Daren Richins is a hay farmer from Coalville, Utah and one of Sabanto’s first Steward customers. His Steward autonomy kit runs on a Kubota M5 tractor that has done over 200 hours of autonomous seeding, mowing and raking operations in the hills surrounding Coalville.
Daren was raised in Coalville, but he didn’t grow up in an Ag family. He first got the opportunity to work on a neighbor’s farm in high school and knew almost immediately that he was destined to be a farmer. He’s a big fan of technology and jumped at the chance to combine that with his passion for farming.
Our relationship with Daren started back in May of 2022 when he first got wind that we were building an autonomy kit for tractors. Wanting to be first in line, he jumped in his truck and came out to see Steward in action in our Nevada, Iowa test field.
Pace Custom Hire is a small enterprise that manages over 300 fields of hay for ranchers and other landowners in and around Coalville. Their customers don’t have the time or equipment to tend to these fields which produce feed for their livestock. Daren and his associates are using a Farming as a Service (FaaS) model to serve their customers, and Steward helps them to succeed in a labor strapped environment.
Note: Front mounted 3pt hitches aren’t yet supported by Steward.
Daren, like all farmers, is a resourceful person and immune to the phrase, “It can’t be done”. The image above shows Daren using Steward to mow, even though front mount hitches aren’t yet supported by Sabanto.
We invited Daren to our company-wide holiday party in Ames, Iowa in mid December so we could get to know him better and for him to share his experience as one of the first customers to buy the Steward autonomy kit. While here, he remarked that it’s been sort of a homecoming to return to Iowa and meet everyone at Sabanto. “It’s been especially cool to talk face to face with people I’ve gotten to know over the phone, and to meet people behind the product that I enjoy using,” Richins said. “Everyone at Sabanto is so friendly and helpful. They’ve been with me every step of the way on my journey to adopt autonomy,” he went on to say.
Daren is a huge fan of multiple field operations that Steward does for his company and plans to buy more systems in the future as their business continues to grow. During his visit to our shop in Nevada, Iowa, he got first glimpse of the Deere 5100E running with Steward. He said it was a dream come true as he already owns that exact model of tractor. “For me it’s great to know that I don’t have to learn anything new to use the 5100E with Steward’s Mission Control software. All the autonomous planning and operation tasks that I would use with the Deere are exactly the same as what I do with my Kubota M5 today,” Daren noted.
Daren spent 2 hours with our employees in a Q&A session discussing what’s been working well and areas that need improvement. Lead Product Manager, Chris Mikelson, was thrilled to get the opportunity to ask Daren how we could improve Steward even further. Chris commented, “Hearing Daren’s honest feedback from his real-word experiences using Steward was incredibly valuable and it really increased our confidence that we are building and prioritizing the right things.”
What we learned from Daren during his visit will certainly show up in the What’s New section of future newsletters. One soon to be released feature is about getting timely notifications when Steward needs your attention. According to Daren it’s crucial to him being more successful. You’ll get to read more about that in January!
This success story is a testament to the transformative power of autonomy in agriculture. It’s not just about efficiency — it’s about unlocking new possibilities and taking farming to the next level.
If you’re curious about how autonomy can revolutionize your operations, we’d love to show you — Book A Demo today! 🤝