New Farming Tech Using Lasers For More Efficient Planting
New laser enabled planting technology
John Deere has introduced a new planter performance upgrade for 2023 called FurrowVision  that combines 3D cameras and laser measurement to provide accurate real-time seed placement. It is an add-on to existing John Deere planters that looks directly down into the furrow during planting and gives the operator a live view of the seed planting efficiency along with automatic analysis and reporting if the results are within assigned parameters. This level of integration removes the typical need to periodically stop the equipment, get out, manually dig into the field to determine if the depth and seed placement are matching what is desired. As noted in a Successful Farming article, the system allows the farmer to “…pause the video and rewind where needed to evaluate the seed-to-soil contact while planting…”  to make adjustments.
Optimized planting and real-time automation
The FurrowVision package mounts cameras, sensors and wiring onto a single row unit in each of the three planter sections; one each on the left, right and center wings of the typical planter regardless of the overall width and row capacity of the planter. Each planter section already has simpler automated adjustments for depth built in, so this level of row unit integration allows that control to be further fine tuned in real time as the planter moves through fields at up to 10 miles per hour.
This package provides a live video of the planting operation to the operator, that John Deere’s marketing director Jordan Lange notes with: “… in the cab via display, you’re going to see the imagery that is taken from those cameras in real time. You’re going to get (seed) depth and see the quality of the furrow.” 
Leading to future automation
The FurrowVision package– and others Deere is working on, such as their ExactShot  package for optimized fertilizer placement during planting– are stepping stones to future fully automated planters that can apply AI to monitor and correct seed placement in real-time without any human interaction. This is all part of John Deere’s overall goal to provide products that assist with growing food “smartly and sustainably”  by using technology to offset labor challenges, to optimize seed usage, and to minimize chemical and fertilizer application.
Deere has also hinted how “a visioning system that today looks at seed placement and residue but in the future may also look at soil structure, soil type, make evaluations of moisture or condensation, and adjust seed depth or seed positioning based on obstructions in the trench…”  could provide more data for advanced controls.
The FurrowVision package help farmers ensure that the seed they are planting is being properly placed and help give an optimum change for germination. And these packages together can help reduce the overall cost of seed and fertilizer as Deere notes in their announcement that “ExactShot reduces the use of starter by 60%.” 
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 ProgressiveFarmer (DTN), John Deere FurrowVision preview: https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/equipment/article/2023/03/15/deeres-furrowvision-tech-brings-real
 SuccessfulFarming (agriculture.com): https://www.agriculture.com/machinery/planting/john-deere-furrow-vision-gives-direct-view-of-seed-while-planting
 ProgressiveFarmer (DTN), JohnDeere ExactShot video announcement: https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/videos/special-reports?embedCode=ags2023f05&channelTab=Special%20Reports
 ProgressiveFarmer (DTN), JohnDeere, CES 2023 comments on sustainability: https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/equipment/article/2023/01/06/deere-ceo-lays-tech-strategy-ag-ces
Feature image credit: John Deere