Agri-business center stage at CES

Technology here and now committed to sustainable farming

John Deere at CES 2023 announced their new sensor and robotics-based system for applying fertilizer, ExactShot, as well as a new electric excavator. Both technologies were developed to make repetitive processes in agriculture more efficient and less wasteful. 

Unlike some of the new tech seen and played with at CES 2023, John Deere CEO John May said during his keynote, this new technology isn’t just conceptual, but is “real and is being used on farms today.” 

CES 2023 – An enterprise push towards sustainability:

Innovation regarding sustainability has taken precedence at CES 2023, as more companies are growing their own commitments to build sustainable supply chains and slow emissions. 

Companies and start-ups touched on a broad range of those efforts and the United States Department of Energy even had a booth this year. John Deere’s newest electronic farm equipment was also said to be funded by the Department in a keynote address given by Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm.

Sustainable Agri-business:

One of the big criticisms of the world of agri-business has been that it’s not sustainable. With the global population projected to rise to 10 billion by 2050 from 8 billion today, food production on arable land will grow by 60%-70%. The pitch with ExactShot is that it will help farmers be economically and environmentally sustainable as output demand inevitably increases.

Using sensors, ExactShot identifies where seeds are planted and sprays fertilizer only in those precise locations. Per Deere’s projections, this could reduce fertilizer use by 93 million gallons annually, meaning that weed growth will also lessen, implying less chemical control and less water required to grow. Meanwhile the new electric excavator is aimed at reducing noise, emissions and daily operating costs.

Personal Autonomy and Environmental Sustainability:

Doubling down on a similar commitment earlier this week with the American Farm Bureau Federation, John Deere signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) earlier this week that ensures farmers’ and ranchers’ right to repair their farm equipment. The MOU commits John Deere to ensuring farmers and independent repair facilities regain access to the tools and software needed to grow sustainable business. 

According to The Repair Association, a right-to-repair advocacy group, everyone should have access to manuals, software updates, and the parts and tools to service devices. With technology such as automation and precision guidance, John Deere is aiming to help farmers do more with less. 

Technology is Key to the Future of Farming:

Changing weather patterns, a lack of skilled labor and declining availability of farmland has already begun to present unprecedented challenges. John May said during his keynote address that today’s farmers are expected to produce more with less. “There’s less arable land, less rural labor, less time to do [farm work] due to weather volatility and rising input costs.” 

Where technology poses solutions to these challenges, May also stated that these innovations will empower customers “to have economically and environmentally sustainable businesses” to provide “for themselves and their families while ensuring food security for the world.” 

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