Precision FarmingDigi­tally ahead of the game

Digi­ti­sa­tion creates new oppor­tu­ni­ties for farmer and contractor Rainer Eich­horn, supporting his work in the fields. Since last summer, he has been using the John Deere Oper­a­tions Centre, organ­ising field­work across 1,100ha of land better than ever before.

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.

Rainer Eich­horn, Farmer and Contractor

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.”

In addi­tion to his own farm with 200ha rotating grain, rape­seed, maize and legumes, Mr Eich­horn combines 900ha of neigh­boring.

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.

Rainer Eich­horn

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.”

This combine can be accessed remotely via the display through the app as well as the desktop version. The advan­tage: Drivers can be supported easily when setting up the machine.

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.