Telling the story of the use of agricultural technology isn’t easy. For many who hear what farmers are doing, there’s the surprise in how advanced tools are put to work. John Deere is working to advance the knowledge and has focused a key part of that effort on the largest technology stage in the United States — CES, which was once known as the Consumer Electronics Show.
In 2019, the company hit the show floor full force, with a combine on-site and display areas showing where tech fits in the world of food, fuel and fiber production. When the doors open on the 2020 CES this week, John Deere will be on hand, and the company is focusing even more on agriculture.
As part of that effort, the company entered a product in the CES competition, which recognizes new technologies from exhibitors. And John Deere won for its new 8RX tractor. But what category does a tractor fit?
“We’re honored,” says Cyndee Smiley, public relations manager, John Deere. “Every year, CES does an innovation award competition, and they have a category, ‘Tech for a Better World.’ We were looking at what John Deere does with our technology, our equipment — and more importantly, how our customers use that technology; it’s tech for a better world.” The company submitted the 8RX in that category.
Courtesy of John Deere
AWARD WINNER: It’s a kind of first: CES has honored John Deere with an innovation award for the 8RX tractor. This is the first time a piece of ag equipment has been honored by this event.
Smiley explains that the tractor offers tech leadership, from advanced artificial intelligence to updated user experience technology, and the engineering of the four-track design on a fixed-frame machine.
“And when you think about how our farmers use that tractor, it’s technology for a better world. They use it every day … they use our equipment for food, fuel and fiber production for the world,” she says.
Given that, and the role the tractor plays, CES judges honored the 8RX with an Innovation Award for 2020.
No tractor in the booth
While the 8RX did win the Innovation Award, Smiley quickly points out that the whole tractor will not be at the exhibit. Instead, a different piece of equipment will be on hand. “The 8RX full tractor will not be at CES; we will have elements of the tractor in the booth, as well as a different piece of equipment that is not a combine,” she says.
It will be up to John Deere’s Twitter followers to see what the company will have on hand at CES this year when the doors open. But what’s the goal of the 2020 exhibit? And how is it different from the 2019 effort?
“We always start with, what is the goal at the show?” Smiley says. “John Deere is a tech company — a leader not just in concepts in artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things — but Deere actually commercializes them to move ag forward.”
She notes that visitors to the site will see a product that’s on the market today that shows the company’s tech leadership.
But the exhibit goes beyond just showing Deere tech. “We want to advocate for farmers and agriculture. We’re bringing in a story line that really showcases the amazing work our farmers do, and how technology adoption will allow them to grow enough healthy food for a growing world, while protecting the Earth,” Smiley says.
She notes the company won’t have the splash of a combine as it did in that inaugural exhibit in 2019, but there are other ways to tell the story in an exciting manner. “There's no better way than to have a customer there with us, telling their unique farm story, with Deere telling their tech story,” Smiley says.
On hand at this year's exhibit will be Jeremy Jack, a Belzoni, Miss., farmer, with his wife, Elizabeth. Their Silent Shade farm operation uses a range of technologies to manage many factors of the business. In addition, Deere will have a dealer on hand to discuss the retail side of agriculture.
SHARING THE STORY: A key part of the John Deere mission at the show is to share the story of technology and its value in the sustainable production of food, fuel and fiber.
Telling the farm story
At its heart, the Deere exhibit at CES aims to show this diverse audience the tech involved in food production. The effort last year garnered wide-ranging attention, and already this year, the company has lined up dozens of interviews with non-ag media. In addition, several ag media players are making their first foray to the big show as well.
As for the exhibit: “We'll have living plants in the booth, and more different ag elements than we did in 2019,” Smiley says. “Visitors can see some crops, see what corn looks like, how tall it is. For the Jacks, there will be a display of their commodities, their cotton, and soybeans right out of the grain tank of their combine. The attendees coming through will really be able to get an understanding of agriculture.”
Smiley recalls that at that first exhibit in 2019, the company didn’t really know how this high-tech audience would react to a farm exhibit. “We were humbled and pleased by the response and their interest in learning how the farm works, where food comes from,” she notes. “We’re focused this year on telling the story about how we’re working to produce enough healthy food and feed for a growing world, while protecting the Earth.”
Farm Progress will be on the show floor at CES. You can catch what's happening by following us at twitter.com/farmindustrynew, or twitter.com/willie1701a.