Precision FarmingSustain­ability and prof­itability working together

Sustain­able busi­ness prac­tices are often asso­ci­ated with higher costs. But a tool for opti­mising crop cultivation avail­able through the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center shows that it can also save farmers money.

Saving costs and oper­ating sustain­ably. Combining these two goals can become a real chal­lenge for agri­cul­tural busi­nesses. Never­the­less, there are certain tasks and appli­ca­tions where the two can be success­fully combined – equally bene­fiting both the farm income and the envi­ron­ment. As we all know, sustain­ability has not only an ecolog­ical dimen­sion, but also an economic one. In many cases, finding the right balance between ecology and economy can ensure that busi­ness needs as well as envi­ron­mental require­ments are met. For farmers, finan­cial stability is crucial to ensure the future of their busi­ness. At the same time, they need to make every effort to preserve

Key tech­nology: Preci­sion farming

A key tech­nology for sustain­able oper­a­tion is preci­sion farming. The core feature of preci­sion farming is a targeted, small-scale, and site-specific cultivation and manage­ment of the crops by taking differ­ences in the soil and yield capacity within a field into account. Cultivation and the use of inputs like seed, fertil­izer and chem­i­cals is precisely adjust to the site-specific condi­tions. Opti­mising the use of inputs means higher gross margins for the farmer and lower discharges to the envi­ron­ment.      

The imple­men­ta­tion of preci­sion agri­cul­ture requires sophis­ti­cated infor­ma­tion and commu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies as well as modern machinery for site-specific seeding, fertil­i­sa­tion, and crop protec­tion. An impor­tant prereq­ui­site for most site-specific farming appli­ca­tions is to know exactly where you are in the field. The second one is Section Control, which during spraying, fertil­izing, and seeding auto­mat­i­cally turns on and off indi­vidual boom sections, nozzles or seeding units. The third one is having a tool, that can manage data and machines. John Deere started working on prac­tical solu­tions more than 20 years ago.

xarvio® Digtal Farming Solu­tions easily connects to the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center.


Machine steering and data analyis support through the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center

The smart machines generate control signals for the indi­vidual appli­ca­tion rates using prescrip­tion maps provided by the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center. The cloud-based system provides various func­tions to help farmers set up, plan, review and analyse their data so they can make informed deci­sions. For example, they can upload satel­lite images, drone footage and yield maps to the plat­form to create prescrip­tion maps based on this infor­ma­tion.

One strength of the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center is its open­ness. Addi­tional soft­ware solu­tions from third-party providers can be connected connected to the plat­form. xarvio® Digital Farming Solu­tions from BASF is one of them. Through such collab­o­ra­tions John Deere combines its exper­tise in connecting and precisely oper­ating machines with the agro­nomic knowl­edge from xarvio®. Its digital agro­nomic knowl­edge and deci­sion support help farmers opti­mize and auto­mate crop produc­tion while promoting more sustain­able agri­cul­ture by reducing envi­ron­mental impact.

Agro­nomic advice

With xarvio® FIELD MANAGER farmers can create field-specific prescrip­tion maps with vari­able rates for seeds, fertil­izer, crop protec­tion chem­i­cals and growth regu­la­tors. The prescrip­tion maps are based on satel­lite imaging of biomass and histor­ical data from 25 years of agro­nomic model­ling. In addi­tion, xarvio® FIELD MANAGER can provide agro­nomic advice on chem­i­cals to use and when is the best time for their appli­ca­tion. Currently it can be used for eight different crops: Winter and spring barley, winter wheat, winter rye, winter rape­seed, pota­toes, sugar beets and corn. The compat­i­bility with the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center and John Deere display signif­i­cantly simpli­fies the precise use of inputs.

Caspar von Hammer­stein

From seeding to harvest – xarvio FIELD MANAGER provides agrononic advice to farmers who want to opti­mise their field work.

Caspar von Hammer­stein, product manager at BASF

Caspar von Hammer­stein is the Global Product Manager for the xarvio® FIELD MANAGER. He presents the digital tool: “With the intu­itive system, the farmer can signif­i­cantly improve and opti­mize his arable farming. It supports him throughout the whole season, from seeding to harvesting. The FIELD MANAGER provides the farmer with seeding maps, recom­men­da­tions on when to fertilize, and strategy sugges­tions for fungi­cide appli­ca­tions, among other things. Using the risk status displayed and the weather data from the FIELD MANAGER, farmers can then make their deci­sion.”

Rapid amor­ti­za­tion   

While xarvio® FIELD MANAGER provides a lot of agro­nomic deci­sion support and data which can be easily trans­ferred to the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center, the Oper­a­tions Center is still required to control machines like drills, sprayers, or fertiliser spreaders. The John Deere Oper­a­tions Center can be used free of charge, while the license for the xarvio® Pro variant costs 200 euros per company and year. The Premium version with advanced func­tions comes at a cost of 500 euros per year. Already from the recom­men­da­tions that the xarvio® FIELD MANAGER offers, farmers can expect increased yields and cost savings. According to the product manager, this invest­ment quickly pays off: “Even if the farmer doesn’t have preci­sion farming machinery, the deci­sion support features alone can already increase gross margin by 31 euros per hectare. With the vari­able rate appli­ca­tion, they can enjoy an addi­tional 27 euros.”

Caspar von Hammer­stein high­lights the fact that the xarvio® FIELD MANAGER promotes sustain­ability in several ways: “Vari­able rate appli­ca­tion and the right appli­ca­tion require fewer crop protec­tion chem­i­cals bringing us closer to the more general goal of a signif­i­cant reduc­tion of these inputs. The economic aspect of sustain­ability is also addressed. The farmer saves money but doesn’t suffer from a reduced yield.”   

Good expe­ri­ences since 2015

Rémi Minart runs a 700ha arable farm in the Oise depart­ment in northern France. He culti­vates 300 hectares of wheat, as well as sugar beets and pota­toes on a larger scale. The farmer has been working with xarvio® since 2015. He uses the system primarily to opti­mize the schedule for growth regu­la­tors and to apply fungi­cides as needed based on disease fore­casts. For both tasks, biomass maps provide him with addi­tional guid­ance. The R41 series with 50i self-propelled sprayer from John Deere ensures that the fungi­cides and growth regu­la­tors are applied to the specific field zones. The intel­li­gent Exac­tApply spray nozzle control system ensures precise appli­ca­tion of the crop protec­tion chem­i­cals.

Rémi Minart considers the main benefit of xarvio® to be the reduc­tion in work­load. “It affords us the oppor­tu­nity to run the farm the way we want to, even during busy times,” he explains. One feature he finds prac­tical is the xarvio® app on his smart­phone, which he can use to send biomass maps to the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center, for example. He uses it daily. There are no compat­i­bility issues between the John Deere Oper­a­tions Center, xarvio® and the machinery. “There is a solid connec­tion between the systems,” Rémi Minart empha­sizes.