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Farmers currently face challenges including the effects of climate change, consumer demands for sustainability, safety concerns, and government regulations. Monarch Tractor today announced what it described as ‘the world’s first fully electric, driver-optional, smart tractor integrated on a single platform,” which it said would address those challenges.
Zimeno Inc., which does business as Monarch Tractor, said it combines electrification, automation, machine learning, and data analysis to enhance farmers’ existing operations, alleviate labor shortages, and maximize yields, as well as to cut overhead costs and emissions. The Fremont, Calif.-based company said it has secured several hundred working farms as preliminary customers.
“Monarch Tractor is ushering in the digital transformation of farming with unprecedented intelligence, technology and safety features,” stated Praveen Penmetsa, co-founder and CEO of Monarch Tractor. “We have assembled a world-class team of farmers, engineers, and scientists to meet today’s farming demands and are empowering farmers by giving them intelligent tools to collect more predictive data to implement sustainable practices, better share their story, and make more money.”
“Hundreds of farmers have signed on to receive a Monarch Tractor, and we look forward to delivering a new level of sustainability and efficiency to their existing farm operations,” he said.
Monarch Tractor features
“As a fourth-generation farmer, I’ve seen firsthand the hazards that farming presents not just to workers, but to the environment as well,” said Carlo Mondavi, chief farming officer at the company. “Monarch Tractor is moving farming toward a safer and sustainable future by eliminating harmful emissions, reducing the need for herbicides, and keeping workers out of harm’s way with its driver-optional capabilities.”
Monarch Tractor said its technology has several features for environmental sustainability, safety, and data collection, including the following:
- Reduced emissions – Traditional diesel tractors produce roughly 14 times the emissions as the average car, said the company. The Monarch Tractor is 100% electric and has zero tailpipe emissions. It also serves as a 3-in-1 electrification tool operating not only as a tractor, but it can also serve as a generator in the field or, as an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) with extra storage, claimed Monarch Tractor.
- Driver optional – The tractor can operate with or without a driver. The company said it uses the latest autonomy hardware and software to provide driver-assist and driver-optional operations. The tractor can perform pre-programmed tasks without a driver, or an operator can use Monarch’s interactive automation features including Gesture and Shadow modes to have it follow a worker on the job.
- Safety – The Monarch Tractor includes safety features such as roll and collision prevention, vision-based power takeoff (PTO) safety and 360° cameras.
- Deep learning and sensor suite – The Monarch Tractor collects and analyzes over 240GB of crop data every day it operates in the field. It can work with farmers’ current implements as well as the next generation of smart tools, the company claimed. Sensors and imaging are processed to provide critical data points that can be used for real-time implement adjustments, as well as long-term yield estimates, current growth stages, and other plant/crop health metrics. With machine learning, Monarch is able to digest this data and provide long-term analysis of field health, improving accuracy the longer it runs, said the company. In addition, the data collected is securely stored in a Monarch cloud.
- Smart device operation – With a smartphone or personal device, users can receive tractor alerts, updates on current micro-weather conditions, and detailed operations reports, plus data collection, analysis, and storage for farm planning.
- Electric power – Monarch said its drivetrain is capable of providing 40HP (30KW) of continuous power and short duration peak power up to 70HP (55KW) in a small footprint for multipurpose usage.
Recognition, farmer interest growing
Monarch Tractor has received critical acclaim for its innovation. The company received “2020 Tractor of the Year” in the AgTech Breakthrough Awards, was named one of World Ag Expo’s “Top 10 Best New Products,” and was recognized in Fast Company’s “Best World-Changing Ideas: North America, Energy and Food.”
“Adopting sustainable farming practices is core to our family and company values,” said Aly Wente, director of marketing at Wente Vineyards. “We are pleased to partner with Monarch Tractor to further reduce our carbon footprint in 2021 by adding two new Monarch Tractors to our vineyard operations. We look forward to learning how Monarch can continue to help us create a more sustainable future, while also providing an efficient and safe environment for our teams.”
“The Monarch Tractor’s autonomous features take it from just an environmental sustainability idea to a really higher-productivity implement,” said Jim Hoffmann, owner of Hopville Farms. “There are a lot of ‘must do’ things on the farm that you would like to see done autonomously and not dedicating people to having them do … this tractor can do it more efficiently.”
Monarch Tractor is hosting a virtual roundtable discussion with industry friends on the future of sustainable farming on Dec. 8, 2020 at 10 a.m. PT. Monarch has a base price of $50,000 and can be reserved now with a fully refundable $500 deposit. It said shipping will commence in fall 2021.