April 7, 2023
John Deere is taking high-tech farming to the next level.
The company made a splash at CES in Las Vegas two years ago when it introduced a fully self-driving tractor. It followed up at the next CES earlier this year by showing its high-tech fertilizer and chemical spreader on a long boom pulled by a tractor.
Now John Deere is demonstrating that the technology is going to work on farms.
At the John Deere Tech Summit, a three-day private event for media and tech influencers held in Austin, top executives detailed the vision, strategy and tactics for developing and deploying technology to help make farmers more proficient and productive.
“This is all real stuff,” said Jahmy Hindman, chief technology officer at John Deere. “It's not a science fair experiment and it’s making a difference in customers’ days today.”
John Deere recently purchased a 180-acre farm in Coupland, Texas, an hour’s drive from Austin, converting it to a test farm for technologically advanced farming machinery. It also opened an office in Austin.
The summit also involved a full day on that farm, seeing the technology in action firsthand and riding along in large tractors that drive themselves.
The Deere vision is to use technology to increase the overall efficiency of farming.
“There are 1 billion people on the planet today,” said Hindman. “We're headed to a world in 2050 where that number is 10 billion people. Diets are improving. They're changing across the world. That drives an increase in food consumption. So that's the need statement. The reality is there's going to be less usable land to produce that food, so we simply have to do more with less.
“Technology may not be the complete answer to that problem, but it’s a significant part of the solution.”
In recent years, Deere has been focusing on leveraging various technologies to incorporate into its machinery.
For example, a few years ago, Deere acquired Blue River, a California startup that uses computer vision and machine learning to identify whether crops are plants or weeds. The technology is now incorporated into Deere machinery.
“If you think about Deere over the last five years, we've increased the number of software engineers in the company by 350%. We have 4,300 software engineers in the company today.
“We're this tech company with 4,300 engineers who are waking up every day trying to figure out how to make agriculture better, how to make it more sustainable, more efficient, how to improve the outcomes for growers.”
“We're talking about things like AI, computer vision and robotics.
“Our mission by 2030 is to make sure 10 trillion corn and soybean seeds can be planted, cared for and harvested autonomously, if the farmer chooses to do so.”
John Deere is creating the farm of the future.
This article is the first in a series on how John Deere is taking high-tech farming to the next level.
Read more about:Smart Farming
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