Danish John Deere dealer Semler Agro and Dutch autonomous specialist Precision Makers have teamed up to develop what is believed to be the most powerful autonomous John Deere tractor so far. Taking less than a year to finish, the 320hp 8320R will be unveiled at a Danish press event today (December 11) and available for farmers and contractors to see in the field tomorrow.

Based on a more advanced version of the Dutch-developed X-Pert autonomous kit featured in the February 2017 issue of profi (Fendt Vario 516), the more powerful front-mounted laser scanner on the 8R detects obstacles up to a maximum distance of 100m in front of the tractor. The Danish company stresses someone has to be in the field to supervise the tractor. Typical examples could include a combine harvester operator supervising an 8R with a cultivator in the same field, or a drill tractor driver monitoring an autonomous 8R with a plough or cultivator, again in the same field.

For now, the plug and play autonomous kit is only available on 8R Series AutoPowr tractors, but it is possible similar technology could migrate to other John Deere tractor ranges in the future. 8R prices depend on the level of spec but as a rough guide start from around DK350,000 (£41,500). Additional laser scanners to detect movement to the sides and rear of the tractor will cost an extra DK50,000-75,000. (£5,900-£8,900).

Available since 2012, Precision Makers has installed the X-Pert system on more than 30 Fendt tractors (two-dozen 200 Varios for orchard work). The Fendt 936 Vario owned by Australian farmer Gerrit Kurstjens is still the most powerful autonomous tractor fitted with the Dutch-developed system.