Seeing Through the Trees

Melissa Sandfort

John Deere recently announced enhancement to its guidance software offerings to bring more value and accuracy when using field equipment. Two new improvements include Long Range RTK, which expands the working distance of a vehicle from the base station, and Shading Optimization, which enhances AutoTrac performance in partially shaded conditions. The previous version of StarFire RTK had sub-inch accuracy but was limited to a six-mile radius from the base station. The new Long Range RTK software now maintains the accuracy but allows a 12-mile radius from the base station.

“We’ve also developed Shading Optimization software for our AutoTrac SF1 and SF2 systems,” explains Kayla Reynolds, product marketing manager, John Deere Ag Management Solutions (AMS). “Barriers such as trees, buildings or other structures are a problem for all guidance systems because they disrupt the satellite signal to the vehicle, especially during headland turns. Shading Optimization allows AutoTrac to stay enabled when moving through areas with trees and windbreaks.

“The AutoTrac guidance system usually needs a stable signal from the L1 and L2 bands. Previously, the system would shut down if one signal was missing because of shading. The new Shading Optimization continues to AutoTrac even if the StarFire iTC Receiver is receiving a signal from the L1 band only. This adds more consistency and accuracy to optimize the AutoTrac system. Signal disruption can still be a problem if both the L1 and L2 bands are lost,” says Reynolds. “But we’ve helped improve the overall system with the enhanced Shading Optimization software.”


Swath Control Pro For Planters Animation Video

Chuck Zimmerman

Swath Control AnimationIt’s one thing to hear about a new product enhancement but quite another to “see” it. That’s the case with John Deere’s Swath Control Pro for planters. This new precision ag product enhancement received lots of excitement at the recent new product introduction.

To see just how it works you can watch a great animation of it on the John Deere website. There’s also an option to download the video to your computer if you’d like.

Higher seed costs are a concern to all growers as they try to improve planter performance for optimal plant emergence and potential yields. New technology from John Deere now allows more efficient use of seed with the Swath Control Pro system for planters.

“We now have a system, integrated with the field-proven GreenStar™ 2 (GS2) Rate Controller, GS2 Display and StarFire iTC receiver, to turn sections of the planter on and off based on GPS coverage,” says Mike Park, marketing manager, John Deere Ag Management Solutions. “Growers will truly appreciate the ability to minimize double planting in headland areas.”

Swath Control Pro is compatible with the existing half- or third-width disconnects found on most John Deere planters. It is also compatible with aftermarket row unit controls. Such systems provide further precision by dividing the planter into smaller sections, which allows even more accuracy and less overplanting.

Equipment, Events, Video

Learning About New Rate Controller Updates

Chuck Zimmerman

John Deere Product Launch Field DayAt the recent John Deere product introduction new sprayers were on display for dealers to see in action. Also being shown was some of the new precision products that help growers more precisely apply products.

Take for example the new rate controller system.

Precision farming technology continues to grow as producers adopt innovative practices to bring more efficiency to their operations. The GreenStar™ 2 (GS2) Rate Controller was introduced last year to help growers automatically manage and control spray rates on pull-type sprayers. Now, GS2 will be expanded this winter for compatibility with certain NH3 and liquid fertilizer applications.

Three presenters showed the equipment to us including Iowa farm brothers Brent and Lee Madden and Adam Hart. You can watch a portion of their presentation here and learn more. They did fire up the equipment like the 4830 sprayer in the background.

Events, Video

New Precision Ag Products

Chuck Zimmerman

Kayla ReynoldsAt the John Deere product introduction Kayla Reynolds, John Deere Ag Management Solutions, gave a presentation to the media and a group of securities analysts. It was kind of a like a Precision 101 class since many of those attending have no background or experience with agriculture. The event provided them with some great information that will help them better cover the industry.

After her presentation I spoke to Kayla about the main points she wanted to get across to the group about the new things being offered by John Deere. She focused on 4 main topics related to precision ag. They are long range RTK, shading optimization, GS2 rate controller expansion and Swath Control Pro for planting. She explains each of them and what is new about them.

It appears that John Deere has made some significant strides in the area of precision ag. For example the new long range RTK allows a grower to operate their equipment with sub inch accuracy at up to 12 miles from the base station instead of the 6 miles previously possible.

You can listen to my interview with Kayla here: Listen to MP3 Kayla Reynolds Interview (4:00 min mp3)

Audio, Events

Hands-On Demos

Laura McNamara

Precision Ag Demo Farmers are getting a sneak peak trial of John Deere’s latest in desktop software, the beta version of the company’s Apex 2.0 program. The live demo is just one of four innovative products John Deere is displaying at its Ag Management Solutions booth. Consumers can also check out the company’s Autotrack Universal System Mobile Guidance Solution, GS2 Rate Controller, and its Starfire rTK technology.

AMS Regional Specialist Andrea Grube gave me a quick introduction to these products. You can listen to the interview here: Listen to MP3 Andrea Grube Interview (2:00 min mp3)

Audio, Displays, Software

Hands-Free Technology

Laura McNamara

Satellite Technology DemonstrationIt’s no magic trick. It’s a John Deere Precision Ag demonstration, showing just how much freedom satellite technology can offer a farmer in the field. Public Relations Manager Barry Nelson explained that operators need to program their routes just once and satellite operation will take care of the rest: distance, turns, no sweat. Barry also filled me in on the equipment and exhibits John Deere has on display at the 2007 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL.

You can listen to the interview here: Listen to MP3 Barry Nelson Interview (2:40 min mp3)

Audio, Displays, Events, Satellite

Precision Ag Updates From John Deere

Chuck Zimmerman

When it comes to sprayers John Deere is bringing a lot of new things to the market. At the product introduction I spoke with Brent Madden who not only works for John Deere but also farms with his family in Iowa. I asked him to put his farmer hat on first and tell us about some of the new sprayer options from John Deere as well as those related to precision ag. He points out how the GreenStar 2 (GS2) rate controller has been updated to handle applying anhydrous ammonia or certain liquid fertilizers.

Then when I asked him to put his farmer hat on he says the new Swath Control Pro for planters has him really excited. He says they’re looking forward to using it in the coming spring.

Events, Video

Precision Ag on Display at John Deere Product Launch

Chuck Zimmerman

Precision AgThere was plenty of precision ag on display at the John Deere product introduction and I’ll have posts here about that over the coming days. This display was part of one of the field demonstrations where dealers got to see what they can offer their customers this fall.

While I was at this field station I interviewed Mike Park, Factory Marketing Manager, Ag Management Solutions. Mike talks about John Deere’s precision ag products. He’s really excited about the new Swath Control Pro for planting that’s now going to save growers significantly on seed costs. He also says that APEX 2.0 software is now available. He says that although not every customer is ready to invest in some of these tools he highly recommends they talk about them with their local representative. When I asked him if a grower can stair step into the precision products he says they call it, “scalable accuracy,” meaning that there are different levels of investment that will all utilize similar components.

Equipment, Events

Dealers Welcomed to John Deere Product Launch

Chuck Zimmerman

Doug DeVriesThe Senior Vice President, Agricultural Marketing – North America, Australia & Asia, for John Deere is Doug DeVries. Doug came out on stage at the product launch in Cincinnati to thank the dealers who work directly with the customers.

In my interview with Doug he says this is the widest range of products they’ve ever brought to the market at once. He says it covers all areas and types of customers and is the culmination of a lot of R&D work. He comments on the growth in precision agriculture and says they see no change in the continued growth in this category of equipment.

You can listen to my interview with Doug here: Listen to MP3 Doug DeVries Interview (2:00 min mp3)

Audio, Dealers, Events

New 7330 Premium Cab Tractor With AMS and AutoTrac

Chuck Zimmerman

7330 TractorThe John Deere “Dedicated Leadership” product launch is in full swing and today the media, a number of securities analysts as well as dealers from around the country got to see the new products coming out from the company.

One of the first things my group got to do when we arrived at the John Deere product launch field site was drive a new 7330 premium cab tractor.

It was hot so the air conditioned cab was a welcome break. We had a John Deere representative in the cab with us just to keep us safe and of course we buckled up. The tractors were equipped with gps receivers and AMS and AutoTrac integrated.

Jen Clark was my co-pilot and she was very cooperative in allowing me to videotape my test drive.

I’ve recorded a number of interviews with other John Deere representatives here during the product launch which we’ll be featuring in the coming days.

Events, Video