John Deere to Use SpaceX Starlink for Digital Farming

Starlink john deere

Agricultural machinery giant John Deere has announced a significant collaboration with SpaceX’s Starlink to enhance its digital farming capabilities. This partnership aims to provide internet connectivity to Deere’s agricultural equipment in remote areas, leveraging Starlink’s extensive satellite fleet.

“This takes us a step closer to ubiquitous connectivity anywhere in the world. The biggest opportunity for us is to expose existing technologies to more customers,” said Jahmy Hindman, Deere’s Chief Technology Officer, in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

He emphasized the importance of this deal, stating, Deere, headquartered in Illinois, has been channeling billions into developing computer-assisted services for farmers. These innovations include software for distinguishing crops from weeds and autonomous tractors.

The agreement highlights Starlink’s growing influence in various sectors, from aiding in the Ukraine war to connecting communities affected by natural disasters. Starlink, a creation of SpaceX under CEO Elon Musk, operates the largest satellite fleet globally, with nearly 5,300 satellites in orbit.

Deere’s decision to partner with Starlink followed an eight-month evaluation of satellite options. Hindman noted Starlink’s rapid signal transmission due to its low-orbiting satellites as a key factor in their choice. He also pointed out SpaceX’s unique capability to build and launch satellites, distinguishing it in the satellite industry.

The partnership is a strategic move for Deere, which aims to generate 10% of its annual revenue from software service fees by the decade’s end. Deere’s digital farming tools allow farmers to remotely monitor equipment, diagnose issues without physical repairs, and access real-time data on various farming aspects.

However, a significant challenge remains in the lack of sufficient Wi-Fi service in rural areas. In the U.S., about 30% of farmed acres suffer from inadequate connectivity, a problem more pronounced in other major agricultural countries like Brazil.

According to unnamed sources, Starlink beat out Intelsat, another satellite internet provider, reports the WSJ.

Starlink said on Monday, “Starlink is ideal for rural locations. Later this year, @JohnDeere will begin equipping new and existing machines across the United States and Brazil with Starlink to help connect farmers with high-speed internet so they can fully leverage precision agriculture technologies.”

Yesterday, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched 23 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, further adding to the satellite constellation.