Precision Ag

Precision agriculture can boost productivity, save time and can even be better for the environment by reducing the amount of pesticides and fertilizer used. But many precision ag applications need good connectivity to cloud-based support software. As news from agricultural equipment company CNH Industrial today reminds us, one of the options for that connectivity is satellite.

The company, which owns farm equipment businesses Case IH, Steyr and New Holland, has reached a deal with Intelsat to provide connectivity to its equipment.

The service will rely on Intelsat satellites and will work with what CNH calls a “rigorously tested terminal that connects easily and is proven to withstand extreme weather conditions and the vibration and shock produced by farming equipment and activity.”

The terminal will be used to exchange data securely with the cloud and to receive “highly specified directions” for agricultural tasks. Although CNH didn’t elaborate, those directions typically determine how much seed, fertilizer and pesticide to use on a row-by-row and even foot-by-foot basis.

According to Intelsat, the service that CNH will offer is the first multi-orbit satellite connectivity for farmers. As Intelsat CEO Dave Wajsgras explained in a prepared statement about the satellite precision agriculture plans, the ability to access multiple satellite orbits provides high reliability, greater throughput and a better user experience.

The service will be offered globally, with the U.S. scheduled to be one of its first markets beginning in 2025, a CNH spokesperson told Telecompetitor.

The offering is quite similar to a one that John Deere is planning with SpaceX involving SpaceX’s Starlink satellite service. That service is slated to launch later this year.

Satellite connectivity appears well suited for precision agriculture because traditional cellular service often doesn’t cover all of a farmer’s property. Another option may be private wireless, which involves deploying cellular equipment on a farm for a farmer’s exclusive use.

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