Autonomous Machinery in the field in Brazil

UNIPORT 3030 ELETROVORTEX 2 Máquinas Autônomas Tecnologia Agro

“Operational efficiency and quality levels achieved justify the investments”

Exclusive interview with Fernando Gonçalves, Jacto’s President.

Fernando Gonçalves Presidente Jacto Máquinas Autônomas

Fernando Gonçalves, President of Jacto

Fernando Gonçalves is a mechanical engineer, post graduated in business from Harvard University. Before taking over the management of the company, Fernando worked on product development in agricultural machinery, innovation, industrial management and company management.

Jacto was founded in 1948, it is one the main companies in the manufacture of agricultural machinery in Brazil, operating in more than 100 countries. 

AgriBrasilis – What are the technologies of the future that are already part of farmers’ daily routine?

Fernando Gonçalves – Some new trends and technologies that are already well disseminated and seen in national and international agriculture fairs are autonomous vehicles, drones, tools that enable multiple experiences and many startups focused on agribusiness, offering solutions to crops, machinery and farmers. 

In general, I believe that systems integration is a challenge to agribusiness. For the success of Internet of Things (IoT) it is important the breadth of scale and widespread use, with attention to professional qualification for the full use of these technologies. Moreover, with we talk about a future based on digitalization, we need a special gaze for infrastructure and connectivity on the farms.

An example of automation is Jacto’s Arbus 4000 JAV for spraying. It’s project begun in 2008, and ever since the company has presented to prototypes to the market. Tests were made with citrus and forestry, and now this version is presents as commercially viable product, that will be available in the form of a full service to farmers.


 Arbus 4000 JAV Máquinas Autônomas Citricultura Tecnologia Agro

AgriBrasilis – How can autonomous machinery contribute to crop profitability?

Fernando Gonçalves – Because autonomous machinery have more embedded systems, technologies and softwares, they are more expensive than their traditional equivalents, which is an entry barrier. So the question is how to justify the investment. When we look at experiences in industry, CNC machining machinery and welding robots, for example, we see that after a few decades the acquisition cost is still higher than the conventional ones, however the operational efficiency and quality levels achieved justify the high investment.

In the case of agriculture, we see the same process. We look to the current equipment’s efficiency. Because of a number of reasons, including lack of visibility, a major part of the population doesn’t know these numbers. We still have the theme of work Quality. For example: how much does na application operation of a deficient defensive affected the crop results? We can infer, but it is hard to know what would have happened if something were better.

With autonomous machines, it is possible to have a better use of the capacity. Since operations are automatic and all the “movie” recorded, we have an auditable operation and with a much better quality. The use of agricultural solutions with management concepts in sight and connectivity support in the fields, allows monitoring the operations and decision making throughout the processes giving a holistic view not only of that operation, but of the whole production, this brings management to new levels.


AgriBrasilis – What is the role of these tools in the search for a more sustainable agriculture?

Fernando Gonçalves – In this context, there is also a great appeal to sustainability matters, which are absolutely necessary and already impact the farmer and the way he produces, such as traceability matters.

The population wants to know what they are eating and which resources were used in the production process of that food. Because of that, technologies that allow an accurate monitoring, from the fields to the table, are increasingly more demanded by the consumers.

In this way, we defend that it is needed to change the whole ecosystem, with apprenticeship and collective experiences, leading people, which will take the role of translating these new tools to the everyday at the fields. Transform the technology, that is very complex into something simple and that the farmer can use.

Today we have a clear notion that to mass-produce these technologies it is needed to show the gains in an easy way. In this sense, we highlight the use of the automatic pilot, which decreased greatly the kneading and the application overlapping of inputs during spraying and illustrates in a clear way this “showing gains” matter. These technologies already are well widespread and current. We need to walk in this sense with the remaining. And to have an idea of the complexity of this scenario, in one of our sprayers, the Uniport 3030, every 5 second 300 types of information are sent to the cloud which could provide prediction and a correction of the machine’s work in the crop, in real time.


AgriBrasilis – How should the farmers prepare to adopt the use of these tools?

Fernando Gonçalves – It is true that these technologies are increasingly more present in the fields. However, there is still some fear regarding the availability of qualified manpower to operate these technologies.

Professional qualification is key. Besides increasing the farmer’s unit productivity, it improves work conditions and remuneration, attracting even more professionals. Many companies, and this is a principle of Jacto, that provide the technologies, also offer the needed training to utilize them. Our app Jacto Connect includes training modules and qualification.