John Deere MD says local farming is on the cusp of a technology driven new frontier

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John Deere Australia and New Zealand Managing Director, Luke Chandler shares his firm belief agriculture will expand through technology
John Deere MD Luke Chandler
John Deere Managing Director Luke Chandler with Rural Press Club of Queensland President Stacey Wordsworth and McCullough Robertson Special Counsel Trent Thorne

“Historically, as an agriculture equipment manufacturer, our focus has been on building bigger, faster, and stronger machinery as farmers were chasing scale to increase productivity,” Mr Chandler said.

“While it will remain incredibly important, this next frontier of agriculture will see further demand for automation, ease of use, more precision, and artificial intelligence.”

Mr Chandler returned home to Australia from the United States to take up his position as Managing Director in November 2020 after serving as John Deere’s Chief Economist at its headquarters in Moline, Illinois, for five years.

He said the step change now underway in farming will extend producers’ ability from making decisions informed by field-based data to using intelligence collected at a micro level.

“Australian farmers and the Australian agriculture industry are quite often ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation adoption,” he said.

“In fact, a lot of the GPS technology and yield mapping that was developed in cotton and grains enterprises in New South Wales is now used around the world, and that has really been foundational in what we now call precision agriculture.

“As we move forward into this next wave of technology, farmers will have the ability to manage on a row-by-row, and then plant-by-plant basis, to improve productivity and farming practices.

“It’s going to be a journey from autonomy to full automation and this technology and machinery will require an infrastructure and digital ecosystem to support it.

We are well on the way to developing enough capacity for this kind of equipment to be operational, and it’s the next exciting step for us.”

Mr Chandler said an example was the embedding of advanced spray technology, developed by the John Deere-acquired Blue River Technology, in the hard iron of John Deere machinery to reduce herbicide spraying by up to 80%.

“It leaves farmers with more money in their pockets, as they are spending less on inputs, and also means the environmental footprint of agriculture globally can be significantly reduced as less herbicides are being put out in the paddock,” he said.

Recognising the important role strong partnerships with farmers, universities, research centres, businesses and industry groups are to the uptake of technology, Mr Chandler said he will work to ensure John Deere continues to be a genuine and collaborative partner with industry.