Farmer Rainer Eichorn discovered a new way of working last June, after attending a training on how to use the John Deere Operations Centre software. “I’m genuinely annoyed that I didn’t know earlier about the benefits digitisation would offer me,” he told the John Deere representative that day.
As well as farming, Mr Eichhorn spends 60% of his work time as a contractor. With his two combines, a S780 and T670, he harvests 1,100ha per year. In addition to his own 200ha farm with a rotation of cereals, rapeseed, maize and legumes Mr Eichhorn takes over the harvest of neighbouring farms. In the autumn, he drills 700ha of cereals and rapeseed.
The fields, close to Frankfurt Main, are very different in nature. Just how different, is something he has been taking a close look at recently. At peak times, he calls in up to four colleagues to lend a hand. They usually sit on different machines and must work together as a team.
A balancing act between desk and field
“I’m constantly managing a balancing act between working in the field and working at my desk,” says Mr Eichhorn about his everyday challenges. “We farmers and contractors handle a lot of paperwork because we have to document our work quite accurately. Nothing should be left lying around. But my actual work takes place on the machine.”
In 2018, Mr Eichhorn decided to optimise his operation and purchased a John Deere combine. Because he harvested a larger area faster and more cleanly using the S780 with its nine-metre PremiumFlow cutting platform, he also won new customers – after all, word gets around about good work. “The quality of work is reflected in the result – whether in your own fields or in contract harvesting. If we delivered poor results, the demand would not be as great. But we do our work well.”
Digital capabilities as a reason to buy
Two years later, in 2020, a T670 combine was added, also with a nine-metre PremiumFlow cutting platform. And, like the first combine, it came with smart equipment. “I had heard the term smart farming before but hadn’t seriously looked into it,” says Mr Eichhorn. “When I bought it, I looked at the hardware performance, the threshing performance and what the machine could do with its power and speed. “But with new digital technology, we can use the same machine differently and produce good results even more reliably. In the future, digital capabilities will definitely influence my purchasing decisions. That’s where I want to be, ahead of the game.”
His latest purchase is a new drill with GPS tramline control. The drill automatically recognises which field it is on and how the tramlines need to be arranged. There is a constant exchange of data between the drill and the tractor.
With digital technology, we are achieving good results even more reliably.
Mr Eichhorn also wants to do some testing with the yield maps he recorded during the summer. For example, he wants to try different sowing rates to see what he can save on seed. Or; based on the biomass maps, fertilise on a site-specific basis next year. “I am now focusing on these future projects, because there are still a lot of opportunities I can exploit.” In just two months he documented his entire harvested area. Mr Eichhorn describes this work as “simple”: “We’re not geniuses, so it has to be simple.”
A click for a quick overview
The cereal harvest has been a major challenge in recent years due to the weather, especially in the Rhine-Main region. Although Mr Eichhorn knows the combining area and its difficult spots well, there were always unpleasant surprises.
“Now it’s not just the combine’s hardware, but the Operations Centre and its organisational capabilities which enable us to do our work really well. “I used to carry everything around on paper to see where we were and where we still had things to do. Now I have that in front of me with one click on a tablet or smartphone with the Operations Centre.”
And teamwork runs more smoothly too. Mr Eichhorn and his colleague Jens Bermbach can now exchange information with each other much more easily. “We can see where the other person is, what he’s combining, and how the machine is set up. This way, we can help each other really well and quickly,” says Mr Eichhorn.
The track, the field yield, the setting parameters of the machine – all this can be documented and analysed by the Operations Centre. And it can be shared with colleagues in the system. Mr Eichhorn feels that the additional telephone calls at work, as used to be the case, were a stress factor.
Using full potential
He is now thinking about how he can work even smarter and more digitally with John Deere next year. In the process, fields will be planned out with their boundaries and sown crops. When it comes to crop protection, the system can also document how varieties behave depending on how they are treated before harvest. This information provides a valuable basis for planning growing seasons. The possibilities are many, but Mr Eichhorn knows one thing for sure: He wants to use the full digital potential of his machine.
The Operations Centre
For farmers and contractors who want to manage farm and machine data with a single software portal, the Operations Centre is an excellent solution.
- An overview of all information in real time
- Direct access from anywhere with the app
- Manage, monitor and analyse
- Evaluating agronomic data
- Open for data from other manufacturers
- No cost
Your local dealer has trained John Deere Operations Centre specialists who can help you get the best from this powerful tool and spend time setting it up to suit your specific needs.