Today John Deere has entered into an agreement with SpaceX to utilise its Starlink satellite internet constellation as part of the John Deere SATCOM solution. For farmers who operate in areas with challenging topography, satellites can be a reliable option for overcoming internet communication problems. Satellites signals can cover vast areas, providing connectivity even in remote and hilly regions.
As of early January, Starlink’s network of satellites consisted of 5,289 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit. Two days ago a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 more Starlink satellites lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, taking the total number of satellites to 5,312. There are plans to deploy around 12,000 satellites, with the potential for a later expansion to reach as many as 42,000.
The John Deere SATCOM solution will connect both new and existing machines through satellite internet service and ruggedised satellite terminals. John Deere dealers will install a ruggedised Starlink terminal on compatible machines, along with a 4G LTE JDLink modem to connect the machine to the John Deere Operations Center.
This will fully enable technologies such as autonomy, real-time data sharing, remote diagnostics, enhanced self-repair solutions, and machine-to-machine communication, all of which help farmers work more efficiently while minimising downtime.
“The value of connectivity to farmers is broader than any single task or action. Connectivity unlocks vast opportunities that were previously limited or unavailable,” said Aaron Wetzel, Vice President of Production and Precision Ag Production Systems at John Deere. “For example, throughout the year, farmers must complete tasks within extremely short windows of time. This requires executing incredibly precise production steps while coordinating between machines and managing machine performance. Each of these areas are enhanced through connectivity, making the entire operation more efficient, effective, and profitable.”
“John Deere has led the agriculture equipment industry for more than two decades with satellite-based precision guidance technology,” said Jahmy Hindman, Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at John Deere. “Now, we are bringing satellite communications service to the farm at scale so farmers with cellular coverage challenges can maximise the value of connectivity to their operations. The SATCOM solution unlocks the John Deere tech stack so every farmer can fully utilise their current precision agriculture technology in addition to the new innovative solutions they will deploy in the future. We initiated this process with a fierce focus on delivering value to our customers, and this partnership ensures we have a solution that meets their needs today and in the future.”
The SATCOM solution will initially be available through a limited release in the United States and Brazil starting in the second half of 2024.