John Deere is counting on broadband spectrum as a fundamental element to the development of its products and services. Mark Lewellen joined John Deere just over a year ago as manager of spectrum advocacy. In talking with RCR TV-U2U Connect Show Host, Limor Schafman, Lewellen describes the revolution taking place in agriculture today as the advent of the networked (aka smart) farm.
Every tractor and plow now built by John Deere has the capability to be connected to 2G or 3G spectrum. Precision farming is the call of the day with farmers able to till land to within one inch per row with on-board GPS systems guiding the plow (driver is onboard but the rows are plowed by the machine alone) to exact positioning, reducing time and materials (seed, gas, man-hours) needed. At the same time, big data is playing a big role in agriculture with crop yields, crop planting investment, and marketplace purchases being brought together in yield maps and other applications that assist farmers in understanding which crops are growing best and maximizing ROI.
M2M is just beginning to really develop in this industry – imagine sensors embedded in soil to capture nutrient, moisture, and soil health. The applications and enterprise solutions possible for this burgeoning field are enough to make product and service companies’ mouths water.
With the need to feed a projected world population of 9.6 billion by 2050, and with an estimated 60% more food required to do so, agriculture will need all the help it can get. What it needs according to Lewellen: From telecom providers – a lot more towers; from the FCC – a reconsideration of the policy reforms made two years ago to the Universal Services Fund, which have caused financial uncertainty and resulted in a 70-80% drop in capital investment in fixed broadband.