In 2015, Monarch CEO and Co-founder, Praveen Penmetsa, asked a farmer what he was going to do with the fuel savings from his electric tractor. “I’m going to use the money to send my kids to college because there is no future in farming,” the farmer replied.
“When farmers say there is no future in farming, it’s a sad state of affairs, Penmetsa says.
Penmetsa shared this anecdote with a room full of farmers during his presentation “A Tractor is the Most Important Vehicle on the Planet” at World Ag Expo 2023. After a deep dive into the challenges facing farmers, Penmetsa discussed how a tractor can be the catalyst for a more profitable and healthier future in agriculture.
A Stack of Challenges
After talking with farmers around the world, Penmetsa recognized they were all significantly challenged by a lack of labor and relentless economic pressures. A declining workforce (as much as 70% over 50 years) makes labor productivity more important than ever. Meanwhile, the fundamental economics of farming are not good. Since 2015, overall agricultural output has plateaued. In response, farmers turned to more chemical inputs — fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides — to increase their yields. It’s a strategy for short-term success. Today, farmers are spending more and more money for increasingly smaller returns on their investments.
The solution, Penmetsa says, comes from innovating the most commonly used piece of ag equipment in the world – the tractor. Specifically, the small or compact tractor. Penmetsa introduced the MK-V, the world’s only electric, driver-optional, and smart tractor as the type of tractor that can provide the profitability and farm sustainability farmers want.
“Farmers know best how to farm,” Penmetsa says. “It’s a matter of putting the right tools in their hands so they can do what they really want to do.”
The Monarch Solution
The MK-V tackles farming’s biggest challenges — labor shortage, environmental damage, and safety and traceability. Field trials reveal that with electrification the MK-V saves 58% on fuel costs and 45% on maintenance savings. Its vision-based autonomy reduces labor by 75% allowing farm hands to complete critical farm operations on time. The tractor’s smart technology increases labor productivity by 15% and reduces chemical input by 35%. It also reduces the stress, time, and hassle of reporting expenses, which currently cost about $700/acre for California farms.
Ultimately, the MK-V is loaded with small details that add up to make a big difference each day. Penmetsa also shares with event attendees many real-life, detailed examples of how the technology of an MK-V supports a tractor operator and farm manager along with how daily chores would play out.
But attendees wanted to know, is the MK-V easy to use and practical? For Monarch, asking a farmer to input data, change the way they run operations, purchase new implements, or spend hours learning how to operate a new type of tractor is a “hard no.” In addition to ease of use, MK-V technology features extensive safety and preventative measures, which Penmetsa details.
“The MK-V works with today’s implements and the next generation of implements, Penmetsa says. “If it works with your diesel tractor, it works with ours.”
Purchase Power for the Future
When it comes time to buy a new tractor, a diesel tractor becomes a depreciating asset from day one. It doesn’t reduce labor costs, it won’t reduce fuel or maintenance expenses, and it won’t make reporting costs go any lower. In contrast, a Monarch MK-V is going to have an impact on all three of those areas the moment it enters your fields. That appreciating value is powering the future of farm profitability for today and generations to come.