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Pearce: Autonomous platform makes Eastern Canada debut

DOT generated plenty of interest at Canada's Outdoor Farm Show

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.

The SeedMaster Ultra DSR is another of the implements currently available for the Dot A-U1 Power Platform. (Ralph Pearce photo)

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