Driverless, automated farming equipment is nothing new for the agricultural giant John Deere, but recently they have been focusing their efforts and resources on mastering the technology to better improve efficiency. It is said that the Internet of Things (a concept of connecting any device to each other and/or the internet) can help improve food production by up to 70% (Forbes). Farmers are looking to apply this concept to their tractors and other farming equipment to help maximize their output.
I agree with this articles claim that the future of farming is one of precision farming. I was unaware of the technicalities of farming and how much room there is to improve efficiency. John Deere uses the satellite receiver, StarFire 3000, which uses signals from 56 different satellites. This allows for the GPS to know the tractors position with an error margin of 2.5cm at the highest setting. This becomes extremely important when a tractor is pulling an implement that could be up to 20 meters long through a field and attempting not to overlap its tracks. Now that GPS’ can determine the tractors location down to 2.5cm, the chances of overlapping are slim and efficiency is increased. Farmers can also allow for multiple tractors to be working in the field simultaneously now, reaching optimal output during the given hours of the day. But not only are the tractors able to communicate with each other, but the land will be able to too. Sensors implanted into the land can measure exactly how much certain elements like potassium, nitrogen, and phosphate are taken off the land. This allows farmers to be able to accurately replenish their land, thus farming more sustainably and prolonging the future of farming.
One thing I think that this article overlooked is the effect that this automation will have on the economy of the United States. As of January 2015, approximately 983,000 people were employed by farms, but January 2016 those numbers had dropped to 906,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). With the Internet of Things already present in farming and its popularity slowly increasing, I think that these numbers accurately reflect what will happen when this concept takes a hold of farming. Sure, food production and farming efficiency will increase, but its effect on the labor rates of the United States is unknown. Also, the article acknowledges the safety implications of this technology. As of now, there are no precautions in place for these automated vehicles to stop, and the chances of a cow accidentally wandering through the path of a tractor are relatively great.
Overall, I do support the article and its claims for the potential optimized efficiency of farming through the Internet of Things, but there are certainly a handful of other factors that need to be further investigated before this technology can seize the industry.
Scroxton, Alex. "How John Deere Uses Connectivity to Make Farms More Efficient." Computer Weekly. TechTarget, Feb. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
Morgan, Jacob. "A Simple Explanation of "The Internet of Things"" Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 13 May 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.
The Employment Situation- January 2016 (2016): n. pag. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Government, 5 Feb. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.