An economic feasibility assessment of autonomous field machinery in grain crop production

Jordan M. Shockley, Carl R. Dillon, Scott A. Shearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

A multi-faceted whole farm planning model is developed to compare conventional and autonomous machinery for grain crop production under various benefit, farm size, suitable field day risk aversion, and grain price scenarios. Results suggest that autonomous machinery can be an economically viable alternative to conventional manned machinery if the establishment of intelligent controls is cost effective. An increase in net returns of 24% over operating with conventional machinery is found when including both input savings and a yield increase due to reduced compaction. This study also identifies the break-even investment price for intelligent controls for the safe and reliable commercialization of autonomous machinery. Results indicate that the break-even investment price is highly variable depending on the financial benefits resulting from the deployment of autonomous machinery, farm size, suitable field day risk aversion, and grain prices. The maximum break-even investment price for intelligent, autonomous controls is nearly US$500 000 for the median days suitable for fieldwork when including both input savings and a yield increase due to reduced compaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1068-1085
Number of pages18
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Economics
  • Machinery selection
  • Mathematical programming
  • Whole farm planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences

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