Field Tests Underway for Electric Planter

With a life span of farming knowledge and degrees in agronomy and economics, Dave Krog says he’s trying to whittle variable and mounted expenses from today’s products outlays with an electric powered, autonomous generate device aimed squarely at the 24-row planter.

“Our aim is to make this sort of option considerably less pricey than today’s know-how,” Krog claims. “By reducing the tractor and the hefty sprayer, we can leverage our jogging gear and chassis over lots of functions.”

Accomplishing business as Salin 247, in Ames, Iowa, Krog and his engineer son ran their to start with two-observe-generate prototype robot in Iowa in 2021, and prepare to have the next, upgraded model of the machine planting soybeans and corn in Iowa and Tennessee this spring.

The 2022 examination version is made up of 4 separately-powered electrically-driven monitor models mounted on the corners of a rectangular metal tool-bar body. The drive unit carries a 48 Volt, 100-amp (10 kWh) lithium iron-phosphate battery pack together with RTK GPS navigation tools and 2020 Precision Planting devices and computer software. The device works by using cameras and laptop or computer vision for protection and obstacle detection. Moreover, the Krogs are also screening on-board radar technologies.

The 4-row prototype is made to plant at 5.5 mph, and have spray and aspect-costume capabilities up to 10 mph.

“We could place pace tubes on for planting, but we want to show our layout at slower speeds to start with,” Krog describes. “For post-emergence perform our unit is slower than the large rigs, but we foresee a time when numerous of our push models could be accomplishing the job of the larger sized devices at significantly less value — and due to the fact they are lighter, and outfitted with machine eyesight, they can get in the discipline more quickly after a rain and work in all mild problems.”

Salin 247’s 2022 prototype autonomous electrical-generate unit, well prepared for planting, characteristics the skill to swap hit involving planting, spraying and aspect-dressing with a lighter footprint and enhanced expense-usefulness more than classic pull-behind machines.

The prototype weighs 1,400 pounds (4,000 with planting models connected) and present ideas are for the robotic to carry 200 gallons of liquid for spraying chores.

Going to the discipline as a planter in 2022, the Krogs’ generate unit will be able of running about 90 minutes of continuous procedure ahead of a battery swap is necessary. 

“We never want a planter or sprayer to sit and wait around on charging, so we plan to have two batteries in rotation (one particular working the other on a charger) and in the long run an automated docking/charging station,” Krog points out. “We really do not have the charging station perfected nevertheless, so for our exams this 12 months we’ll be on-hand to swap the batteries.”

Currently the charging station is run by an 8.5 kW B100 bio-diesel generator, and Krog states it will cost a battery in the similar time its counterpart is being discharged on the planter.

Krog claims Salin 247 is doing the job on 4, 6, 7 and 8-row configurations for its drive units and would like to focus on 6- and 8-row units to be economically possible and competitive versus today’s common tractor-pulled 24-row planter.

“When the time will come for commercialization, pricing will be primarily based versus new-and-utilized 24-row planter rates as a baseline,” Krog clarifies. “Also, we’ll be allocating some of the tractor costs we’re removing into our formulation, but we certainly want to be under the baseline of new conventional devices.

“Our push device can be utilised across functions to bring prices down,” he suggests. “That’s how we’ll be pricing any products and solutions we provide to market place.”

Krog says existing estimates point out a grower could minimize fixed expenses on equipment using the integrated generate models by 25-35% or additional, but for operational prices (fuel, routine maintenance, labor and restore) the price savings could be as superior as 50%.

“Based on a greenback-for each-acre strength price tag, when seeking at an normal 10-cent for every kilowatt value for electrical power and the price tag for each gallon of diesel gasoline, electricity costs for planting could be slice by 75% with our electric powered propulsion,” he states. 

Krog suggests, while his examination models involve battery swaps and a lot less-than-ideal run situations, battery and charging technologies are continuously increasing in price and ability. Also, rural entry to on-farm renewable electricity technology is starting to be more commonplace which will allow improved accessibility to in-discipline battery maintenance in the not-too-distant future.

Salin 247 foresees a time when various lighter-bodyweight generate units, outfitted for unique industry operations, could change conventional major, higher-horsepower tractors pulling significant, vast, wide-acre implements — decreasing soil erosion and amortizing their charge with time and power-saving efficiencies.

“If you are working 4 6-row robotic planters and one hits a rock, you still have 18-rows of planting energetic in the industry,” Krog points out. “If you strike that rock with a 24-row planter, the whole machine is down right up until it is repaired.

“Ultimately, we’d like to see our technology operating at harvest time as well, but which is a long way off,” Krog claims. “Right now, we want to fantastic our know-how to do the job in all terrains with practical run and charging occasions. 

“Battery engineering is wherever we get the most pushback on our idea,” he suggests. “It’s new and field checks will be required to get it out in entrance of farmers. The engineering is fast improving upon as the automotive field spends billions on it, so batteries are going to keep getting improved.”