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John Deere's high-tech, self-driving tractors (pictures)

The machines feature everything from auto-steering capabilities to apps that tell farmers what's going on in their fields.

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Shara Tibken
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1 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

John Deere green

John Deere is one machinery maker who has been building auto-steering technology into its tractors and combine harvesters since the 1990s.

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2 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Stay in line

The tractors use GPS to automatically steer through fields. Some planters have technology that automatically turns them off when they reach the edges.

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3 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Hands off

Because the tractor steers itself, farmers can take their hands off the wheel in the field.

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4 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Wide wingspan

Machines like planters for seeds have gotten much bigger, making it harder for farmers to make sure they're not overlapping the same area.

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5 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Watch out

Auto-steering technology makes the tractor much more accurate with staying in the rows than a farmer on his own. This sprayer has as width of 100 feet.

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6 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Mobile hotspot

John Deere tractors have yellow globes, called StarFire receivers, that sit on the machine and work as their own GPS links, making mapping more accurate.

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7 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Farming videogames?

Tractors and combines come with monitors that can show the progress of planting or harvest in the field, or in this case, show that the autosteering technology is staying on track.

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8 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

A big data problem

Farmers already get a lot of data from their tractors -- like yield, moisture levels and other factors. But many aren't really using the data to help them. Experts see data as the next big frontier to help agriculture.

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9 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Climb on up

Auto-steering technology and other features tend to come default in new tractors today.

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10 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Watch me now

Farms are getting bigger, but farmers don't always have more help to work the land. Technology like auto-steering makes them more efficient and lets them work longer hours.

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11 of 11 Shara Tibken/CNET

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

John Deere runs a test farm in the suburbs of Iowa's capitol of Des Moines. It's here the company makes sure its apps and other technology work correctly in the machinery.

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