Horsch partner with Trimble to develop automation

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Automation from the paddock to the office is the goal of a new global company partnership, but what impact it will have in Australia remains unclear.

Horsch and ag-tech firm, Trimble, have teamed-up to fund automation however the impact in Australia is yet to be seen

Machinery manufacturer Horsch has partnered with global ag-tech firm Trimble with the aim of increasing automation on farms.

While the companies have previously collaborated on implementing control technologies, the new approach aims to create "full machine control solutions".

Describing automation in agriculture as "one of our next key technologies," Horsch managing director Theo Leeb says the move is a practical one.

"The unique opportunity with this collaboration is not that we are presenting a future utopia but that we are moving step-by-step towards autonomy in a pragmatic, consistent manner," he says.

Trimble says the partnership "will surpass autonomously controlling machines and extend to full workflow automation from the office to the field".

Specifically the companies hope to develop autosteering and guidance systems, path planning, and in-field process automation using Trimble’s technology and Horsch’s machines.

"The first phase of the collaboration will improve machine performance and reduce operating errors in sprayers," Trimble says.

"Aiming to improve the challenges that sprayer operators face, including planning, machine control, and logistics, automation can significantly reduce the driver’s workload.

"This technology will establish a basis for operating fully autonomous machines in the future."

The impact this will have on Australian farms remains to be seen.

Currently, Horsch products are imported into Australia by Queensland-based Muddy River Agriculture, however their local product range only includes soil cultivation and seeding machines rather than sprayers.

Muddy River Agriculture owner Peter Jack says the partnership between Horsch and Trimble has been "in the works" for several years and his colleagues in Germany, where Horsch products are manufactured, have told him their early impressions of the trial are positive.

He also believes the technological additions will be an easy transition, while laws governing autonomous vehicles in an agricultural application will be a challenge to overcome.

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