John Deere to offer new telematic options in spring

The popularity of high-tech telematics systems is set to take a leap forward with the news that John Deere will be offering an all-new set-up in the spring.

Telematics are widely used on trucks but aren’t that well known about in farming. They use sophisticated sensors to send on-the-go information about a tractor, forager or combine’s performance back to the farm office.

Positioning is done by GPS and information is sent back and forth via the mobile phone network. A malfunctioning component can even prompt an automatic alert to be sent to the local dealer’s service department.

Deere has had a more basic system for some time, but the new version of its JDLink technology promises to do a lot more than its predecessor. The technology is currently aimed mainly at bigger farmers and contractors but is likely to become more generally used as farmers see the benefits.

The only other farm machinery maker currently offering telematics is Claas, though other firms are said to be working on their own systems. Claas has offered a telematics option for its Lexion combines for three years.

It allows drivers and owners to measure a whole range of performance criteria. This includes the amount of time harvesting machinery is actually working against the time it is either idling on the headland or moving from one block of crop to another.

Operators can put their operating figures on a website, which gives a useful way to benchmark performance and operating efficiency.

Two Deere systems will be on offer next year. JDLink Select will be available for both Deere and other makes. It monitors the combine or forager’s location in the field and overlays it against a Google Earth map on the Deere website. It also logs running hours and alerts the driver when service intervals come up.

There’s a potential security benefit too. Farmers worried about the potential theft of an expensive piece of kit can set a GPS “fence”. If the machine goes beyond that boundary, a text or email is automatically sent to them.

The more sophisticated JD Link Ultimate gives more comprehensive vehicle monitoring, with working hours, idling hours, engine rpm, forward speed and fuel use all relayed back to the farm office. The system can even be set to send a text automatically if the fuel gets low.

It will be available for Deere 6030 to 9030 Series tractors and for 7000-7050 self-propelled foragers.

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