DOT changes how we view tractors

The autonomous implement platform known as DOT is certainly an eye-catching and interesting development in the farm equipment world, but is it disruptive technology? Is it a game changer?

“Yes,” says Mike Raine, without hesitation. As managing editor of the Western Producer newspaper and long-time agriculture reporter and farmer, Raine attends farm equipment shows around the world.

“You can really see the utility of the system,” Raine says.

Introduced at last summer’s Ag in Motion outdoor farm show in Saskatchewan, DOT is receiving worldwide attention. Simply put, DOT is a U-shaped chassis, an autonomous 163 horsepower diesel power source that quickly connects to any compatible implement whether a seeder, sprayer, roller or grain cart.

A different approach

Autonomous tractors have been in development for years and are widely believed to be the future of agriculture. DOT adopts that future, but embraces a radically different approach.

With DOT, the implement within the U-shaped cradle provides the weight. No need for a heavy tractor. And no need for an air-conditioned cab with all the creature comforts.

A DOT platform could be used throughout the year with various implements. The wheels are driven hydrostatically and turn sideways to allow for narrow-width road transport.

The seeder initially built for DOT is 30 feet wide while the sprayer is 60 feet.

“DOT moves past big and gets past extraordinarily wide,” Raine notes. “You can run more units and run them longer.” Delivering seed and fertilizer accurately across an 80 or 100 foot drill is a big challenge, and you need to haul a large cart filled with seed and fertilizer across the landscape.

Raine also notes that many agricultural areas have too many field obstructions to accommodate extremely large equipment.

Check out DOT in action

Finding efficiencies

One of the main drivers behind ever-larger equipment has been the shortage of farm labour. When you don’t need a person sitting on each implement, there are actually efficiencies to be gained with more moderately-sized units.

DOT is the brainchild of Norbert Beaujot, the founder of SeedMaster, an air drill manufacturing company based near Regina. SeedMaster has built the first DOT compatible-implements. Will other companies see this as the way of the future and also start developing implements for DOT? That would be a signal that DOT is truly a game changer.

“I’ve talked with short-line manufacturers interested in making DOT-compatible implements,” says Raine, “and he’s got the attention of some big manufacturers as well.”

From an AgriSuccess article (January 2018) by Kevin Hursh.