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Musk’s SpaceX to Help Deere Connect Farmers to the Internet

(Bloomberg) —

The world’s largest tractor maker Deere & Co. is working with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to connect rural areas of the US and Brazil to internet satellites.

Tractors in the two countries can be outfitted with SpaceX’s Starlink terminal that connects to Deere’s operations center starting in the second half of this year as part of an “industry first” partnership, Deere said in a Tuesday statement.

“We are bringing satellite communications service to the farm at scale so farmers with cellular coverage challenges can maximize the value of connectivity to their operations,” Deere Chief Technology Officer Jahmy Hindman said in the statement.

Farmers have been using satellite-assisted technology since the late 1990s and, more recently, SpaceX’s Starlink system has been pitched to the agricultural industry as a way to provide rural areas with reliable internet. Only 30% of big US farmers professed to having “high quality” internet, according to a 2022 survey, while growers are increasingly reliant on machinery that measures and tracks how each seed is planted, fertilized and harvested.

The collaboration comes when farmers have been buying fewer tractors amid falling crop prices, and as Deere seeks to generate 10% of its revenue through “recurring” models such as subscription fees by 2030. The partnership was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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