Responsibility for the future direction of John Deere planting and spraying product lines has led to Paul Richardel making a special information tour here
Meeting challenges surrounding labour shortages and water conservation are two of the priority issues John Deere’s Paul Richardel will take back to headquarters in the United States following a two-week tour of Australian farms and industry events.
As Marketing Lead for Planting and Spraying products, encompassing Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada, Paul Richardel said understanding unique local needs and operating challenges was foundational to the development of John Deere products and solutions.
“The Australian market is very important to John Deere. The volatile growing conditions and lack of skilled labour drives Australian farmers to be more productive and efficient than most other parts of the world,” Paul Richardel, who is based in Moline Illinois in the US added.
“I came here to understand, first-hand, what’s important to growers in Australia so I can ensure we develop products that are going to meet the needs of local farmers.”
The big issues
As part of the tour, Paul Richardel visited 15 John Deere customers with dryland and irrigated operations throughout Queensland and New South Wales and spent time at AgQuip Field days in Gunnedah NSW, considered one of the world’s largest agriculture events.
“We visited a number of growers on their farms and also at AgQuip Field Days. We discussed a wide range of topics from their machine configurations to agronomy,” Paul explained.
“However, while the conversations started around equipment they almost always, at some point, shifted over to the big issues that are most important to local growers – and that’s water conservation and labour.
“These are the two big things growers told us are most critical to driving many of the decisions they are making on their farms.”
Paul Richardel said labour was also an enormous challenge US growers were navigating, while a laser-like focus on water conservation was more unique to Australia.
“Labour globally tends to be the thing that comes up the most – finding people who are willing to do the hours and the work,” Paul continued.
“However, I would say managing moisture is more important in Australia than it is in the US, because of the El Nino and La Nino rain cycles, and the weather plays a much bigger role in the trends that are going on here.
“For example, controlled traffic is a trend that is picking up in the United States but is not nearly as prevalent as in Australia – and the reason it is so important here is simply because of water management.
“Australian growers are using innovative ways to produce more product per millimetre of water than any other region I have travelled.”
Automation to complement
As a nearly 20-year veteran of John Deere Paul Richardel, who grew up in Louisiana and has worked across the United States, has been involved in some of the most fascinating and innovative projects undertaken by the business, including the development of the powerhouse X-Series Combine Harvester that has been a game changer for local growers.
At AgQuip, he was able to speak with growers about the newly released 1725C Stack-Fold Planter for cotton, with electric drive meters, to offer more precise control of seed population and singulation and the ability to collect a powerful range of agronomic data, to inform decision-making.
“The 1725C Planter enables growers to plant a wide variety of crops including cotton, sorghum and mung beans with precision.
“The operator can manage row cleaners, downforce, and closing pressure all from the cab and collect data on seed population, singulation and downforce to review during and after planting.
The precise seed placement gives the seed the best opportunity of uniform emergence in Australia’s harsh climate and the data empowers you to make the best decisions possible now and in the future. It really is a remarkable planter,” Paul added.
Paul Richardel said automation innovation, such as John Deere See & Spray™ Select, that delivers targeted spraying to weeds to reduce herbicide use by an average 77%, was also a product that had been spoken about extensively throughout the duration of his visit.
“In Australia, customers don’t want weeds during the fallow season because they consume additional water, and they want to be able to kill those weeds without applying blankets of herbicide across their entire paddocks,” Paul explained.
“See & Spray is hugely valuable for growers as it delivers enormous cost savings while keeping the weeds down. We came here to talk about technology like this and to understand how John Deere can work with local growers to continue to develop solutions for the future.” Paul concluded.
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