By: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture staff
Saskatchewan is a leader in agriculture production and exports, but we also cultivate innovation. Our industry is consistently looking at how to do things better or in a way they’ve never been done before.
Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry is not afraid to think outside the box or, in Norbert Beaujot’s case, outside the tractor. Beaujot is the founder of DOT Technology Corporation and the inventor of the DOT Power Platform, a u-shaped, hydraulically-driven platform designed to carry farm implements and eliminate the need for a tractor.
“Imagine a farmer having breakfast with their kids and seeing them off on the school bus while watching their DOT units on a tablet interface,” Beaujot said.
With an engineering background, Beaujot decided to reimagine how autonomous technology could be used in the agriculture industry. Through the use of four hydraulic lift arms, DOT loads implements directly on its structure and the two become one functioning unit – essentially turning any implement, such as a seeder or sprayer, into a self-propelled unit. The implements must be “DOT-ready” – meaning the farm equipment is designed to accommodate connecting to DOT.
“I have worked for a few years on trying to figure out how we can scale back on implement sizes to gain back some of the inefficiencies that are inherent in the present large farm equipment. The hope is also to reduce fuel use and emissions, while reducing soil compaction,” he said. “The tendency with tractors has been to go bigger and bigger, but when going to an autonomous platform, scaling back the size becomes much more efficient.”
DOT, named to honour Beaujot’s mother Dorothy and to reflect that the machine is guided by a series of dots in its software, is currently being built by DOT Technology’s Corporation’s sister company, SeedMaster Manufacturing, near Regina.
Beaujot plans to have six DOT units functioning in fields near Regina in spring 2018, with wider availability in late 2018, early 2019. DOT will make its debut on the world stage this fall at Agritechnica, the world’s leading trade fair for ag machiney, in Germany.
For Lyle Ehrmantraut, innovation came in the form of looking to modernize business dealings in the agriculture industry. He is president and CEO of Ag Exchange Group, an online platform for grain marketing.
“Ag Exchange is like a dating site for grain. By listing specific qualities and traits of commodities, growers are able to match up with buyers who are looking for those specific characteristics,” he said.
Ehrmantraut said Ag Exchange Group revolutionizes how buyers and growers interact by making those interactions faster and more precise than ever before. The website can be accessed from any computer or mobile device and provides growers with more selling options with a fraction of the work required today.
“For the past 100 years, selling your grain required a trip to the local terminal, a phone call or an email in today’s world. It equates to fishing in your local pond without ever exploring the vast waters outside of your local area,” Ehrmantraut said.
Now the process of connecting farmers and buyers will take seconds and allows each to access a larger market so farmers can get the best deal and buyers can more easily fulfill contracts. The service creates an open, accessible and reliable ag commodity market by facilitating two-way bids and offers between producers and buyers in real time, while also allowing producers to create “asks” to sell crop inventory on their own terms.
“The only place in agriculture that technology has not touched is grain trading. When the CWB was dissolved in 2012, it became apparent that the current system’s inefficiencies were hurting growers, buyers and Canada’s overall export opportunities and technology could help,” he said.
Right now, Ag Exchange customers are largely based in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, but Ehrmantraut said there is interest from the U.S. and other countries as well. Anyone interested in signing up can do so at www.agexchangegroup.com or by calling one of the representatives on their website.