Precision agriculture, farming for a sustainable future

Globally, industries are turning to digitally integrated solutions that promise to bring an increase in productivity and efficiency, resulting in more revenue. The agricultural sector is no exception; farmers are turning to technological solutions to increase yields, while keeping costs lower.

Precision agriculture is the practice of controlling inputs and data driven decision making to help farmers work better, not harder. It is also referred to as site-specific agriculture, which enables farmers to reduce the over application of products and increase crop and farm efficiency. This practice attracts younger farmers, breathing new life into the sector, with precision farming being one of several modern farming advances aimed at making production more efficient.

Precision agriculture relies on several technological advances to optimise output. Global Positioning Systems (GPS), GPS- guided tractors and complementary vehicles, as well as other geo-referenced site-specific practices, such as electromagnetic soil mapping, aerial imagery, crop or soil colour index maps and more, form part of these activities. In South Africa, leading tractor and agricultural machinery company, John Deere, stands at the forefront of this digital agricultural revolution.

“There is a constant stream of brand new innovations which include, but is not limited to, satellite geomapping, sensors used to compile information on moisture, soil temperature and other relevant agronomic data. These are aimed at providing insight into the health of the land on a near real-time basis. The John Deere StarFire™ 6000 receiver enables farmers to synchronise their farming activities with accuracy capability of 15 cm down to 3 cm, as well as in-season repeatability throughout the growing season,” explains Tavonga Siyavora, Technology Specialist at John Deere Africa.

Recently, John Deere Financial helped finance the addition of automated GPS-based vehicle guidance systems to a farmer’s fleet in the Western Cape. John Deere Financial’s prime minus structure enabled these small grain farmers in the Overberg region to complete their controlled traffic farming system.

“Increasing yield and managing costs were at the core of our decision to move into the precision agriculture sphere. It enables us to optimise agricultural practices, while continually decreasing our input costs. We therefore made the decision to advance our farm by changing our management system to a more digitally integrated structure,” explains Hume Schönefeldt, who financed his controlled traffic farming system through John Deere Financial.

“Controlled traffic farming is a growing practice which reduces compaction to the soil by confining all machinery passes to permanent traffic lanes. And as a new agronomic year approaches, it is important for farmers to use tools such as the John Deere Operations Center or Apex to gain insights from their agronomic data. Acting on these insights and industry best practices help reduce input costs while sustainably increasing yield,” continues Siyavora.

For more information on precision farming, financing and the John Deere offering, contact your local dealer today. Also, find them on Facebook and Twitter. 

About John Deere

Deere & Company is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land – those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world’s dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at or our Sub- Saharan Africa website at

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