There are over 7 billion people in the world and that number is expected to expand to over 9 billion by 2050. All of these people will need to eat which is placing pressures on the agricultural industry to improve crop yields. In addition, as the world economy improves, especially in countries like China and India, diets are improving and increasing “demand for meat, eggs, and dairy, boosting pressure to grow more corn and soybeans to feed more cattle, pigs, and chickens. If these trends continue, the double whammy of population growth and richer diets will require us to roughly double the amount of crops we grow by 2050.” The solution to this problem is farming smarter and increasing resource utilization. John Deere is helping farmers to do this via technology in their agricultural equipment.
Farming Industry in United States
In the United States 97% of farms are family owned and 88% of the farms are considered small. The main crops in the United States and their values are shown in the table below.
|Major Crops in the USA||1997
(in US$ billions)
(in US$ billions)
|Hay, (Other than Alfalfa)||$5.1||$8.4|
1997 USDA-NASS reports
2015 USDA-NASS reports
New Technology Options
Many farms have been passed down through generations and along with the land, knowledge and operating models have transferred as well. Farmers rely heavily on intuition and experience. In my experience, it can be extremely difficult to convince a farmer to try something new because the risks are just too great.
To increase crop yields John Deere is developing and integrating new technologies into their farming equipment, especially in combines. A combine is a machine that is used to harvest a crop.
Some examples of technology in new combines are:
- Collecting machine data
- John Deere FarmSight utilizes wireless communication via GPS receivers to compile data from machines and fields. This allows farm managers to have clear visibility to the harvest and allows access to remote support with dealers.
- Optimization of harvesting settings
- A combine has over 15,000 parts and a plethora of settings that affect yield and machine utilization. Deere developed an Interactive Combine Adjustment (ICA) which simplifies the process of selecting settings based on the harvest strategy. For example, you can choose to optimize based on grain quality or throughput.
- Syncing equipment in the field
- A combine is only one part of the harvesting process. The crop is harvested by the combine and transferred to a grain cart pulled by a tractor. If these machines are not in sync grain will end up as waste on the ground. Machine Sync connects these machines in the field to align the speeds and unloading time.
These, and many other technological innovations have been integrated into the latest combine models.
While the technological advancements that John Deere is providing in new combines is commendable, there are still further opportunities. The technology is only in new combines and most small to medium sized farms use equipment for a long time before purchasing new equipment. I think Deere should develop technology that can be retrofitted into older machines. It is also extremely difficult to convince farmers to try new technology. Deere can do a better job of educating farmers via trade shows and their dealer network.
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 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2016, 11 14). Un.org. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/2015-report.html
 National Geographic Magazine. (2016, 11 14). The Future of Food. Retrieved from www.nationalgeographic.com: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/feeding-9-billion/
 www.fooddialogues.com. (2016, 11 14). Retrieved from http://www.fooddialogues.com/foodsource/farm-size-and-ownership/what-is-the-average-size-of-an-american-farm
 “United States Crop Rankings – 1997 Production Year”. Retrieved 2014-04-01. (n.d.).
 “Crop Values – 2014 Summary” (PDF). Retrieved 2015-11-26. (n.d.).
 Machine Finder Blog. (2016, 11 14). UTILIZING 2014 S-SERIES COMBINE TECHNOLOGY FOR INTELLIGENT HARVESTING. http://blog.machinefinder.com/18947/utilizing-2014-s-series-combine-technology-intelligent-harvesting.