High Value Showcase unveils the John Deere 5ML tractor for orchards and vineyards along with GUSS semi-autonomous sprayer
John Deere has answered the call from high value crop (HVC) growers seeking more technology from efficiency gains, by staging the first field day to unveil the 5ML tractor ideal for orchards and vineyards.
Also, part of the purpose-built for orchards and vineyards showcase was the Global Unmanned Spray System (GUSS).
The venue for dozens of current and budding John Deere customers and dealers was SuniTAFE’s Smart Farm in Mildura Victoria. And as part of the HVC Showcase they were able to operate and drive the first demonstrator 5ML tractor and speak to John Deere and GUSS representatives.
John Deere Production Systems Manager, Stephanie Gersekowski, said it was an opportunity to demonstrate the productivity-enhancing 5ML tractor and reinforce the company’s commitment to high value cropping.
“We understand customers in this sector have really been calling for additional technology and productivity gains to support their operations and the 5ML is the perfect example of how we’re working to do that,” Stephanie Gersekowski added.
“We’ve been able to integrate a lot of technology that traditionally hasn’t been available in our smaller frame tractors, such as integrated AutoTrac™ within the dash display.”
The 5ML also brings additional power to John Deere’s orchard tractor range with 78, 88 and 96kW (105, 120 and 130hp) engine models available.
With the ability to set two front-axle configurations for working widths from 155cm (61-inches) and up to 180cm (71-inches) , the 5ML carries premium features at a size suited to narrow applications.
The 5ML comes equipped with programmable LED lighting, a front hitch to ensure operators can use heavier implements such as almond harvesters, and a front pto for added versatility.
There is also the choice of an easy-to-use PowrQuad™ PLUS or Powr8™ transmission.
While a Limb Lifter kit can also be added to gently move away low hanging branches, reducing the potential for damage to the tree and tractor.
Production of the 5ML tractor begins in November 2023 with units available for delivery here by Spring 2024.
“I would strongly encourage people interested in the 5ML to contact their local dealer as the first units are arriving soon for demonstration,” Stephanie Gersekowski concluded.
GUSS sprayer on show
The HVC Showcase at SuniTAFE’s Smart Farm in Mildura Victoria also provided the ideal location for the first look at the automated GUSS sprayer operating under local conditions.
GUSS Automation Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Gary Thompson, was on hand to lead the demonstration and explained how the driverless spraying solution was borne out of a shortage of labour in the company’s home US state of California.
“At GUSS, come from an agricultural background,” Gary Thompson continued.
“Our CEO started a commercial spraying business in 1982 with two tractors and grew it to become the largest commercial application company in California, and we will spray over 2,000 hectares every single day in our peak season.
“He’s brought in a lot of innovations over the years such as some of the industry’s first three and four-row vineyard sprayers but eventually finding tractor operators became his number one challenge. So, he decided to do something about it.”
GUSS units use a sophisticated combination of GPS and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology, vehicle sensors, and software to move and navigate through high value crops.
In April 2022, John Deere announced a joint venture with GUSS to accelerate the development and distribution of the technology and meet the needs of orchard and vineyard production.
“The whole concept was we wanted one employee to be able to supervise an entire fleet of GUSS machines,” Gary Thompson added.
“As of today, we have about 240 of these autonomous sprayers out in the world and run more autonomous farmland than any other company.”
Gary Thompson said the partnership with John Deere would allow GUSS Automation to continue to evolve and innovate and saw great potential in John Deere’s acquisition of precision spraying company Smart Apply Inc.
“We’re looking are what kind of technologies we can add to our base machine and one of them we’re excited about is Smart Apply,” Gary Thompson continued.
“It’s a product that uses LiDAR sensors to see the canopy of the tree or the vine and engage individual nozzles to spray where it sees foliage and turn off where it doesn’t see foliage.
“It saves a huge amount of chemical which is great for the grower and good for the environment,” Gary Thompson concluded
HVC just getting started
Stephanie Gersekowski said the first HVC Showcase was just the beginning for John Deere and its determination to help growers with equipment tailored to HVC production.
“In terms of future development within the HVC portfolio, and our commitment to our high value customers, I can share that we will be continuing to bring solutions to market at a much more rapid pace,” Stephanie Gersekowski added.
“The 5ML is just the beginning and we’re excited to bring further products and technology solutions to the HVC segment over the next several years.”
New Zealand grower and Woodhaven Gardens Director, Jay Clarke, was a guest speaker at the event and underscored the importance of efficiency gains in the pursuit of greater sustainability.
“Precision agriculture is one of the biggest tools in becoming more sustainable in food production systems,” Jay Clarke added.
“Being able to put the right product in the right place at the right time is essential to lowering our input use and still being able to produce an abundance of healthy food with a lower environmental impact.
“Without the equipment that John Deere supplies we are not able to do that,” Jay Clarke concluded.
Contact your local John Deere dealer for more information on the availability of the expanded John Deere horticultural range and GUSS on this link: