Agriculture, AgTech June 03, 2021
Turn digital agriculture into on-farm profitability
By Benji Blevin
Precision Ag Manager, John Deere Australia and New Zealand
John Deere Australia and New Zealand, Precision Agriculture Manager, Benji Blevin shares four steps farmers can take now, with technology they already have, to make the most of the John Deere Digital Ecosystem.
As the wide-reaching benefits of digital agriculture are being recognised across a growing number of farm businesses, the Australian farm sector sits on the cusp of an era-defining change in the way food and fibre is produced.
John Deere Australia and New Zealand, Precision Agriculture Manager, Benji Blevin, said delivering simple-to-use packages of technology that help farmers to adopt AgTech in a time and resource-effective way would be crucial to industry further accessing the production and performance gains achievable through precision farming.
"There's no doubt digital agriculture has made the transition from what was a concept for the future, to something that is being effectively used by producers now to make management decisions that are yielding real economic and sustainability outcomes," Mr Blevin said.
"We have created easy-to-use and relevant resources for farmers that enable them to either begin their digital ag journey, or develop knowledge to extract even more value and performance from digital technology."
John Deere's Digital Ecosystem, including the John Deere Operations Center, connects equipment, people and information to enable near real-time data collection, with streaming every 30 seconds to the Cloud, while ensuring information is preserved for future decision making.
Importantly, John Deere has also addressed a key concern raised in the early days of digital agriculture — the security and control of data.
"Our customers trust their John Deere machinery is reliable and of high quality, and their data is no different," Mr Blevin said.
"John Deere has invested in robust data systems with cyber-security protocols, underpinned by data privacy policies about how we collect and use data in our user agreements.
"To us, it is critical customers control their own data and make the decisions about who can access it."
Inbuilt capability through telematics
Telematics technology was first introduced in John Deere machines with JDLink™ in 2011. Growers with equipment manufactured since then will most likely already have the tools they need to achieve positive shifts in efficiency and production.
As equipment operates in the paddock, the data collected is automatically streamed to the grower's John Deere Operations Center account. This central portal can be accessed via computer, tablet or smartphone, empowering users to take control anywhere, anytime.
The connection to equipment is two-way, allowing growers to send information, including boundaries, guidance lines, flags and work to be completed to operators in the paddock, helping them to execute the work more efficiently and accurately.
Progress can be monitored remotely, with potential mistakes identified before they cause machinery downtime or costly repairs, while other layers of information on yield, re-fuelling and delivery of seed or fertiliser can be integrated to help identify opportunities to grow efficiency, reduce costs or increase outputs.
How can I do more with digital ag on my property?
Are you a farmer who is keen to harness the Digital Ecosystem? Mr Blevin offers a few key tips to help you turn your on-farm data into a powerful decision-making tool.
1. Know what you want to achieve
Data collection can be overwhelming, so Mr Blevin urges farmers not to "collect data for data's sake."
"Instead, ask yourself: What do I want to get out of collecting this information? What do I need to put in place to get those results?" he said.
"Once you've identified your goals, take a structured approach to digital agriculture so it is possible to measure and strive for improvement."
2. Get the set up right
Just as you wouldn't take your machine into the field without it being set up correctly, it is worth investing time in properly setting up your Digital Ecosystem.
"It is important to take the time to set up your digital assets, so you are collecting the right information for your needs," Mr Blevin said.
"Setting up boundaries, guidance lines, chemicals, varieties, and any other key inputs in the Operations Center, before heading into the paddock, will save time and enable more accurate collection of data which in turn means it's usable and actionable."
3. Automate your data collection
Once data collection has been robustly set up, this process can be automated so that information is consistently gathered and is ready for analysis.
"With automation, you remove and simplify the touchpoints required to collect and transfer data from the machine to the Operations Center," Mr Blevin said.
"Your data is updated to the Cloud every 30 seconds, while you focus on the work in the paddock."
4. Understand your data
Now that you know what you want to achieve and have the right digital setup, which is automatically collected and synced to your account, the next step is understanding that data, using it to drive decisions and applying these on-farm to achieve efficiency and profitability gains.
"If you can identify that a field has 20% yield variability, you know that there's money to be made there, and you can focus on it," Mr Blevin said.
"Another way to extract even more value is to bring in a specialised skillset, such as your agronomist, farm advisor, or financial advisor, and allow them to access and analyse information such as crop records to make strategic recommendations.
"This can further support growers in taking full advantage of the decision-making opportunities of digital agriculture."
So what are you waiting for? Visit JohnDeere.com.au/GotWhatItTakes for more information about the John Deere Digital Ecosystem, including how-to videos and case studies where growers share how they are turning data into productivity.
About John Deere:
Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land - those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world's dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at JohnDeere.com in Australia at JohnDeere.com.au.