Autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors are a ground-breaking innovation for the agricultural sector. This innovation is anticipated to boost agricultural produce with minimal labor cost engagement. Autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors minimizes the human effort required in farm processes such as harvesting, seed sowing, fertilization, and scarifying.
Semi-autonomous tractors reduce human effort by assisting the driver in certain actions, while autonomous tractors are fully, driverless tractors, which completely replace the driver with several software and hardware components. Moreover, fully driverless tractors are controlled by handheld devices (remote control systems). The market for autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors is anticipated to expand significantly and surpass US$ 9 Bn by 2026.
High labor cost and limited availability of labor for farming are likely to propel the market for autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors, as it is expected to reduce the requirement of labor and would increase output for farmers. Autonomous tractors are more precise and help in planting, sowing, harvesting, and performing other functions more precisely, which helps enhance yield with minimum loss. In most countries, working hours are governed by laws; however autonomous tractors can be operated continuously without any time restriction, which can be a significant factor in enhancing yield of crops.
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Autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors comprise crop yield monitoring systems that track the crop and field and assist the owner in managing the field according to the property of the soil. Autonomous tractors are more precise and accurate, thus reduce the chances of collision with obstructions arriving in the path of tractors, which results in reduction of maintenance cost of tractors, except the regular maintenance cost. Functioning of autonomous tractors is independent of external factors such as weather and light conditions. High cost of autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors is anticipated to be a key factor that is likely to hamper the market; however, they are expected to be profitable in the long-term, as they are expected to repay their cost by saving on labor charges.
North America and Europe have witnessed a rise in adoption of precision agriculture in the last few years. Availability of large fields, limited labor availability, and massive grasslands in these regions and high per capita income are major factors driving the autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors market in these regions. Increase in geriatric population in Japan, who lack the power to handle conventional mechanical tractors with consistency, is likely to boost the autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors market in the country during the forecast period. According to the United Nations, the birth rate in Japan has plummeted since 2015, and the death rate has simultaneously deteriorated, which has led to an imbalance in the working population.
Japan is at the forefront in the development of autonomous tractors due to the presence of large number of manufacturers in the region. Furthermore, China is major producer and exporter of farm products, thus it is likely to adopt autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors during the forecast period in order to enhance their production. Some leading wineries, such as E. & J. Gallo Winery, a prominent family-owned winery in the world, collaborated with New Holland and Autonomous Solutions Inc. to manufacture fully autonomous tractors for their vineyards. Likewise, Campbell Soup Company partnered with Case IH and Autonomous Solutions Inc. for development of fully autonomous tractors. Thus, the presence of large number of wineries in some countries, such as France, Italy, and Spain, is likely to boost the demand for autonomous tractors for wine yards in these countries.
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The global autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors market in developing regions, such as Asia Pacific, is expected to expand at a significant growth rate during the forecast period, as the market for semi-autonomous tractors is expected to expand at a rapid pace in countries such as China and India, owing to their lower cost as compared to the fully driverless tractors. Furthermore, the penetration of fully driverless tractors is expected to remain low during the forecast period due to the availability of adequate labor in China and India; however, the penetration is expected to increase after the forecast period due to reduction in cost of driverless tractors owing to development of full-fledged production line of tractors and declining number of labor in sub-regions of Asia Pacific. Moreover, most of the population in the region prefers desk jobs over field work.
Major players who are continuously involved into the development of autonomous and semi-autonomous tractors include AGCO Corporation, CNH Industrial N.V., Deere & Company, Escorts Limited, Komatsu America Corp., Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., SAME DEUTZ-FAHR Italia S.p.A., Ag Leader Technology, Agjunction, Inc., Autonomous Solutions Inc., Raven Industries, Inc., Trimble, Inc., and YANMAR CO., LTD. Among all the manufacturers, CNH Industrial N.V. and YANMAR CO., LTD are at the forefront in the development of the autonomous tractors.