John Deere: Seeds can now get a robotic 'jolt' just like coffee in the morning

And that's not all. Deere has also announced a brand new all-electric excavator. 
Sade Agard
Deere's ExactShot System
Deere's ExactShot System

John Deere 

You may know this company for its green and yellow tractors- but John Deere has been leading tech innovation for almost 200 years. The well-known farm equipment company has established itself as a mainstay at the greatest tech exhibition in the world, CES (Consumer Electronics Show) - and for good reason. 

Today (January 5) at CES 2023, Deere finally revealed how its fully autonomous tractors have been given a new edge. That is, its robotic ExactShot system, which could reduce the amount of fertilizer needed by more than 60 percent. The firm also revealed a new all-electric excavator. 

With a focus on helping to feed the growing global population sustainably, both approaches aim to speed up repetitive tasks while improving their effectiveness and reducing waste.

'Seeds need a jolt, just like drinking coffee in the morning'

The new ExactShot system is a sensor and robotic-based system that helps farmers fertilize plants as they put them in the ground. 

"This reduces the amount of starter fertilizer farmers need by more than 60 percent while still allowing them to maintain the speeds they need to get the job done on time," explained Deanna Kovar at a keynote speech today at CES 2023, who is Deere's Vice President of production and precision Ag production systems.

"That's 93 million gallons. Based on today's commodity prices, this can save farmers $650 million of input costs," explained Deere's Chief Technology Officer, Jamie Hyneman. 

"Plants rely on fertilizer just like you and I rely on food. Without it, plants can't have the proper nutrition to produce the crops we rely on," Kovar added. "And it's no surprise that Mother Nature rarely provides the perfect growing conditions that each seed needs. They need a jolt, just like drinking a coffee in the morning."

Conventionally, farmers apply starter fertilizer in a way it is sprayed continuously down each row of plants, even though only the seed needs the jolt.

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"As of today, this is going to change," said Kovar. Now, the ExactShot system allows farmers to apply starter fertilizer precisely at scale, with speeds up to 10 miles per hour, and only where the seeds are planted.

'This can save farmers $650 million of input costs'

A planter with 24 [of these] robots can plant 720 seeds of corn per second. The system moves through the field at twice the speed of legacy planters" She explained that given the challenges of weather and labor, this is huge. 

According to Kovar, this single machine will plant 34 million corn seeds on a good day with precise placement and depth. While farmers are planting seeds, a sensor will register when each individual seed is going into the ground. 

And the robotic will spray only the amount of fertilizer needed. About two-tenths of a milliliter is directly sprayed on the seed at the exact moment that it goes into the soil. 

The speed synchronization precision in which this is happening in the field was previously unthinkable. 

The combination of sensors and robotics delivers massive cost savings to the farmer and a significant environmental benefit. Because in the process of growing corn today, fertilizer counts for a large portion of total greenhouse gas emissions. 

That means ExactShot can have an immediate, measurable impact on our environment today.