As the ag industry trends toward broader integration of equipment automation and machine learning, companies are looking for skilled talent to lead the evolution.

While traditional avenues for recruiting and retention of tech-savvy talent still produce quality hires, a broader search can attract and develop an alternative pipeline of talent.

This was one of the initiatives John Deere had in making its first appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show, held last month in Las Vegas. The annual show features a wide variety of cutting edge technologies in about two dozen different product categories and attracts upwards of 180,000 attendees from around the world.

According to Joel Dawson, John Deere’s production and precision ag director the CES show provided a unique opportunity for non-traditional networking.

The interesting thing at the CES show though was that some of the people that we talked to who had maybe went off to a great school and got a great education, and thought maybe they needed to be in San Francisco or Denver or Austin or Israel, or some of these places that are technology hubs, they wouldn't mind coming back home. So those are the people that ... that's just kind of a golden nugget for us because they understand the rural lifestyle. They understand agriculture. Maybe they weren't involved with agriculture, but they've got family in those rural areas. We'll take those talents all day long in our dealer organizations.”

Dawson adds that the company also leveraged their presence at the show to be agricultural ambassadors, answering industry questions from students, start-ups and researchers.