John Deere executives took to the keynote stage at CES 2023 to unveil a technology that reduces the amount of fertiliser farmers need for planting crops by 60 per cent while also reducing a large portion of the greenhouse gas emission caused by the overuse of fertiliser.

The company’s ExactShot technology uses sensors and robotics to place starter fertiliser precisely onto seeds as they are planted in the soil instead of applying a continuous stream across the entire row of seeds.

Deanna Kovar, vice president of production and precision agriculture production systems for John Deere, explained that not only does ExactShot cut-down on the use of starter fertiliser, it also eliminates inadvertently fertilising unwanted weeds in a field.

A field planter equipped with 24 robots can plant 240 corn seeds per second, which amounts to a single machine planting 34 million seeds in a single day.

Kovar explained that when a farmer is planting seeds a sensor will register when each individual seed is going into the ground. The robotics will spray only the amount of fertiliser needed, which is about two-tenths of a millilitre, directly onto the seed at the exact moment it goes into the soil.

“The speed, synchronisation and precision at which this is happening in the field was previously unfeasible,” she stated. “Fertiliser accounts for a large portion of total greenhouse gas emissions. That means ExactShot can have an immediate, measurable impact on our environment today.”

ExactShot could save more than 93 million gallons of starter fertiliser annually while also preventing excess amounts from running off of a field and into a waterway.

It will be available in limited quantities starting next year.

Kovar and John Deere Chair and CEO John May stressed during their keynote address that changing weather patterns, a limited labour pool, rising costs, water shortages and decreasing acreage is making it more difficult for farmers to grow the world’s food supply.

With the global population expected to grow from 8 billion to nearly 10 billion by 2050, farmers need to increase production by 60 per cent to 70 per cent on the current arable land.

The company, which introduced a line of autonomous tractors at last year’s CES event, has integrated GPS, machine learning, cloud computing and computer vision across its agriculture and construction equipment in order to make them more productive and cost-efficient.