Ohio farmer mark Bryant raises corn, soybeans, and soft red winner wheat on 12,000 acres. But you
will hardly ever see him on a tractor because that isn’t how farms work anymore. Bryant spends most
of his time monitoring dashboards full of data gathered from the 20 or so iPhones and five iPads he
has supplied to employees who report on his acreage in real time. Using software from a Googlefunded start up called granular, Bryant analyses the data along with data gathered from aircraft, selfdriving tractors, and other forms of automated and remote sensors for yield, moisture, and soil
Tractors themselves have been morphed into pieces of intelligent equipment and are now much
smarter. Many tractors and combines today are guided by Global positioning System (GPS) satellitebased navigation systems. The GPS computer receives signals from earth-orbiting satellites to track
each piece of equipment’s location and where it has gone. The system helps steer the equipment, so
farmers are able to monitor progress on iPads and other tablet computers in their tractor cabs.
The world’s largest producer of autonomous four wheeled vehicles isn’t Tesla or Google, its john
Deere. The cab of one of Deere’s self-driving tractors is now so full of screens and tablets that it looks
like cockpit of a jet airplane. John Deere and its competitors aren’t just turning out tractors, combines,
and turning out wirelessly connected sensors that map every field as well as planting and spraying
machines that can use computerised instructions to apply seed and nutrients to a field.
Deere & Co. has embedded information technology in all of its farming equipment, creating an
ecosystem for controlling sprayers, balers, and planters. Deere products include AutoTrac GPScontrolled assisted- steering systems, which allow equipment operators to take their hands off the
wheel; JDLink, which enables machinery to automatically upload data about fields to a remote
computer centre and farmers to download planting or fertilising instructions; and John Deere machine
Sync, which uses GPS data to create maps based on aerial or satellite photos to improve planting,
seedling, spraying, and nutrient application.
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