MobileMachinery

The Networked Farm and the Value of Autonomy

By December 9, 2019 No Comments

Breaking down the tools and tech that make the next generation farm a reality.

Introduction

To find efficiency and improved profitability on the farm, there are rapidly developing technologies that can make the farm and the producer much more productive. How does the hard-working farmer make sense of it all and gain confidence that the path taken is a good one? This article speaks to the major tools and technologies enabling the networked farm and helps you determine ways to seize the opportunity.

Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS)

One area of development getting a lot attention today is FMIS and its evolving functionality, scope and intelligence. FMIS help producers:

  • manage and optimize the farm production activities and operations;
  • automate the recording and data storage;
  • facilitate monitoring and analysis of farm activities;
  • streamline production and work schedules; and
  • improve crop production and profit rates through access to analytics.

There are also significant advances in ag equipment with Main-Line companies integrating their products and FMIS. The full integration of all equipment with an open FMIS is the needed next step. One potential way to do this is through the continued development of ISOBUS.

ISOBUS and smart devices

ISOBUS was developed initially to provide a way to control multiple agricultural implements from a single display terminal in the tractor cab.

Since the definition of the ISOBUS standards in the 1990’s, use of the tool has gained momentum with tractor and implement manufacturers. Inclusion of the technology on tractors, however is not universal. Farmers will find though, a growing need to have ISOBUS to control newer implements.

Just as ISOBUS technology has become more common on new equipment, tablet and smartphone technology provides a new option for implement monitoring and control. This technology has been adopted across most industries. The wide use of tablet/smartphone technology has pushed these tools to a capability far exceeding the capability of built-in cab displays, at a much lower cost.

Products like JCA Electronics VIREO (www.VIREO-VT.com) is the evolution of the ISOBUS Universal Terminal to merge the benefits of ISOBUS compatibility for implement control with the technology benefits and FMIS that can be run on tablets.

Bringing it all together

To make this work the current players, including equipment manufacturers, dealers, agronomists, ag retailers, and the market must be closely tied in with the producer’s operation. There are critical and new roles to play by each, all guiding the producer in their tasks:

  1. The manufacturer: operation of equipment will be monitored and analyzed, taking on more responsibility for settings & adjustments and software updates;
  2. The dealer: will receive more in-field diagnostic information in real time and be responsible for keeping the equipment running;
  3. The agronomist: will get more timely information throughout the farming season remotely for improved analysis and recommendations;
  4. Ag retailers: will see consumption of their products in real time, helping ensure adequate supply; and
  5. Elevators/terminals/processors: will have pricing and needs visible and analyzed by the FMIS.

Connecting existing players in a more meaningful way and linking all aspects of the farm through the FMIS will provide higher level information for field operations and management. From whole-field hands-free operation to improved logistics, the FMIS maximizes the networked farm, creating the first steps on the way to full automation.

As this journey progresses, the farmer becomes more of an observer addressing exceptions. In the end, the farmer can step back from the equipment. Longer term this can create the autonomous farm.

Conclusion

For the future, farm equipment needs to be fully integrated with any FMIS for it to take major steps forward. The ability to tie in equipment monitoring and control (www.VIREO-VT.com) on the same device as your FMIS, brings quick synergies to your operation. Dynamic control of the equipment based off all valuable data, and enhanced partnerships will bring improved operation.