If, like many farmers, you can’t imagine driverless farm equipment on your place, and take comfort in the thought autonomous farming is still years away and your current methods are working quite well, one long-time ag engineer says technological limits and population trends across the globe may be working against you.

Norbert Beaujot has spent his career developing farm equipment in the western prairies of Canada and is well known for his work developing very large seeding equipment for small grains with his family-owned business, SeedMaster Manufacturing, located at Emerald Park, Saskatchewan.

“We’ve built a reputation at SeedMaster since 2002 with our large drills. We were the first in North America to come up with a 70-, then an 80-, then a 90- and then a 100-foot drill,” Beaujot explains. “As an engineer and farmer, however, I realize the frustrations associated with building bigger equipment because of inefficiencies and transport safety issues associated with every-increasing implement sizes.

“We’ve been good at it. We distribute the seed and fertilizer and get it precisely placed in the seedbed, but when you double from a 50-foot to a 100-foot drill, you definitely don’t double your productivity.”

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Those inefficiencies, many of which are associated with the need for ever-larger tractors and harvest equipment, are constant challenges for ag engineers seeking to provide farmers with more productive equipment. But Beaujot says another related challenge is the rapidly shrinking skilled labor pool. 

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Watertown, Wis., no-tiller Tony Peirick shows how he plants corn into green cereal rye, starting with emergent cereal rye in spring, the same rye a few months later, planting corn into living cereal rye, rolling terminated rye after planting, and sidedressing corn with the rye still serving as armor for the soil. Find out more about his operation here.

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