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Podcast Ep. 127: John Deere's CommandPro

24 Sep 2020  •  Tony Kramer

What is CommandPro?

CommandPro is an ergonomic joystick option in the new IVT tractors.

What that means is that CommandPro is not a new transmission. It is a new way to control the current transmission that we already have.

While it’s a fairly new – and unique way – to control a tractor, it’s already proving to be beneficial for customers.

Tune in and listen to the advantages of the CommandPro joystick – and how it might be beneficial in your tractor.

Missed an episode? Get caught up by visiting the Episode Archive.


Each month, we share the latest in agriculture technology. Don’t miss an episode by subscribing to our podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Have a story idea or a precision ag topic we should highlight? Connect with us on social media:  Instagram | Facebook |  YouTube |  Twitter and connect with podcast host, Tony Kramer on Twitter at: @RDOTonyK.



Catch the full transcript of Episode 127 here:

Tony: Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 127. Today, we are going to be talking about CommandPro.

I'm very excited to welcome Nathan Wright to the show. He is a product specialist with RDO Equipment Company. Thanks for joining us on the show today, Nathan. To get started, let's hear a little bit more about you and your background and how you got involved in this industry.

Nathan Wright: Hi, Tony. I'm glad to be on the show today. My name is Nathan Wright. I am a product specialist at RDO Equipment Company. A little bit about my background-- I grew up on a small town farm in South Dakota. We do corn, soybeans, alfalfa. We raised cow calf pairs. I graduated from South Dakota State University. I went to school for agriculture systems technology, and after that, I got hired as a product specialist here at RDO Equipment Co.

Tony: Great. Let's talk a little bit about CommandPro. Not very long back, you had done an internal training for us here and within the organization about CommandPro and what it is. To get started, Nathan, let's just talk, what is CommandPro?

Nathan: CommandPro is a joystick option in the new IVT tractors. What that means is that CommandPro is not a new transmission. It is a new way to control the current transmission that we already have. With that, it has a unique shift gate pattern. It looks like an H, so there's forward and backwards on the right-hand side and forward and backwards on the left-hand side.

There's a safety activation button on the bottom of the joystick. We press and hold that in, push the joystick forward to go forward, push the button in, hold the joystick backwards to go backwards. What is unique about this is when we shift to the left-hand side, if we move the joystick all the way to the left and push it forward, we have what is called our inching control feature. We can inch forward and/or reverse at slow speeds to hook up to implements or to drive forward at a slow speed, maybe in a front-mounted snowblower application.

Tony: You talked about-- One of the things I think is a real hitting point to bring home is, this is not a new transmission. A lot of people think that-- They hear CommandPro, the John Deere CommandPro, they think it's a new transmission, but it's not, correct?

Nathan: Correct. It is not a new transmission. It is a new way to control the current transmission that we already have.

Tony: You have your standard IVT controls or you can get that same IVT transmission, but with CommandPro controls.

Nathan: Yes. This is an option that you can add, not a new transmission.

Tony: That's actually a question I was going to ask. This is an option, so it does not come standard in any of the machines it’s compatible with, but it is an option to add to IVTs.

Nathan: Yes. When you are looking at this tractor, it is a cab option, so it would be the joystick with the CommandPro.

Tony: What kind of tractors is it compatible with? Along the portfolio of John Deere tractors, which of those tractors can we put CommandPro in?

Nathan: For the coming year, it will be available in 6Rs, 7Rs, 8Rs, 8RXs and 8RTs.

Tony: Your main meat and potato tractors that are going to be utilized a lot out there is what's going to be compatible with the CommandPro. One of the questions that I have is, a lot of guys here in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, they love that IVT transmission. You got that creeper functionality, and you got that infinitely variable adjustment. You also get that with the CommandPro, just a different way to control it. What are some of the useful applications that a CommandPro control might come in handy?

Nathan: For with CommandPro, it is your standard IVT. What is cool about the new joystick, it has 11 configurable controls on it. It has on the commands for joystick, you'll see A, B, C, D, E, and then there's one, two, three, four, five, six. You can configure them to do any action you want. You'll have any action the tractor can do at your fingertips all the time, and that is the whole point. It's to make an ergonomic joystick that you don't have to move your hands around to do something up and down or any control that you're looking for.

That's the nice thing about this joystick. With these 11 configurable controls, we can save each configuration. If you have the joysticks set up to run your planner, baler, hay cutter, loader, every time you get in the tractor, you can select that profile, so we don't have to be changing every single time you switch, and you can also switch per operator. If you, your son, your dad-- You each can have your own profile on how that tractor runs and operates.

Tony: That's actually a really handy feature. When you have other people jumping into the cab of the tractor, each operator can set it up, configure it how they want to run the planter or the baler or the beet lifter or whatever it may be. That's a really neat function for this. You also mentioned that it can all be saved based on application as well, correct?

Nathan: Yes. That is the nice part is we can save it. If somebody hops on the tractor and changes something, and you can't remember what you had set, you can go into your saved configuration and switch it back to the way that you ran that piece of equipment.

Tony: When you say 11 different controls or 11 customizable functions, you're talking everything from SCVs to front hitch, rear hitch, to pretty much anything the tractor can do, correct?

Nathan: Yes. Any control on the tractor that's a button or a switch can be put on the CommandPro joystick.

Tony: I really like the idea of this CommandPro and it reminds me of an old school video game joystick to where everything is at your hands, at your controls, at your fingertips. You think about all of the functions that we're doing, whether it be a planter or a MoCo or a baler or, here in the Red River Valley and Southern Minnesota, where I grew up, beet lifters-- I think this is going to be a really neat way to control a tractor as far as beet lifters go.

There's just so many good, useful functions for the CommandPro control. The CommandPro control hasn't been out for very long. It's brand new. It's coming out on the new model year '20 tractors and moving forward. We haven't had it out there very long, but is there any sort of a success story that you could share with the listeners, Nathan, that was an eye-opener to either us within the company or maybe a customer that might be interested in it?

Nathan: We did get a couple ordered in, and we did get one sold to a customer. Obviously, the first thing is learning how to drive it. Us, as dealers, we got to be experienced with it, learn how to drive it, and then we got to teach a customer how to run it. They were very, very happy with it. Their main feature is putting a front-mounted snowblower, so they can have-- With that inching forward control, you can go all the way down to 0.20 miles per hour, so they can just drive nice and slow into the snow to blow snow. That was their big selling factor, and that's what they really liked about the tractor.

Tony: You actually bring up a really good point there. It is going be a little bit of a learning curve. It's not your standard way to control a tractor. It's a very unique way to control a tractor, but I'm really excited about it. Like I said, a planter or a beet lifter-- I'm just super excited to get in a beet lifter this fall here with a tractor that has CommandPro.

I know in hanging conditions, if you're pulling a MoCo, triple-mount MoCo's, balers, things like that, or snowblowers-- Up here in Minnesota and the Dakotas, we get snow. Being able to put a front-mounted snowblower on and control the shoot and everything else right from your fingertips, right on the joystick, I think is going to be a very beneficial feature and a great way to control that tractor. Now, if somebody is interested in learning more about CommandPro, where can they go? Who can they talk to get some information?

Nathan: The best source of information would be to get ahold of your local RDO dealer and talk to a product specialist about it. Other ways you could find out is your local John Deere dealer or if-- There is a lot of YouTube videos on the John Deere YouTube site that will go over the features of the CommandPro transmission.

Tony: Great. I just want to thank you, Nathan, for taking the time to sit down with me for a few minutes here and chat about the CommandPro joystick and just talking about some unique ways or some unique features about it. Maybe, we'll get some more out there as time goes on. Thanks again for doing this, Nathan.

Tony Kramer

Tony Kramer is the Product Manager of Planting Technology and a Certified Crop Advisor at RDO Equipment Co. He is also the host of the Agriculture Technology podcast. If you have any questions for Tony or would like to be a guest on the podcast, you can find him on X at @RDOTonyK.

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