Be honest, how long has the basic version of Farming Simulator 22 been on your PC?
Markus: Since day one, of course! The anticipation for the latest version of the simulator was huge, so we in the John Deere gaming team pre-ordered Farming Simulator to get it as soon as it came out.
Ben: It was released at midnight, so we even took the next day off to really get into the simulator – just like in the old days, when we had much more time for these things.
What was your first impression of the game?
Ben: We were really happy to see that Farming Simulator is even more realistic now. Now entire production chains are shown and I can do much more than just feed my animals and run a biogas plant. For example, I can now make sure that my sugar beet is turned into sugar. Or, for grain, I can track the production chain in much greater detail.
Markus: These innovations in the game mechanics are a real win. You also notice that the developer GIANTS Software has tweaked a lot of small things when it comes to graphics and sound, so the overall impression is even more realistic: Bales look even more like bales and machine and nature sounds seem a lot more realistic. There are also other new features like the change of seasons, which players of previous versions will know from mods.
As members of the JD gaming team, over the past few weeks you have also been able to test the Precision Farming expansion, which John Deere is helping to develop. What’s new there?
Markus: The new Precision Farming upgrade builds on the last one, available for Farming Simulator 19. So it contains all the features from the older version which have since been further improved. This includes different soil types, yield maps, profitability calculations, and the ability to work accordingly by sub-area.
With the help of a prepared seed rate map ...
... site-specific seeding is possible.
Ben: New additions include more options to manage land in a more sustainable and data-driven way. To start with, we have site-specific weed control with spot spraying and then real-time analysis of liquid manure during application, as well as the possibility of better dosing mineral fertilisers. There is also a new environmental rating system which shows players how the way they farm affects the environment.
How does Precision Farming DLC change the gaming experience?
Ben: For me, the DLC takes the gameplay to a whole new level. This is mainly due to the new features which make the game even more realistic. And if you’re playing together as a team like we are, the environmental rating system adds another nice competitive element to the game: You start to wonder why the other person has a better score, and then, most importantly, how you can also improve.
Markus: Exactly. I’ve already had a few ‘aha’ moments just like that. Compared to the other testers, I found that I was much worse at efficiently spreading liquid manure without an NIR sensor. This is then visualised on an easy-to-read map. Another time, I felt that mechanical weed control with a large hoe was surely the most sustainable way of working. Then, when I didn’t get the full environmental score by doing that, I looked to see why that might be. The explanation: With the mechanical hoe, I drove across the field significantly more often, interfering with the soil more than I would with spot spraying. This causes more erosion. The simulator makes correlations like these really clear.
With the NIR sensor, plant nutrients in liquid manure can be used more efficiently in the Precision Farming DLC Farming Simulator.
The new Precision Farming Free DLC enables site-specific weed control through spot spraying.
Precision Farming DLC makes the simulation even more realistic. How important is that to you?
Markus: It’s great when the simulator gets more and more realistic, but too much realism can also be off-putting. For example, there used to be mods for ground conditions. But you couldn’t play with it without studying the hefty manual. That’s the beauty of the Precision Farming upgrade: There are lots of tips but you can also switch to auto mode if you want to get started more easily – so realism that’s fun, really.
Ben: I agree. I would always say “the more realistic the better”. But if it then gets too complicated to use, the fun is over quickly. That’s exactly what the new Precision Farming mod won’t do and that’s what makes it so good.
Precision Farming Upgrade for Farming Simulator 22
The Precision Farming extension is available for free from April 19 2022. You can download it directly to a PC or a games console. With more than one million downloads, the first version of Precision Farming Free DLC for Farming Simulator 19 was a great success. With the next generation, GIANTS Software not only offers the general public the opportunity to expand their knowledge of modern agriculture, but also brings sustainability to forefront in the popular video game.
Precision Farming Free DLC has been jointly developed by John Deere and GIANTS Software, the developer of the most successful farming simulation series. This was achieved in co-operation with the University of Hohenheim, University of Reading, the Polish Academy of Sciences and Spanish agri-food co-operative Grupo AN. The development was largely financed by EIT Food, the world’s largest food innovation network, which is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The goal of EIT Food is to improve knowledge of modern agriculture in society.