Playing nicely together in the tech sandbox

There is more than enough work to go around!

This is true in farming and also for the many agri-businesses that support farmers. Gone are the days when one company could support a farmers’ needs in all areas of their operation. Instead, companies are seeing the benefits of playing together in the sandbox; of developing their specialty equipment, product or service and collaborating with other providers. This applies to many aspects of farm business, but it certainly applies to technology and precision agriculture.

Our last post highlighted FarmDog as a crop scouting app that can be used together with John Deere Operations Center. However, this is just one of many connected software tools that are designed to sync with Operations Center. This is beneficial to farmers for a number of reasons:

  • it allows flexibility in deciding what data is collected

  • it is financial beneficial as farmers only pay for services they want to use

  • it improves efficiency because generic information, such as field geography, can be shared rather than being regenerated

  • it allows very detailed and specific functionalities designed for very specialized production operations

  • it allows a company to provide better customer service by focusing supports on a narrower range of products and services

There is more than enough room for expansion and specialization in precision agriculture technologies and equipment - there is a lot of room in the sandbox. It benefits producers when suppliers design and build products that work together.

So to all of the companies focused on developing their niche market while collaborating with others - Thank You!

Manitoba Farm Women - Chrissy Van Damme

Under The Hill Farms is the potato division of a family-operated farm business located near Cypress River, MB.  Chrissy VanDamme is the farm’s agronomist and front line in data collection and aggregation. Technology is helping her move beyond collecting data to actually gathering information.

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What else does John Deere Operation Center do for UTHF?

  • Allows users to pre-load all of the equipment specifications, such as implement sizes, into the monitors

    • Lesson learned: load all information into all monitors just in case monitors need to be moved between pieces of equipment due to a breakdown or other unplanned issue

  • Allows the farm manager to see where each piece of equipment is working, as well as details like how long it has been operating and the fuel level

    • This allows a supervisor or mechanic to know exactly where the equipment is located

    • This can aid in loss-recovery

  • Allows users to check things as specific as the combine settings, and enter the monitor to make changes remotely

    • Troubleshooting can be tricky and two brains are often better than one

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How does a “big name” like John Deere Operation Center bring added value?

As Chrissy continues to gain familiarity with the capabilities of operation center, she cited some added value that comes with working with a company with a high level of industry saturation.

  • Other apps are designed to sync with JD Operations Center

    • Soil Test Pro

    • Farm Dog

  • Technical support is available locally, through the dealership network

  • Operations Center has a full staff dedicated to fielding operator suggestions and making improvements based on these suggestions from the field (literally)

As farming operations gain size and complexity, both in the number of employees and the diversity of crops, it is helpful to have a repository to collect information.  The next step is being able to take that information and turn it into informed decision making and action to positively impact the operation.

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Corn Plots at OTHF

Chrissy said that “she doesn't’ really like technology” but once she got started it was pretty fun to see all of the things that were at her fingertips!  Thanks to Chrissy and Under The Hill Farms for giving us a sneak peak into running the John Deere Operation Center in a complex farming operation.

Best of FarmFemmes: JD Operations Center

Originally posted in November 2017

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I have received many e-mails about my original post about using the John Deere Operations Center for the first time.  Thanks for all of the feedback & questions, keep them coming!

Your questions have led to me doing a lot of research, so there will be more posts in the upcoming weeks as I keep finding out more answers.  In the meantime here are the answers to some of the questions:

1. What display is being used to capture the data you uploaded into the JD Operations Center?

The display used on Deer Creek Farms is a 2630.  

John Deere does have their Gen4 displays available (4640 Universal display), but there are some differences in pricing models to consider.

2. How did you get the data from your display to John Deere Operations Center?

My dad put the data from the display onto a USB stick, and I uploaded it to the John Deere Operations Center using the John Deere Data Manager.  It was a really quick process to do (depending on your internet speed of course).  There are a number of wireless options available, but this was the quickest and easiest (and cheapest) way to get started this year.

3. I’ve uploaded data, but it’s all messed up because I didn’t name the fields consistently.

No problem.  We had this issue too, if I recall correctly, my dad had 156 fields when I loaded it in the first time due to naming conventions and the number of historical year's worth of data I loaded.  Obviously that wasn’t right, so it took a little finagling to figure out how to merge fields.  That way, it doesn’t matter what you named them, as long as you remember the logic.  Field 2 vs. fd2 vs. pet field vs. closest to house can all be merged if they all mean the same field to you.

Here is how you merge fields:

  1. Log In to myJohnDeere

  2. Click on the open book with a push pin in it icon that’s in the upper left hand corner

  3. Click the icon that looks like a shape file

  4. Click on a field

  5. Click the i button icon about that field

  6. Locate the Merge option, 5th from the top

  7. Use the radio buttons to select the fields you want to merge

  8. Click the yellow merge button


4. How do I look at the data in reports that I can use for field planning next year?

There are a number of pre-built reports that are standard in the Operations Center.  Some are simply what you did on a specific field for a given year, like the below.  


These reports can also be helpful when comparing the yields between different varieties.  


Keep sending in your questions!  I still have 7 more to answer - so thanks to everyone who was interested in learning more!

We are always happy to help you and your farm if you are in the phase of getting started with precision ag technologies, or you are ready to optimize what you’ve been tracking for several years now.  You can either comment below, or send either of us an e-mail at or

21 years young

Customer service matters.  Bottom line.

Green Valley Equipment in Morden has been my Dad's dealership for as long as I can remember, and Jeremy at GVE really got it right last week!  My Dad's tractor was in the shop and when he picked it up he had a pleasant surprise - it had been fully detailed and waxed by 180 Collision Auto Body of Morden.  Not only does this show attention to detail and going the extra mile, but it also shows how well Jeremy knows my Dad.  This was the exact perfect gift for him.

Kudos to Jeremy and GVE for a job well done... this tractor looks better than some half her age!

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Global Big Data Conference: Precision Ag

It's presentation day @ the Global Big Data Conference on Artificial Intelligence!  One of my favorite videos is today's because I just read this fun stat in the January, 2018 issue of Canola Digest that only 15% of farmers are using precision agriculture.  

This video shows how Deer Creek Farms of Morden, Manitoba got started in Precision Agriculture, and the results it had on the 2017 Canola harvest.  If you enjoy the video, please share it on Facebook or Twitter.  If you have your own precision ag story that you'd be willing to share with us please comment below or send us an e-mail.  

Global Big Data Conference: Precision Ag

We are looking forward to presenting at the Global Big Data Conference on Artificial Intelligence on Wednesday, in Santa Clara, California!  

This week we'll share the videos we have made for the presentation.  If you like them, please share them on your Facebook or Twitter accounts, we'd love to see how many people we can reach and we'd love your help!