This week, John Deere invited members
of the ag media to Indianapolis, Indiana, to see the official
unveiling of its new 2012 product line up. The event was part of the
company’s dealer convention and new product training. Just like
AGCO’s Kansas City launch two weeks prior, farm writers had a chance
to not only see the new equipment but also talk to some dealers to
see what they thought of the models that will soon be sitting on
And like AGCO, Deere introduced the new
machines to a large crowd with an eye-catching stage presentation.
With new combines, updated tractor
lines and expanded telematics technology to show off, the list of new
green products was a long one. So long, in fact, Deere is calling it
the “Largest, most significant product introduction in the
company’s 174-year history”.
To start with, the current 70 Series
combines will be replaced by the S Series, which will include five
models. And for the first time, Deere will offer a Class 9. According
to product specialist Kathy Michael, the new combines are a complete
redesign, with about 45 per cent of each machine made up of entirely
Dealers make their way onto the
stage for a closer look at one of the S Series combines on display.
The company also took a significant
step toward standardizing its tractor model numbering with the
introduction of the 6R, 7R and 9R lines. But there is more to these
new models than just different numbers. The tractors get new, more
spacious cabs and a long list of improved features from front to
Aside from all the new sheet metal on
display, Deere spokesmen drove home the point that the company now
considers itself a “solutions” provider for farmers. That means
providing brains to go with the brawn of new equipment by offering
One of those new telematics features,
Machine Sync, was demonstrated for us in a field just outside of
Indianapolis. It allows a combine operator to take control of a
simplifying the operation. And the company promised that more
machine-to-machine communication and synchronization packages are
just over the horizon.
But with roughly 4 million lines of
software code in use on some new tractors—more than early space
shuttles used—will Deere need to expand its Waterloo plant in order
to hold operator training camps as intensive as NASA’s astronaut
programs? Absolutely not is the answer from product
specialists. They’re promising to “keep it simple” for operators
who need to control these new and impressive technologies.
And with the JD Link telematics system,
its possible for a farm manager to sit at an office computer and see
what a tractor or combine operator sees on his or her in-cab display
screen. It will even be possible for dealers to do the same and
provide assistance to an operator experiencing a problem, or help him
set up or control functions in the field.
That also gives dealers an opportunity
to expand their range of services to farmers, setting up kind of a
green version of Geek Squad to minimize downtown due to electronic
problems. It’s another part of that “solutions” concept.
Finally, how does beer fit into all of
this? Well, after the equipment unveiling, Deere provided
refreshments to the crowd. One of the beverages available was “John
Deere Green Beer”. I had to try it, and it was green. In case
you’ve never seen green beer, here’s my glass sitting on the front of
an 8R tractor.
What could be better than standing in
the midst of the second display of impressive, brand new equipment
I’ve seen in barely two weeks and having a glass of beer to wash it
all down with?