Product Focus: John Deere Connected Support

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With 12 John Deeres in its combined machinery fleet, cotton and wheat grower Hutchinson Ag makes the most of the company’s Connected Support offering.

Chis Hutchinson, from Central Queensland mixed-farming enterprise Hutchinson’s Ag, says Connected Support plays a vital role in ensuring the business’ John Deere fleet is operating at peak performance

Based near Moura in Central Queensland, mixed farming enterprise Hutchinson Ag says the industry leading remote diagnostics and backup delivered through John Deere’s Connected Support package is helping it to power productivity.

About half of the 4,500 hectares of mixed, sandy loam and black-clay soils farmed by Hutchinson Ag across Glendale and Macander on the Dawson River is under irrigation and encompasses production of 235 hectares of wheat and 1,800 hectares of cotton. The balance is used for dryland cropping and beef cattle production. 

Run by brothers Chris, Brian and Greg Hutchinson, alongside their father David, the business relies primarily on two CP690 cotton pickers and one 7760 cotton picker to service the business’ cotton production, as well as a powerful fleet of tractors including two 8345Rs and 8R340, 8345RT, 8370RT, 8420 models. The full equipment line up is rounded off with an R4038 sprayer and two Gator Utility Vehicles: a 625i and an 855D.

With so many machines in the field, Chris says Connected Support is critical technology to the business.

"Through this tool, our local dealership has been able to really look after us," he says.

"If there is a problem, they can look into it for us straight away and either give us pointers on how to fix it, or ensure when they come out to the farm, they have the right tools for the job.

"All in all, it has saved us a lot of time."

Through Connected Support’s Remote Display Access (RDA), technicians can not only monitor Diagnostic Trouble Codes but also ensure operators have the correct settings enacted in the cab to maximise machinery performance.

"We usually employ up to three backpackers, so if there’s a problem or they are having trouble linking screens, they can be helped remotely without someone having to drive out to where they are and showing them," says Chris. 

Connected Support’s Expert Alert system has the power to predict and prevent certain mechanical issues, avoiding costly repair bills or damage to the equipment, as the dealership is instantaneously notified and can take proactive action.

It’s a function Chris describes as a "safety net".

"Receiving up-to-date machine information is always useful and, through JDLink, we have had alerts come directly through to our phones, such as low hydraulic oil on the machine, so we can act immediately," he says.

"Any alert, from a low-fuel level type thing to something serious, all comes through, and we can get onto it as soon as we can."

Hutchinson Ag has a focus on precision agriculture and, through Connected Support, Chris has been able to ensure settings in his machines’ cabs are optimised.

This includes having the right parameters set for the AutoTrac Implement Guidance system, to keep implements on a controlled line, even if the tractor drifts off it.

"AutoTrac Implement Guidance has really helped us because you can put a backpacker in the machine and, because of the technology, you’ll have straight rows despite their inexperience in operating that particular equipment," says Chris.

"The extended support through technicians, where they can log in and talk you through different setups is fantastic.

"We first saw this when setting up implement guidance and they gave me some options I had not thought of."

At the end of each season, Chris says Hutchinson Ag’s machines provided a variety of powerful data that could be analysed to help make informed decisions for future yield maximisation and productivity.

"Each year we’re trying to grow more with less," says Chris.

"We see that as a good challenge and are using both the new traits seed companies are releasing and the new precision ag technology available — to keep us pushing those boundaries."

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