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John Deere and StarFire: Nothing runs like a Deere!

starfire_itcWhen we talk about agri-food, there’s the word food. However, we don’t forget that there is the word agriculture. Without agriculture, there is no food. Agriculture has evolved since the arrival of the tractor on the market. Today, the evolution of motors have been replaced by the introduction of computerized production. Productivity is the main priority for farmers of the 21st century and what better than the introduction of the GPS to help the situation

The GPS, the essential tool for everybody

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is used for localization and positioning. According to Professor Rock Santerre of the Geomatics departement at Laval University, GPS are working with NAVSTAR satellites that are rotating over the Earth. On the ground, «tracking stations» are following those satellites to gather the data and send it to GPS monitors which help people to find their way. Many kinds of GPS exists on the market. There are the ones especially for cars that shows all the roads and all the informations about gas stations, restaurants, etc… Also, there are GPS for people who likes hitchiking that contains topographics maps.

GPSGPS in agriculture

The use of GPS in agriculture has allowed to farmers to rise their productivity on the fields. Farm equipment manufacturers are offering instruments that are using GPS for maximizing the production of grain and hay. This article will talk about StarFire equipment made by John Deere. This equipment helps with the tractor’s direction on the field. To be more simple, when the farmer works on the fields without a GPS, he’s planting seeds in a non-productive way because the path is not precise.

First of all, the integration of GPS in farm equipment is a challenge for manufacturers because farmers do not have a Ph.D in computer science or in geomatics. Those equipments need to be simple because users wants them to be simple of use. With John Deere, they answered those problems by doing an easy to use interface for the farmer. The farmer can enter the slope of the field and also to choose the program that he needs without getting lost in the interface or doing some coding.

The StarFire System

How does it works? First of all, the farmer have to install GPS systems, which looks like boats radars, on tractors and the equipment. Usually, the second GPS is on the seeder or on the harrow. When the tractor is on the field, the GPS calculates all the distances around the tractor to create a path that he will follow. This path will be the best for the field so that any piece of the field wouldn’t be forgotten. With StarFire, the farmer doesn’t have to steer back the tractor to have the best path because everything is done by the system.

However, there is a little disadvantage: it costs a little bit too much. The GPS without the interface program costs 1300$. By adding the interface, the total amount is 2300$ and it doesn’t include the installation costs. However, this purchase is a good investment because the profits that the additional crops that the system will brought, will be much higher that the costs of this equipment.

By reading this text, you should know that I’m a big fan of that company from Illnois. I’m a big fan because I’ve been surround by those tractors all my youth.

What do you think about this technology?

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