Pearce: Autonomous platform makes Eastern Canada debut

The U-shaped Dot A-U1 “loads” a SeedMaster row-crop planter on to its platform during the demonstration at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. (Ralph Pearce photo)

It’s been dubbed “the future of agriculture” and for the first time, farmers in Eastern Canada had the opportunity to see the Dot A-U1 Power Platform with in-field demonstrations at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

The precision ag system, designed by Dot Technology Corp., attracted considerable attention going through its paces during the annual ag showcase, held outside Woodstock, Ont. The demonstrations took place as part of a partnership with Corteva Agriscience.

The U-shaped model is manufactured to incorporate “Dot-ready” implements, with only a few designs currently available: the SeedMaster Ultra DSR (Dot Single Rank) 30-foot seeder, the SeedMaster row-crop planter, a Pattison Connect PLU 120-foot sprayer and a New Leader NL5000 G5 spreader.

Growers in Western Canada are well acquainted with the Dot A-U1 platform but the reactions from those attending Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show were a pleasant surprise to Dot Technology CEO Rob Saik. He had texts and e-mails from eastern growers expressing interest in seeing and learning more about its potential.

“The response has been incredible — really good,” said Saik, noting most growers are looking for ‘economy of scale’ or the cost-efficiency of the technology.

“Out west, we’re looking for scale, where we have to have two or three DOTs working simultaneously in the field. Here (in Eastern Canada), one DOT could satisfy most farmers that are in that 2,000- to 2,500-acre range.”

Interest in the East is sufficient, added Saik, that he and his team are trying to restructure their plans to get a Dot unit available for demonstrations in the spring of 2020.

The technology is marketed to save time and fuel and reduce pollution, with a mobile, diesel-powered engine, capable of reducing overall costs by 20 per cent.

The Dot A-U1 effectively surrounds a specially designed implement and operates via an on-frame computer that is fed detailed mapping requirements. An operator can monitor the unit’s progress and can assume control using a tablet specifically configured for the unit.

Although currently designed for four implements, Saik stated that interest is coming from different manufacturers about newer configurations.

As he pointed out, smaller, more specialized implements such as a rock picker or land roller might be ideal candidates for such innovation, along with the better-known names in farm equipment.

“DOT gives them the strategy,” said Saik, following a brief presentation on the unit. “The companies can come on as a Dot-Ready implement manufacturer and we make that available to them like another option on a Swiss Army knife.”

Current pricing on the Dot A-U1 Power Platform is US$260,000.

— Ralph Pearce is a field editor for Country Guide at St. Marys, Ont.

Condolences to the Groeneveld family [caption id="attachment_113824" align="alignleft" width="150"] Chuck Groeneveld.[/caption] Chuck Groeneveld, a well-known ambassador of the Canadian beef industry, passed away October 30, 2020 at the age of 83 years. Groeneveld left school at a young age to help on the family farm, but at 14 he was wise beyond his years. He spent a lifetime giving to organizations that have shaped the livestock industry. Cattle have always been a part of his life, starting with Here­fords on the family’s homestead along the Bow River. In the late 1960s, Simmental cattle were introduced to their herd and Highwood Land and Cattle was formed. Cattle would take Groeneveld across the country and around the world. He exhibited at all the major shows across Canada and judged at many local and national shows. He believed in giving back and gave his time to many organizations including 4-H, Alberta Beef Producers, Calgary Stampede, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Alberta and Canadian Simmental associations. ABP said in its tribute that “Chuck played a profound role within ABP and Alberta’s beef industry, and his legacy will be remembered for many years to come.” He was a mentor to many young people and always had time for a visit and some advice. Groeneveld was inducted into the Canadian Simmental Hall of Fame in 2011 and received the Western Legacy Award from the Calgary Stampede in 2015. As much as Groeneveld loved promoting beef and teaching others where our food comes from, he loved being around people more. He would take time to visit with everyone. His sense of humour, kindness to all, love of animals, and smile were his trademarks. The place that was always home to him was the ranch on the Highwood River in the Gladys Ridge district. He resided there until he moved to Okotoks two years ago. He is survived by Lorraine, his wife of 58 years, his son Dean, daughter Deanne (Rob) Young, granddaughters, siblings and numerous nieces and nephews. Condolences to John Simpson’s loved ones [caption id="attachment_113825" align="alignleft" width="150"] John Simpson.[/caption] When I think of Saskatchewan Angus and Canadian Western Agribition, I think of John Simpson. It was sad news indeed to hear that Simpson recently passed away. For all the years we have been to Agribition, John Simpson has been there, whether as a volunteer on the commercial cattle committee or offering his expertise and insight on the Canadian Western Agribition board. He filled both roles admirably and was respected by cattle producers in the cattle barns and the board room. Simpson farmed all through his life with his dad. Over the years the farm had a variety of purebred breeds as well as commercial cattle. Not long after John and Pat got married in 1969, they started a herd of Red Angus cattle and ran under the farm name Symbrae Red Angus in the early ’70s. In 1987 Simpson leased 90 purebred Angus cows from Ken Fraser, resulting in them showing at Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatoon and Brandon. They sold bulls at the Northern Progress Bull Sale in North Battleford, the Connection Sale in Saskatoon, as well as the Moosomin and Yorkton bull sales. Simpson was involved with the Theodore 4-H beef club for many years, chairman of the recreation board and was active on almost every local community board. Simpson sat on many beef boards including the Saskatchewan Angus Association, where he served as president from 1994-96. In 1991 he was asked if he would like to run as a director for the Canadian Western Agribition board, which he did and stayed on for 19 years. Also active with the Yorkton Exhibition board for the past 40 years, he worked with the Regional 4-H Show and Sale, Harvest Showdown Committee, and was a past president. It takes a special person to do what John Simpson did, helping out over the years on boards, in cattle barns and raising some darn good cattle along with his wife and family. He will be truly missed as a friend, role model and I can honestly say that once we finally get back to Agribition, it won’t be the same without John around. John and Pat have three children — David, Robert and John — as well as two grandchildren, Kiah and Cort. Condolences to the Robart family In late September this year, the Ontario beef industry lost Grey County cattleman Brad Robart of Kemble, Ont. Robart was an advocate for the Murray Grey Breed in the ’80s and ’90s, touting the benefits of the breed in his intensive feeding program for a robust freezer beef market (see photo at top of page). He served on the Ontario Murray Grey Association board from 1996 to 2001 as president and vice-president. Along with his children, Dennis and Susan, Robart travelled to cattle shows across Canada and the U.S., promoting the Murray Grey breed. Our condolences go out to the Robart family.

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