John Deere has long been a keen advocator of digital technology, albeit in the form of mass capture of data, rather than direct driver aids such as TIM (tractor implement management).

Quite what farmers are meant to do with all the information generated is yet to be made clear, there is little sign of it making any great inroads into farm management practices so far, despite much trumpeting of its potential.

Back to the operator

It may be this lack of enthusiasm among customers which has prompted the company to focus on helping the driver operate machines more efficiently, rather than clogging up the farmers computer with streams of figures.

It has just been announced by John Deere that it is to open up its AutoTrac self-steering system to all TIM systems certified by the Agricultural Engineers Foundation (AEF).

TIM AEF Fleet tractors John Deere
John Deere is moving rapidly away from isolation towards full digital integration with other manufacturers

Farmers and contractors running multi-brand tractor fleets can now use AutoTrac TIM (Tractor Implement Management) activation for the Gen4 Universal Displays.

This means that the guidance system can be used on all tractors with TIM guidance capability, irrespective of the manufacturer.

Immediate compatibility with John Deere

Existing solutions for machine guidance on multi-colour fleets include AutoTrac Universal 300 and Reichhardt Greenfit.

The new AutoTrac TIM is a complementary system that is fully integrated with these other products, the key benefit being that no further steering wheel or controller components are needed.

Starfire John Deere digital
A Starfire receiver is still required to run AutoTrac

This is claimed to be a simple solution for farmers and contractors with mixed fleets who want to use a universal guidance system.

To run AutoTrac TIM, they need the AEF-certified Gen4 Universal Display (4240 or 4640) with AutoTrac activation and a StarFireTM 6000 or 7000 receiver.

Full-on synthesis with John Deere

Many manufacturers are now equipping their tractors with the AEF TIM interface. John Deere has unlocked its steering system for use in AEF-certified tractor systems from other manufacturers through ISOBUS.

Details on machine compatibility to fit John Deere AutoTrac TIM can be found on the AEF database.

John Deere  Starfire colour
John Deere is no longer intent on remaining isolated from universal software architecture

Furthermore, if the machine (regardless of brand) is equipped with a JDLink modem, data can be exchanged wirelessly and free of charge with the John Deere Operations Centre.

This enables workflows to be set up, planned, monitored and analysed in a single online portal, thus allowing customers to use precision farming functions such as drawing up of prescription maps.

Once these have been created, they can then be sent directly to the tractors in the field using John Deere AutoSetup.

More than just data capture

John Deere claims that by allowing this integration of other systems with its own, it has shown that openness to other manufacturers plays an important role in the application of digital technology.

In the past, John Deere has expressed the desire to use its own digital architecture in a bid to keep customers locked into buying green.

This move further suggests that it has come to realise that trying to maintain a closed shop is counter productive, and a universal system is far more likely to gain acceptance within day-to-day farming, and encourage greater acceptance of digital technology.