John Deere, an agricultural machinery, municipal and garden equipment manufacturer headquartered in Moline in the U.S. state of Illinois, is one of the global big players in agricultural technology with sales of more than $40 billion. In addition to large-scale equipment such as combine harvesters, corn choppers and tractors, the company also manufactures balers, seed drills, crop protection equipment as well as front and wheel loaders and transport, utility and work vehicles, and finally lawn mowers and lawn tractors. From elegant compact tractors to large planters for bed crops, the company has been fully committed to precision agriculture in recent years.
This is largely due to the triumph of GPS-based field cultivation and digitalization in general. John Deere’s latest machines for high-value crops vary greatly in size, from compact tractors that push seamlessly through rows of vines to giant planters as tall as buildings. But apart from their distinctive green color, the one feature that links all the machines is technology. The 184-year-old company is totally dedicated to precision agriculture.
High-tech and precision features are at the forefront of Deere’s tractors, loaders and sprayers, which are designed to meet the diverse needs of farmers with high-value crops. The company’s offerings include cloud-based services such as JDLink, which allows farmers to track their machines’ work in the field, and AutoTrac, which provides hands-free control of tractors using GPS coordinates. For customers, JDLink is a free service, according to John Deere. In addition, almost any modern tractor can be retrofitted with the cloud service. Recently, the company presented its latest innovations at one of its regular field days: In the company’s range of machinery for high-value crops, which include not only vineyards and orchards, but also myriad field crops such as carrots, melons, onions, pumpkins, lettuce, peanuts and pines, John Deere showcased new developments and products for farmers.
An outsider might think of John Deere in terms of a corn or wheat field, but the company has a whole line of products designed specifically for high-value crops – whether in California, Oregon, Washington, the Northeast or for citrus in Florida. Such crops require very specialized machinery. They are necessary because the specialty crops are quite different in terms of their technical requirements than those for which the steel plow was invented. Deere has long touted the versatility and durability of its machines, but in recent years the company has focused on efficiency. The web-based John Deere Operations Center includes features such as a work scheduler that allows customers to set up jobs for their workers during the day and send the data to the machines.
Last year, John Deere entered into an agreement with Smart Guided Systems to distribute the Smart-Apply Intelligent Spray Control System for use with its tractors in high-value crops. The system is a retrofit kit for trailed air sprayers that can dramatically reduce the risk of chemical drift and significantly reduce the amount of product applied, according to the company. The Smart Apply system ensures that only the canopy is sprayed, and it automatically adjusts the spray volume to match the plant density per nozzle area. This feature saves operating costs while contributing to environmental sustainability in the fields it treats. Earlier this year, Deere acquired Silicon Valley-based Bear Flag Robotics to accelerate autonomous technology in agriculture. The Bear Flag team includes agricultural experts, engineers and technologists focused on autonomy, sensor fusion, vision, data, software and hardware, according to Deere.
The company is one of the 12 World Technology Leaders
running for the international public vote 2021.