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Monarch Electric Tractor – new driverless $50K smart tractor could be a game changer for small farms

The new Monarch 100% Electric Tractor was launched earlier this week in the USA, and it looks to be a real breakthrough product for farmers. The low cost 3 in 1 workhorse can operate not only as a tractor, but also an ATV and a field generator if remote power is needed (e.g. for on the spot welding). And that’s not to say it lacks in the tractor features either. It offers 10 hours autonomous operation, with a 4-5 hour recharge and will deliver 40HP continuous (70HP peak) power. The makers also claim a 20 year lifecycle with 10 year battery warranty, which is pretty reassuring.

But it’s the tech extras that are really cool. The tractor comes with an array of cameras and sensors and can collect over 240GB of crop data every day of operation. This data will hugely improve the farmer’s yield estimates, growth rates, and other crucial metrics needed to make timely decisions. The data is totally owned by the farmer (who can sell it or whatever) and is stored safely in the cloud. The data can be accessed remotely via any smartphone, and the makers even claim that the tractor features machine learning to improve it’s data processing quality over time. Pretty cool.

For those rightfully suggesting that we need to move away from ploughing and start to adopt more sustainably ’till-free’ farming, there are two points to remember. First light surface tilling can still be a very useful tool in sustainable farming. Second, there are a lot of situations outside of ploughing where a tractor is essential. Such as hay baling, fruit harvesting, compost management and the like. We can see this little dude being very useful for small or medium scale farmers who want to keep their carbon footprint down to a minimum. Monarch says their product can save an average of $45 in fuel costs a day (and 53 tons of CO2e p.a.), which means a payback period of something like 3 years or so. The first run of product has already been sold to ‘several hundred farmers’, so there’s clearly a demand out there. Pre-orders are available with a $500 deposit payment, and the first tractors should hit the dirt sometime later in 2021. Story Via

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