Mike Houghtaling founded P&C Ag Solutions in 2000 to meet the demand for an independent agronomist / technology consultant to help growers select and integrate new and emerging precision farming technologies. Today, the independent retailer represents 40 lines (including Ag Leader, Precision Planting, 360 Yield Center, OPI Integris, Dawn, Martin and Yetter) – all of which have proven themselves for the first time on the widely diverse farm of 3,000. acres that he operates with members of his family.
“The biggest hurdle to overcome with autonomy is the speed at which it moves,” says Houghtaling, now president of P&C Ag in Reese, Michigan. “It is still going too slowly and the development is done by seasons. But we’re almost there.
Houghtaling, who is making a return to the Precision Farming Dealer Summit after a presentation 4 years ago, shares how his company sees the stages of self-reliance to come.
Step 1. “Prove reliability, consistency and necessity on our own farm. We’ve proven it, but reliability is still the missing key.
2nd step. “We will have had 5-7 demonstrations in the countryside where we have given growers the technology to use, to show that it works and to put them at ease with the fact that it is happening and exists right now. We currently have 2 demonstration systems in our yard.
Step 3. “A key person whose job is to sell autonomy solutions. We target medium to small producers. My instinct is that the 1,000 acre farmers will start with self-reliance. Why? They want to do the job themselves; they don’t like to hire and manage people, but they know they have to increase the size / scope of their farm to be profitable. They will be the ones who will recognize that they can achieve this through autonomous driving technologies.
Step 4. “This is the stage at which widespread and ubiquitous adoption will take place, such as where we are today with automatic guidance technology.”
Step 5. “Soon the aftermarket and startups will be uprooted when CNH, John Deere and AGCO lift the veil on their plans and present inexpensive options that work on standard and existing units.”
Step 6. “At this point, we’ll see stand-alone solutions that a farmer doesn’t have to own but can rent,” he says, comparing it to an Uber-like farming model. “For maximum efficiency, you can subscribe to a service that takes care of planting, tillage and harvesting.
He envisions a day when farmers will no longer care about machinery.
“Before the tractor, the farmer had horses and tools and focused on growing food. Since then, farmers have become more concerned with machines and hiring for it. Robotics will change that and put the focus back on the science of growth again. “
Mike Houghtaling, President of P&C Solutions, will present at a special panel at the 2022 Precision Farming Dealer Summit on “What it will take to promote, demonstrate and sell autonomy to farmers”. For more information on the roundtable or the full event, visit www.precisionsummit.com.