By Gary Joiner

Innovation is synonymous with farming.

Every year features new ideas and new technologies. It’s exciting. And both farmers and consumers benefit when advancements reach the marketplace.

Farmers at a recent national farm show in Iowa were treated to a glimpse of what some are calling the future of farm equipment. A self-driving, cab-less tractor.

The red prototype belongs to Case IH. It drew quite the crowd, as you can imagine. The company says the driverless tractor could boost farm productivity, reduce labor costs and virtually work around the clock.

Case IH says the tractor can’t completely operate on its own. Skilled farmers would still be needed to remotely monitor and control the tractor. They could do so from their desktop or tablet. At home or in their pickup truck.

Farmers are now in the same seat as auto drivers when it comes to this innovation. Can operating judgments be trusted to a computer? Are there enough sensors on the vehicle to make decisions that human drivers develop with years of experience?

It will be interesting to watch. It may be another three years before the self-driving tractor is available for purchase.

Texas and American farmers embrace innovation. Consumers benefit from it. Time will tell if a driverless tractor is soon rolling in a field near you.