First MK-Vs, First Year with Constellation Brands

Monarch Tractor

It’s been one year since Constellation Brands took possession of six MK-V tractors on December 1, 2022. The day marked the entry of Monarch’s smart, electric, autonomous tractors into the market and the beginning of our first customer partnership. Looking back over the growing season, Constellation recounts an extraordinary year where nature, advanced AgTech, and teamwork resulted in a remarkable vintage and positive momentum for its initiatives in sustainability.  

Here’s what it’s like to have Monarch’s MK-V tractors working on your farm for the year. 

A Promising Partnership 

Constellation, a leading beer, wine, and spirits company, recognizes that advancing its environment, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals can help it adapt to farming’s many challenges. It saw Monarch’s MK-V tractor as a way to move towards its vision to be a leader in sustainable farming practices.  

Fleet of MK-V Tractors

Constellation Brands is deeply committed to ESG goals, and a fleet of MK-V tractors is a big part of that.

Blake Wood, Director of Vineyard Operations, Constellation Brands 

For the 2023 growing season, Constellation sent its six-tractor fleet to its To Kalon Vineyard, a 450-acre, organic vineyard renowned for producing iconic wines. The To Kalon Vineyard team was eager to use the smart, electric, autonomous tractors and found that operating them was simple and smooth.  

While enthusiasm ran high, the team had three primary concerns that arose from being frontrunners with a new and unfamiliar technology: battery runtime, implement integration, and customer support. Over the course of the year, confidence prevailed as the tractor and Monarch support proved to be reliable.  

Tasked to Perform 

Due to an unusually heavy rainy season that extended into spring, the MK-V tractors were sent into the field in late April. Their primary task was under vine cultivation, which yielded immediate financial and environmental gains. 

When you go organic, I think people forget that means you have to do multiple things and take multiple passes and that requires burning fuel. With a Monarch, you’re eliminating that and all the other things that go along with a regular tractor like emissions and fuel costs.

Harinder Dhaliwal, General Manager, Vineyard Development, Constellation Brands 

MK-V Tractor at Constellation Brands

The operators were particularly enamored with the MK-V’s Row Follow, a partially autonomous, advanced driver assist feature that was used during under vine cultivation operations. Operators could focus on the implement for increased precision and performance. 

Dhaliwal says, “We’ve used the Monarch tractors pretty much to do any operation we would do with a conventional tractor — under vine cultivation, mowing, discing, chopping. We used it during harvest and we’re using it during our cover crop operations.”  

For harvest, Dhaliwal and Wood were impressed with the increased level of safety the MK-V brought to the field. The MK-V’s work lights, camera technology, and smart screen increased visibility both in being able to keep track of crew and gain insights into the operations.  

EV Tractor

The absence of combustion, carbon emissions, and the quietness of the working environment was a real benefit for the worker.

Blake Wood, Director of Vineyard Operations, Constellation Brands 

With digital connectivity the MK-V is more than an electric tractor. Wood and Dhaliwal used Monarch’s Wingspan Ag Intelligence (WingspanAI) to keep track of operations and field work. Checking trailer bin status, locating a particular tractor and its crew, and getting data on distance covered, speed, and other metrics proved to be valuable.  

“It’s great to have access to the real-time data and know where the tractors are, where they’ve been, and what they’re up to,” Wood reports.  

In addition to operational data, WingspanAI provides valuable metrics for better data-driven decision-making. From roughly end of April through November, WingspanAI’s analysis reported:  

  • Over 1,700 hours of usage for operations with the MK-V.
  • Over 9,000 kWh of energy used, resulting in *energy savings of more than $16,000. 
  • Nearly 8,000 kg of CO2 emissions savings.  

* Accounts for diesel fuel savings and additional accrued electricity costs.  

Planting the Future 

With harvest behind them, the Constellation team is making plans for next year’s expansion of Monarch’s Autodrive features. The team is already using the MK-V’s autonomous seeding feature and is also training the tractor with GPS technology to map the rows for other autonomous operations. 

Constellation has moved some of its MK-V tractors to other vineyards and is eager to continue realizing environmental and financial gains through the MK-V. “I’m happy to be looking into future-forward initiatives and Monarch is definitely one of those,” Wood says.   


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