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Field Tests Underway for Electric Planter

Iowa start-up Salin 247 is field testing an autonomous electric drive unit for no-tilling corn and soybeans.

With a lifetime of farming experience and degrees in agronomy and economics, Dave Krog says he’s trying to whittle variable and fixed costs from today’s equipment outlays with an electric, autonomous drive unit aimed squarely at the 24-row planter market.

“Our goal is to make this kind of solution less expensive than today’s technology,” Krog says. “By eliminating the tractor and the heavy sprayer, we can leverage our running gear and chassis over many operations.”

Doing business as Salin 247, in Ames, Iowa, Krog and his engineer son ran their first two-track-drive prototype robot in Iowa in 2021, and plan to have the second, upgraded version of the machine no-tilling soybeans and corn in Iowa and Tennessee this spring.

MBS Family Farms in Plainfield, Iowa, is among those giving it a try. MBS General Manager Kyle Mehmen says this will be their first time using autonomous planting equipment. The technology might not fit their current system, he says, but the main purpose is to develop an understanding of how to implement it.

Smaller Units Coming

“Long term, we feel like smaller autonomous equipment will probably be the future,” Mehmen says. “To understand how that would work and what it does is important to us. There are a lot of good things about the idea around smaller equipment, most of it being about compaction and efficiency. More than anything, when this opportunity came up, we just wanted to have a chance to understand how it would work at our house.”

Mehmen…

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Dan crummett 0618

Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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