During the past week, I had the opportunity to attend John Deere’s latest product launch event at its Harvester Works facility in Moline, Ill. The manufacturer introduced several new pieces of farm machinery and technology, with an overarching theme of integrated functionality.
Clearly, the ag industry is continuing to move in the direction of streamlined simplicity in equipment — creating a comprehensive architecture that includes everything an operator wants to control with the touch of a button.
But there is complexity in simplicity. Farmers tend to differ in their precision priorities — from wanting to utilize section control on a sprayer to monitoring seeding population rates on their planter. And customizing features for farmers is often a source of pride and a measurement of performance for precision specialists.
Providing access to the latest and greatest technology is expected, even if customers aren’t even sure if they want it. But talking with a Deere representative during the event, it was interesting to learn about the global differences in technology interest and availability.
Having worked in the company’s Integrated Solutions department, she shared a story about traveling to South America for an industry event and getting bombarded with questions from local farmers about Deere’s remote display access platform.
“Farmers were walking around with iPads, watching YouTube dealer demo videos from North America of the platform asking when they could get it,” the Deere representative said. “Their biggest need was wanting to track equipment in the field because often their farms are so large they stretch across country borders and also theft is a larger problem there than it is here.”
Improving global access is an ongoing objective of manufacturers. And talking with farmers and dealers from different parts of the world, they’ve noted the economic and developmental challenges of keeping up with the pace of precision innovation. Playing a constant game of catch-up only slows the growth of global ag production.