While global player John Deere and German manufacturer Horsch are believed to be well down the track with autonomous field robots, it looks like Dutch start-up company AgXeed will be the first to enter series production with the aptly named AgBot.
RMG services 20 farms in the region, which means manager, John Ranford, always needs the peace of mind that his machinery fleet is working to full capacity. This is what drew him to the John Deere Connected Support system.
"There are a lot of moving parts to this business, so it's essential each of the elements are operating smoothly," he explains.
Connected Support is a suite of digital tools linking farmers and contractors with their dealership, allowing technicians to monitor machinery performance and remotely provide vital back-up support. In RMG's case, Drummond and Etheridge, Rolleston, can deliver integrated support to RMG's John Deere 750A six-metre direct drill, a 6155M and three John Deere 7R 210s.
"Given we are based about an hour-and-a-half away from our local dealer, it's much more efficient for them to be able to see how the machine is running remotely and take action straight away," Ranford says.
Based near Culverden, the season comes to a peak for RMG in spring when there is the overlap between drilling for specialist seeds for winter crops, and silage and baling are in full swing. Throughout the rest of the year, its services include fertilising, spraying, land clearing and development, mowing, mulching and ploughing.
JD's Service ADVISOR Remote allows technicians to analyse machine information instantly from any location, rather than a mechanic needing to visit a farm to diagnose a problem.
It also enables them to bring the correct parts or specialist tools if there is a need for a visit.
For Ranford, one of the best indicators that the business is performing well is when the yard is empty. He is also comforted by the knowledge that unexpected issues can be avoided with John Deere Expert Alerts.
This is a Connected Support tool that notifies dealers of any potential machine issues that can occur before it becomes symptomatic, maximising uptime.
The dealer can also actively monitor machine Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) to determine the best resolution to keep his machines at optimal capacity. On one occasion, the RMG team received a call when they were discing on a steep slope, advising them to check the engine oil level in the tractor.
Ranford says John Deere Autotrac has proven invaluable, by ensuring consistency, no matter who is behind the wheel, with the high precision assisted steering system meaning operators can focus more on the task at hand, and the implements on the ground.
The mobile app also means Ranford can stay informed of the whereabouts of his machine operators, alongside the locations of the machines. The latter assists with regular maintenance tasks, with technicians able to see any machines nearby that require maintenance or upgrades.