Four top tips for unlocking the benefits of digital agriculture

Digital agriculture continues to become a part of everyday life for many Australian growers with more and more farm businesses recognising the wide-reaching benefits precision agriculture has on their operations. John Deere Australia and New Zealand precision agriculture manager Benji Blevin has shared four steps farmers can take to turn digital agriculture into on-farm profitability. Blevin believes delivering simple-to-use packages of technology that help farmers to adopt AgTech in a time and resource-effective way would be crucial to industry further quantifying the gains achievable through precision agriculture. “There’s no doubt digital agriculture has made the transition from what was a concept for the future to something that is being effectively used by producers now to make management decisions that are yielding real economic and sustainability outcomes,” he said. “We have created easy-to-use and relevant resources for farmers that enable them to either begin their digital ag journey or develop knowledge to extract even more value and performance from digital technology.” These resources, including the John Deere Operations Center, make up Deere’s Digital Ecosystem, which connects equipment, people and information to enable near real-time data collection for future decision making. For those looking to utilise the digital ecosystem, Blevin’s four key tips are aimed at helping farmers turn their on-farm data into a powerful decision-making tool. The first step is to know what you want to achieve with your data. “Ask yourself – what do I want to get out of collecting this information? What do I need to put in place to get those results?” he said. “Once you’ve identified your goals, take a structured approach to digital agriculture so it is possible to measure and strive for improvement.” Another recommendation is to spend time on getting your setup correct. “It is important to take the time to set up your digital assets, so you are collecting the right information for your needs,” Blevin said. “Setting up boundaries, guidance lines, chemicals, varieties and any other key inputs in the Operations Center, before heading into the paddock, will save time and enable more accurate collection of data.” Blevin also advised once data has been set up, to automate data collection so information is consistently gathered and ready for analysis. “With automation, you remove and simplify the touchpoints required to collect and transfer data from the machine to the Operations Center,” he said. “Your data is updated to the cloud every 30 seconds, while you focus on the work in the paddock.” His final tip is to work through the data collected to understand it, in efforts to drive your decisions. “If you can identify that a field has 20% yield variability, you know that there’s money to be made there, and you can focus on it,” Blevin said. “Another way to extract even more value is to bring in a specialised skillset, such as your agronomist, farm advisor or financial advisor and allow them to access and analyse information such as crop records to make strategic recommendations.” These four tips can provide the opportunity for growers to take full advantage of the tools available. To learn more about the John Deere Digital Ecosystem, growers are encouraged to visit to view several online resources include how-to videos and case studies from growers. Growers are also encouraged to contact their local AFGRI branch or the AFGRI Precision Ag Support Centre on (08) 6274 2424.