April 21 - 24, 2020
JW Marriott Palm Desert Resort & Spa, CA
Here's How John Deere Is Working with Farmers to Improve Agriculture
Brought to you by WBR Insights
The agricultural industry is at something of a crossroads at the moment. New farming techniques and customer expectations are meaning professionals in this industry are having to rethink the way they do business.
The traditional farming method relies on monoculture, mechanization, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, biotechnology, and government subsidies, and has made food abundant and affordable for generations. Unfortunately, this method has wrought a steep ecological and social price on the planet—erosion, depleted and contaminated soil and water resources, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, labor abuses, and the decline of the family farm.
While organic farming attempts to address some if not all of these issues, there are, however, concerns around relatively low crop yields and increased land use. There is also the fear that, should the agriculture industry commit to these practices wholesale, we could be facing food shortages for our ever-increasing population—predicted to hit eight billion by 2030.
It would appear that a balance needs to be found, and companies such as John Deere believe that technology holds the key—something which has been part of its business since its inception.
"Our namesake, John Deere, was an innovator himself and developed the world's first polished steel self-scouring plow that was able to open up the West to agricultural advancement," said Director of Advanced Technology at John Deere, John Teeple.
The first paradigm shift in John Deere's new direction was in its appointment of a new CEO. Elevated to the position from Chief Operating Officer in August 2019, John May also spent six years as the farming machinery brand's Head of Agricultural Solutions and Chief Information Officer providing him with a deep understanding of the industry and its pain points.
However, the most significant thing about May is that he has a strong background in digital technology. He was behind a deal that saw John Deere acquire new artificial intelligence and machine learning tech that allows farmers to apply pesticides on a plant by plant basis—thereby significantly reducing the number of chemicals used and protecting the environment—and is able to distinguish crops from weeds automatically. John Deere understands that pesticides have fallen out of favor with large portions of the food-buying public, but also that they are necessary for producing the quantities of food required by the expanding population.
"We are seeing the emergence of productivity-boosting concepts such as artificial intelligence and machine learning," said May. "These technologies have game-changing promise in terms of improving yields and making more efficient use of fertilizers, herbicides and other chemicals. Decisions once made at the field level are evolving to section level, row level, even to the plant level."
Using this technology, therefore, provides the company with a way to work with farmers to find a balance between these two positions and keep pesticide use to an absolute minimum.
The Industrial Internet of Things
John Deere is also making farming more economic and sustainable through its incredible IoT innovations. Connected farm machinery is able to perform agricultural work more effectively than ever before.
Self-driving tractors fitted with the latest IoT GPS technology can steer themselves through fields adhering to precise guidance lines. By using this technology to remove any divergence from pre-set parameters, John Deere's connected fleet is estimated to be able to save farmers ten percent on their total input costs.
Those same machines can also transmit data via a 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This data can then be gathered and studied by John Deere's field service arm and used to make improvements on the technology while also being able to adopt a proactive maintenance philosophy which allows it to address any issues before they result in large scale failures and a loss of productivity, revenue, or product.
"Deere made a strategic investment to ensure its role in the technology revolution on the farm," said Senior Vice President at Deere and Company's Intelligent Solutions Group, John Stone. "We strive to bring leading-edge technologies to solve problems and capture opportunities that will make Deere customers the most profitable and sustainable farmers in the world."
John Deere has technology baked into its DNA and has been continuing that legacy for nearly two centuries. By making sure it has technologically minded people in the right positions and deploying Industry 4.0 innovations such as the IIoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and more, it's ensuring that the agriculture industry is able to meet the demands of a growing population while keeping a firm focus on sustainability and efficiency.
You can hear John Deere's Director of Global Proactive Customer Services, Angela Johanningmeier, speak at Field Service Palm Springs 2020, taking place in April at the JW Marriott Palm Desert Resort & Spa, CA.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.