German ag-tech developer NEXAT is marketing an all-in-one autonomous platform designed to address compaction, labour, and a variety of other crop production issues. Speaking to Future Farming in January, 2022, grain and oilseed grower Clinton Monchuck of Saskatchewan, Canada, offers some initial thoughts and questions about the technology.
On first glance, Monchuck considers the Nexat platform “interesting tech.” Indeed, he believes the design could prove popular with a variety of western Canadian farmers thanks, in part, to its compatibility with multiple task-specific implements.
Like the advances in GPS and sensor technology in recent decades, the technologies combined within Nexat could bring some additional efficiencies in the right circumstances. The opportunity to match the platform to the appropriate scale of a farm is also intriguing (from the small farm business, to circumstances where a 22 row combine head is a sensible choice). This could lend to the platform’s versatility.
Other factors pertaining to existing on-farm limitations lead Monchuck to question whether the true capability of Nexat could be realized without additional investment. Harvesting crops, for example, is not in itself a challenge, but keeping up with the combine as it harvests can be.
Nexat’s autonomous capability is an attractive prospect. But like other connectivity-driven technologies – both old and new – intermittent and irregular signals are a cause for concern, particularly in rural Canada where connectivity issues are widespread.
“I’ve been planting before and my GPS has gone down for a period of time, and I actually can’t do anything. The planting unit cannot physically work without GPS,” he says.
“There are some logistical things that exist, especially when you get into no-mans-land out here where there are not a lot of people living [in the area].”
Similarly, the complexity of highly-advanced technologies necessitate a strong and timely support infrastructure. With such infrastructure, Monchuck believes platform’s like Nexat do have potential.