Kinze Manufacturing, Inc. continued its progress on Kinze Autonomy this season by leasing its autonomous harvest system to three farmers. While each of the farmers was a participant in the release preview held in fall 2012, this year Kinze representatives were not in the field overseeing operation of the system, which allowed the farmers to use the technology independently.
“Because the technology was brand new last year, we took every precaution to make sure it ran properly,” said Rhett Schildroth, senior product manager at Kinze. “We made several minor improvements, and this year the farmers ran the technology by themselves. We’re now getting very positive feedback. The system just works – the farmers keep asking when they can buy it.”
The minor adjustments made to the system for this year’s harvest include:
- The range of wireless communication between vehicles has been increased.
- Additional diagnostic feedback is available to the operator.
- A “go to here” feature has been added. This allows the operator to position the tractor in the field in the best possible area and wait for further instruction.
- The speed of vehicle path planning has been improved.
The “go to here” feature has proven to be very beneficial for the farmers. Users can instruct the tractor to go to a spot in the field that they deem most convenient in relation to the combine’s path, instead of having the system follow the combine through the field. This helps increase efficiency and saves time because the farmer can gauge when they will need to unload next and make sure the tractor is there waiting for them
“The “go to here” feature really opens up the field,” said Kent Armstrong, a farmer from Cameron, IL, leasing the system. “After the corn is unloaded into the semi, I instruct the tractor to drive to the best place in the field to wait until I’m ready. It helps the tractor get to the combine for unloading in the most efficient way possible and opens up the field for combining.”
Like Armstrong, both of the other participating farmers have experienced significant efficiency gains during this year’s harvest. Kinze continues to work toward full commercialization of the system.