agriculture brand president Carlo Lambro explained: “Sustainability and innovation are in New Holland’s DNA; that’s how we help our customers to farm efficiently and profitably today – and anticipate the way their needs will change. We believe that specialty operations, and in particular those in the vineyard environment, could significantly benefit from the introduction of autonomous technology, in terms of productivity and sustainability. Our partner in the pilot programme, E & J Gallo Winery, shares our commitment to innovation and sustainability in viticulture, as well as our objective of providing an autonomous solution that will benefit winegrowers around the world.”
The big Case IH
In 2018, Case IH is collaborating with Bolthouse Farms on an autonomous tractor pilot programme. The goal of the programme is to understand how new autonomous technology can be used and how it meets real-world, on-farm requirements.
As one of the largest carrot producers in North America, Bolthouse Farms is a year-round operation that farms extensive acreage across four states and Canada. The company’s focus on and openness to advanced technology, coupled with its desire to improve productivity, makes it ideal for the pilot for the Case IH autonomous and automation programme.
The pilot programme will focus first on primary tillage and deep tillage — both highly repetitive tasks Bolthouse Farms conducts year-round — and a small fleet of autonomous Quadtrac tractors pulling a True-Tandem disk harrow or Ecolo-Tiger disk ripper will be used. This will help evaluate autonomous machine control in a variety of tillage applications, soil types, meteorological conditions and sensing and perception activities.
“One of the primary goals is to receive agronomic and operator feedback on the use of autonomous technology in real-world farm conditions, so Case IH can further develop and refine our technological control and machine optimisation systems,” Case IH global product manager Robert Zemenchik said. “Additionally, we will be able to learn from Bolthouse Farms what uses it envisions for automation and autonomy that we might not have already thought of.”
Bolthouse Farms vice-president of agriculture Brian Grant views the autonomous tractor pilot programme as an opportunity to find new ways to make the company’s operation more efficient and deliver high-quality food for the growing population. “We’re just now starting to play the what if game – where we’re asking ourselves and the Case IH engineers the questions about what autonomous tractors are capable of,” he said. “And the answers to these questions are not if. They are when.’”