USA-based Stine Seed, the world’s largest private seed establishment, has granted US$5M in funding to autonomous agri software firm Smart Ag to develop driverless vehicles for agriculture.

Stine Seed, which holds 900 patents related to soyabean and corn genetics and which works with Monsanto and Syngenta, made the investment in Smart Ag to boost productivity and innovation within the farming sector, wrote FutureCar on 21 June.

Smart Ag’s solutions for row crop agriculture – which includes soyabeans, canola and cotton among others – catered to large scale production relying on heavy machinery, which could benefit from self-driving technology due to the sector’s methodical planting techniques and linear field layouts.

“Farming should no longer be defined by what equipment industry decides is better or more profitable. We believe agriculture is best when farmers have choices,” said Smart Ag founder and CEO Colin Hurd.

“The best way to improve our customer’s operational capacity is to enable them to use automation and driverless technology on their farms. With the correct technology and knowledge, farmers can do the seemingly impossible.”

The firm said its products were designed to streamline the adoption of driverless vehicles on farms with products such as its AutoCart solution, which could be used to equip existing tractors with self-driving technology.

Such systems could be used with grain-cart tractors during harvests, which would allow farmers to upscale operations with less labour and without having to be in the same location to initiate commands.

According to Smart Ag, its self-driving technology could perform the same tasks as a human driver even more safely and reliably.

The firm had also developed a smart data collection system that captured data – such as moisture levels, fuel consumption, crop type and tractor speed – in real time and allowed farmers for monitor their vehicles from off site.