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Deere tackling the ag tech barriers

A Minnesota grower recently told me, “We are all better together than we are apart.” That statement is especially true when it comes to ag tech.

For years, farmers have struggled to find a system that effortlessly connects the dots among the myriad apps they are using to collect yield, moisture, machine, and nutrient data. 

“We have farmers who are literally sending us software companies, so that they don’t have to rely on a USB stick to share field data,” says Kayla Reynolds, digital business development manager for John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group.

“It isn’t enough to have one idea anymore,” says Steven Lerch, Story Arc Consulting. “Companies are learning that you have to be part of a bigger culture.”

An award-winning international public speaker and consultant, and a highly respected voice in the world of digital strategy, marketing, consumer behavior, and innovation, Lerch addressed an audience of nearly 700 John Deere dealers, software companies, ag service providers, and others from 13 countries at the recent Develop with Deere conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

In its seventh year, the event gives attendees the opportunity to share ideas as well as learn about the latest digital tools and applications in agriculture. It also offers ag tech companies who have created a solution that does one special thing but don’t want to build their own digital platform, the opportunity to utilize the John Deere Operations Center. 

“We have the vehicle with the technology on it that’s capturing data, so we’re a natural place for the data to be stored,” Reynolds says. “With 157 connected software tools available, 50 of which were added in the last year alone, our open API platform enables customers or any trusted advisors they grant access to, to send instructions directly to machines executing a task in the field. These are real-world solutions that add value for the farmer and his operation.”

The company says it plans to continue investing significant resources into the John Deere Operations Center in the form of new tools and applications. 

Building a program to meet customers’ needs

With a record 123 companies attending and more than 40 demonstrations and on-boarding sessions at this year’s event, Neal Condrey saw first-hand the potential these applications hold for his customers at Goldman Equipment, LLC.

Throughout his more than 20-year career with the Louisiana dealership, he has seen the business evolve from simply selling horsepower to embracing technology.

“In our area, growers want to do more with data, but they were either not willing to take the time to do it or they didn’t have the aptitude,” says Condrey, who serves as the dealership’s General Manager. “These companies are able to fill in some of the holes for us, which has allowed us to become who we are today. That not only differentiates us from red, blue or other color machines, it also differentiates us from our John Deere competitors.”

Recognized as the place to go for technology, the thirteen-location dealership offers tools from companies like Precision Terrain Solutions and AgDNA.

And Condrey is always on the lookout to add more partners to the dealership’s portfolio. “Crop reporting to USDA is still very cumbersome,” he says. “There are actually two or three companies at this event that I’ve talked to, so I can learn how we can automate that process and make it easier for growers.”

Goldman Equipment is one of over 150 John Deere dealers who attended the Develop with Deere 2020. “As a software company, it would take a lot of miles through the countryside to connect with that many dealers,” Reynolds says. “This event is a pretty efficient sales call.”

With those added partnerships also comes pressure to ensure the dealership is equipped to handle the growth.

“We support and handle the technology that is available right now well,” Condrey says. “What keeps me up at night is what’s next, and how do we evolve to make sure we support and take care of that as it goes forward?”

Those questions are ones all dealerships face as agriculture becomes more digitized.

The six companies below, who participated in Develop with Deere 2020, have developed solutions they hope will become a part of agriculture’s digital future.

1. Ag-Analytics. This start-up offers a platform with tools that make utilizing farm data easier than ever. The solution helps farmers better manage and visualize their production records to make informed decisions when it comes to understanding risk.

Through its connection with the John Deere Operations Center, Ag-Analytics allows farmers to easily pull precision data from farm equipment into the Ag-Analytics platform and integrate with a wide variety of data feeds, offering extensive analysis and easy-to-understand data reporting for farmers.

2. Agrimatics. The company’s grain cart weighing and data management system, Libra Cart, automatically records the date, time, weight, and GPS location of each grain cart unload, and provides load tracking from field to truck to destination. The Libra Cart hardware mounts directly to the grain cart and wirelessly communicates with the Libra Cart app. 

3. Conservis. Conservis allows you to automatically integrate your as-applied and yield data directly from the John Deere Operations Center or Climate FieldView. With one unified view, you have insight into activities as they happen. Your data is then seamlessly integrated with all aspects of your business including crop plans, land ownership, and financials.

4. RealmFive. The Connectivity Platform from RealmFive bridges the coverage gap with a low-cost, scalable solution for remote operations in the field. Its R5 Core uses upgraded LoRa technology to connect up to 50 devices to a single cellular data GatewayRather than paying a cellular or satellite subscription for each device, multiple devices are connected to the Gateway, which then sends data to the cloud. 

5. Scale-Tec. The company’s newly established connection with the John Deere Operations Center enables REAP users to view their harvest scale data from Scale-Tec directly within their Operations Center account. 

At the conference, Scale-Tec debuted PULSE, a smart device that autonomously detects when a load of harvested product is transferred out of a grain cart. The end result is automatic recording and delivery of the associated harvest weight data to the producer. 

6. T3RRA. This company provides solutions for advanced landforming and agricultural water management. 

For example, T3RRA Cutta is an in-cab landforming system. When paired with John Deere’s iGrade, it allows a user to easily survey, optimize, and implement landforming operations. Together with John Deere’s iGrade, T3RRA Ditch enables a user to survey, design, optimize, and implement drain and ditching operations. 

Leaning on other’s expertise

Because John Deere knows what it is good at and where it should focus, the company says it will continue to develop tools that optimize machinery and make that machine perform better in the future.

“We also realize we cannot be a subject matter expert in every area of agriculture,” Reynolds says.

For example, there are a lot of companies who are really good at agronomy. They understand the plant. They understand the genetics behind that plant. They understand the data behind that plant and what it needs based on what hybrid it is.

“If we can bring those two together – where the recommendation is being done by the people who know how to do it, but its executed via a John Deere machine without the farmer having to really do a lot of hard work – it will make precision agriculture easier than it ever has been before,” she says.

After all, we are all better together than we are apart.

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