“Connectivity is key” for Agronomy and Precision Agriculture (PA) service providers where much of their work requires problem-solving in the paddock and having access to a suite of information sources. Many agronomists have begun to rely on cloud-based farm management platforms to record and communicate their recommendations to clients. The increased sophistication of modern farm machinery since the advent of GPS guidance and variable rate application of farming inputs has also increased the importance of reliable connectivity for machinery suppliers so they can help farmers get the most out of the equipment they provide.
For this reason, the team from Hutcheon & Pearce, one of Australia’s largest dealers of John Deere machinery, was keen to trial the 5G ZetiRover units to help their service and precision agriculture specialists to work more effectively and efficiently as they travel through the country.
For James Niemeyer and John Dailey, PA specialists from Hutcheon & Pearce’s TECSight division that helps farmers get the most out of the modern John Deere machinery supplied by the business, the 5G eMBB ZetiRover made a “measurable difference” to the service they could provide. James spends a lot of time out in the field supporting clients with their machinery and ag tech solutions. Before having a ZetiRover installed on his ute, James would have to drive up the nearest hill to make a call and/or to access My John Deere (the online data and support portal for John Deere machinery) and in some cases where the coverage was that bad James would have to make notes in the paddock and then return to the office to make the necessary calls, view data, seek advice on parts etc. which was not the most efficient use of time.
Whilst only being able to trial the ZetiRover for a short period of time James Niemeyer has been able to increase the timeliness of information being relayed to clients which has allowed for more timely operations and time savings just by simply being able to get jobs done out in the paddock. And with more and more information becoming available on the web including the ability to access machinery manuals online, James believes “talking to the cloud will be paramount” and service providers in the agronomy and precision ag space will need to be connected.
John Dailey had a similarly positive experience with the 5G eMBB device, commenting that his “life revolves around the internet” due to the range of programs he now uses to help clients achieve the best outcomes on-farm in his role with TECSight. For example, John uses T3RRA Cutta, an in-cab landforming system that combines with elevation data to help users to design, optimise and implement earth moving operations, resulting in minimal earth being moved to achieve the same water movement outcomes for irrigation farmers. With the ZetiRover, John was able to download and upload data right there in the paddock rather than waiting until he returned to the office. This not only saved him time but also delivered the information back to the farmer instantly.
Another way John has found the ZetiRover useful was the connection range from his vehicle, with Wi-Fi still usable as far as two hundred metres from his vehicle. This came in handy when downloading and uploading shape files that determine variable rate prescriptions into client’s machinery. In the past John relied on a SIM card in his laptop which was very hit and miss, or would hotspot off his phone – often requiring him to jump in and out of the tractor cab multiple times to get the files transferred. With the ZetiRover however John was able to remain in the tractor cab to download the file and he found it to be “5-6 times quicker” with the ZetiRover in comparison to hotspotting off his phone.
Tom Hensgen, After-Market Sales Manager at Hutcheon & Pearce also trialled a ZetiRover and for him being able to connect to online meetings whilst on the road has been a big boost to his productivity and meant that he has not had to dedicate specific ‘office days’ to attend, instead fitting them in amongst other activities.
Photos (top to bottom): 5G ZetiRover unit on Hutcheon & Pearce service vehicle; Zetifi staff Spencer and Ramon installing 5G ZetiRover on Hutcheon & Pearce vehicle.
NOTE: This case study was researched and written by Birchip Cropping Group as part of the Australian Government-funded 5G Innovation Initiative (5GII) project. The 5G enhanced mobile broadband ZetiRover units were provided to Hutcheon & Pearce free of charge for the period of the trial.