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John Deere Turns to Starlink for Autonomous Tractor Connectivity

Satellite data service lets John Deere's autonomous tractors employ online services.

Dan Carney

January 17, 2024

2 Min Read
John Deere's 8R autonomous tractor at work.
John Deere's 8R autonomous tractor at work.John Deere

Iconic tractor manufacturer Deere & Company has cut a deal with new-space stalwart SpaceX to apply that company’s Starlink satellite internet service to its tractors.

Access to Starlink’s network will let farmers with rural internet connectivity challenges better enjoy the benefits of Deere’s precision agriculture technologies. Deere promises that Starlink will help its customers to be more productive and profitable.

The ruggedized Starlink terminal will connect both new and existing tractors to enable technologies such as autonomy, real-time data sharing, remote diagnostics, enhanced self-repair solutions, and machine-to-machine communication.

Starting in the second half of 2024, U.S. and Brazilian John Deere dealers will install the Starlink terminal on suitable tractors, along with a 4G LTE JDLink modem to connect the machine to the John Deere Operations Center. The SATCOM solution will initially be available through a limited release in the United States and Brazil starting in the second half of 2024.

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“The value of connectivity to farmers is broader than any single task or action,” said Aaron Wetzel, Vice President of Production and Precision Ag Production Systems at John Deere. “Connectivity unlocks vast opportunities that were previously limited or unavailable,” he continued. “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 is enhanced through connectivity, making the entire operation more efficient, effective, and profitable.”

Anyone unfamiliar with the importance of precision in farming and the incredible complexity of modern farm equipment can have their eyes opened by the Netflix docuseries Clarkson’s Farm in which the city-dwelling protagonist learns the difficulty of farming and tractor operation.

Perhaps the emerging availability of Starlink internet services can be a future plot point for the show, even though Jeremy Clarkson, the farm’s owner, gained fame driving fast cars on the Top Gear BBC television show, and accordingly chose a Lamborghini tractor rather than a John Deere. Experienced farmers miss few opportunities to point out to Clarkson that the Lambo was not the best choice for his operation, so maybe he switch to a Deere in the future.

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