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From sky to soil, the food and agriculture sector has embraced Industry 4.0. 

Agriculture companies have incorporated machine learning (ML), automation, and drones into their day-to-day operations to help farmers save money, labor, and time. Soon, satellites will join the list. 

Over the last few years, John Deere debuted self-driving tractors, weed-identifying sprayers, and crop-spraying drones. And now, it’s all set to enter the satellite business by seeking a partner to create geospatial maps to analyze the growth and development of plant crops and boost connectivity to rural and remote farmers.

Why Satellites?

The agriculture giant has invested heavily in connected agriculture tech and boasts that “tens of thousands” of its farm machines are connected to cellular wireless networks, enabling farmers to track and control machines in crops without being physically there.

As farm machines and equipment become smarter — layered with sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) — connectivity will gain traction and become more critical for growing operations. For example, a 2020 study by McKinsey found that only 25% of farms in the United States had some connected devices or equipment in their day-to-day operations.

However, because cellular networks don’t work well in territories with low population densities, John Deere plans to explore satellite connectivity instead. The company aims to connect over 1.5 million of its smart machines and equipment by 2026 through SATCOM technology.

How Will John Deere’s Geospatial Maps Help Farmers?

The use of satellite technology in the agriculture and food industry has grown recently, and John Deere plans to stay ahead of the curve by forming a partnership with a satellite provider.

This type of partnership will allow John Deere to provide farmers with a more comprehensive suite of services and technologies where autonomous or traditional tractors can seamlessly communicate with satellites, beaming real-time communication and information.

For instance, driverless tractors benefit tremendously from real-time communications using the “John Deere Operations Center,” as farmers utilize the associated app to start and shut down the machine, track the task it’s performing, and identify what it must do when it faces an obstacle. This real-time data can help farmers boost productivity and lead to a substantial increase in total agricultural production.

Overall, the partnership between John Deere and a satellite company has the potential to revolutionize the agriculture industry and help farmers grow their crops more efficiently and sustainably.

Image Credit: smereka / Shutterstock.com

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