Autonomous farming has arrived, what Africans should know

Leah Olson (42), CEO of SeedMaster, Mfg and DOT Technologies is not your typical woman CEO. She is a farmer, hails for Saskatoon, the largest city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, has an MBA, she is a level two certified rugby coach and is not afraid to apply the principles of rugby in her leadership style. Just like in rugby where you often have the right person in the wrong role and have to move them around, so she does this in the corporate world, Olson tells CNBC Africa during the 2018 Farms.com Precision Agriculture Conference, where she is speaking, a week after getting married. But what is most remarkable about Olson is she is heading up a revolution in farming that will likely have the same impact Ford Motor Company, had on the horse-drawn carriage. She is spearheading the charge into autonomous farming and Olson says she will do so safely.

With Africa on the precipice of its own agriculture revolution technologies like these could speed up the process of putting the continent’s 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land to use, watch the video for more on what Olson had to say on this.

Olson’s startup DOT is the only autonomous equipment manufacturer in the world. It provides farmers with an autonomous mobile diesel-powered platform designed to handle a large variety of implements, see video. According to DOT’s brochure, the “U-shaped frame facilitates the direct loading of implements, so that once loaded the implements becomes one with the mobile powered platform”.

One such implement that has already been designed is a 30’ air seeded 60’ spray with 1000 gallon tank, 41’ land roller and a 500 bushel grain cart.

Both will be commercially available by the first half of next year.

Africans have the opportunity to build their own implements that could be added to DOT.

Olson reckons DOT will help farmers reduce their soil compaction, CO2 emissions, use less fuel, and labour, reduce equipment capital costs, help them become more efficient and more profitable.

The daughter of an inventor, calls Dot the tip of the iceberg

She asks “When you take the farmer out of cab what decisions are you going to make?”

*Monique Vanek was hosted in Saskatoon by Global Affairs Canada

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