How John Deere plans to increase farm productivity

John Deere using machine learning to reduce herbicide use

Machinery
John Deere Australia and New Zealand managing director Luke Chandler spoke at the Rural Press Club of Queensland last week.

John Deere Australia and New Zealand managing director Luke Chandler spoke at the Rural Press Club of Queensland last week.

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Machine learning technology is set to reduce herbicide use by up to 80 per cent, according to John Deere's Australia and New Zealand managing director Luke Chandler.

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Machine learning technology is set to reduce herbicide use by up to 80 per cent, according to John Deere's Australia and New Zealand managing director Luke Chandler.

Mr Chandler said this would be achieved by moving from a whole-of-field approach to a plant-by-plant management strategy.

He said global agriculture was at an inflection point and technological developments would help drive productivity.

Farmers across the world have been chasing economies of scale and the company's focus had been on building bigger, faster and stronger machinery to meet that growth, he said.

"That's still important but as we shift towards this next frontier of agriculture, we really see machinery being driven by automation, easier to use, more precise types of technologies."

In 2017 John Deere acquired Silicon Valley company Blue River Technology for $US305 million.

By using Blue River's deep learning algorithms and artificial intelligence programming and embedding it on the "hard iron of John Deere machines", the company hopes to take agriculture's productivity to the next level.

Mr Chandler spoke about the company's focus on innovation and how it can help farmers grow the food and fibre sector at the Rural Press Club of Queensland.

"While you might hear a lot about ag tech being a new industry, it's not new for us and it's not new for us in Australia," he said.

Mr Chandler pointed to the role of cotton and grains farmers in northern NSW in helping to develop GPS and yield mapping technology, which has become a major part of precision agriculture, and is used around the world.

John Deere has grown from its humble beginnings in Illinois 184 years ago, into one of the world's largest agricultural machinery manufacturers.

Together with dealerships, the company employs 4500 people across Australia and New Zealand.

It is also looking at employing 1200 tech apprentices, predominately in rural and regional communities.

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