Deere brought its massive agricultural combine and GPS-guided tractor to the Las Vegas technology event, making the point that farming is more than sticking a finger up in the air to gauge the weather.
The machines are guided by enhanced GPS data that, according to the company, is accurate to 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) — compared with 3 meters (10 feet) for conventional GPS.
As they work the fields, the machines gather data about soil conditions and monitor how corn and other crops are being harvested to reduce waste and improve efficiency.
"We want consumers to understand how food is grown," said Deere marketing executive Deanna Kovar. "Not only is this machine harvesting the grain, it's harvesting the data, which helps farmers make decisions for next year."
Kovar said the extra electronics add about $10,000 to the cost of the combine, which sells for close to $500,000, and that most buyers take the option.
"You can get a savings of about one to three bushels per acre, so it pays for itself very quickly," she said.