Sabanto expands its business by automating tractors owned by farmers

Geils said learning how to create and download route plans into the tractor computer, use it and monitor it was not as difficult as expected, given the amount of technology already present in the tractor. agricultural equipment. He added that Sabanto’s software was not the problem, but the tractor quirks. Every issue has been addressed, giving Geils confidence in the future of autonomous operations.

“As we get it all figured out, we’ll move on to more things,” Geils said. “My goal is for this machine (the standalone Challenger) to also plant soybeans and winter wheat. “


Rupp is confident that Sabanto will start expanding the facilities of its technology in farmer-owned tractors in 2022.

“There is a large population of farmers, like Dave, who want to be at the forefront of agriculture,” he said.

In the meantime, the Kubotas de Sabanto fleet covers more hectares each year. The company initially worked hundreds of acres with one or two autonomous tractors in the same field. In 2021, thousands of acres were contracted with farmers. Sometimes six tractors worked in several fields simultaneously.

Sabanto was hired to do all the fieldwork on a 1,000-acre organic farm and a 750-acre conventional farm in 2021. Harvesting was the only thing that was not done on its own.

“I am inundated every day with calls from people who want to farm their land independently or from me to automate their tractor,” Rupp said.

Sabanto bases its Custom Farm Tariffs on the Iowa State University Extension’s annual Custom Farm Tariff Survey. The average planting rate in 2021 ranged from $ 20.66 to $ 24.55 per acre, depending on planter equipment and technology. Vertical tillage averaged $ 18.45 per acre.

Rupp said customers who want the Sabanto autonomous hardware and technology installed in their tractors will rent the equipment. An annual membership fee has not been determined, he said.


Tilling the land with stand-alone equipment solves a host of problems he and other farmers face, according to Geils. At the top of the list are labor shortages.

Geils Farms is a row crop operation totaling nearly 20,000 acres in Illinois and Wisconsin. The farm, which has 15 full-time employees, is about 70 miles from Chicago and much closer to its suburbs. Keeping a full workforce is not always easy.

“There’s a lot of competition for construction and manufacturing workers, so I have to pay more for labor than the farms in central Illinois – probably 30-40% more,” he said. Geils said.

Autonomous technology allows Geils or an employee to operate a combine or move grain from a combine to a semi-trailer while monitoring a driverless tractor pulling a tillage implement from its smartphone. This alleviates labor concerns and increases efficiency, as multiple farming tasks can be performed with the same number of people or fewer.

Geils said more acres can be covered in a day using stand-alone equipment because, unlike humans, machines don’t need a break because they’re tired. In the future, he could use smaller, cheaper equipment to do the same amount of work that his larger equipment does now. This may solve another concern of ensuring that the farm remains financially healthy so that it can pass it on to its children and future generations.

“I can see several autonomous tractors in my future,” Geils said. “It’s about reducing the cost of production … and the bottom line.”

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Matthew Wilde can be contacted at [email protected]

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