CNH gets in on farm space race with Intelsat collaboration

By Staff
3 Min Read

Dive Brief:

  • CNH Industrial on Monday said it will offer internet connectivity for farmers in rural areas through a partnership with satellite operator Intelsat.
  • The offering, which allows farmers to use precision agriculture tools in even the most rugged environments, will be available in Brazil later this year. CNH hopes to roll out the service in the U.S. in time for next year’s planting season, Marc Kermisch, chief digital and information officer, told Agriculture Dive.
  • The partnership comes a few months after Deere & Co. announced a similar deal with SpaceX’s Starlink network. CNH chose Intelsat over Starlink for its track record performing in rugged terrain and the satellite operator’s ability to provide three levels of internet connectivity, Kermisch said.

Dive Insight:

A space race is playing out on farms worldwide as equipment manufacturers look to get farmers online and connected to a suite of digital tools and services that promise to make operations more efficient.

“Satellite connectivity truly does become essential as you get towards autonomous operations and ensuring the safety and the efficacy of the product,” Kermisch said in an interview with Agriculture Dive. “But ultimately, we provide this so the farmer can ensure that they’re maximizing the profitability per acre.”

CNH’s service will start in Brazil, where high-speed internet access is available on just an estimated 19% of agricultural land. The rugged and isolated nature of the farms in Brazil will also allow CNH to further test and refine the solution before rolling it out in the U.S., Australia and other markets.

The service will be offered through an aftermarket kit that farmers can use to upgrade their existing tractors, combines and sprayers. The kit’s modem can essentially turn farm equipment into a Wi-Fi hotspot, which then can be used to bring other pieces of machinery online.

“If you have a satellite on your combine, you can open up the Wi-Fi connection from your tractor and connect to the combine just like you are walking into a coffee shop,” Kermisch said.

In the U.S., CNH hopes the service will provide more consistent connectivity in places like the Southeast, where hilly terrain can lead to spotty internet. Intelsat’s three levels of satellite connectivity ensure ubiquitous coverage and stand to support a fully autonomous vehicle in rugged and remote environments.

“The need to have a connected vehicle to the cloud so farmers can run their operations efficiently is growing exponentially,” Kermisch said. “And so satellite connectivity allows us to solve a critical problem for farmers in rural communities.”

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