With ag equipment manufacturers continuing the ever ongoing battle for the Holy Grail that is market share, in-cab computing companies are going the opposite route: making sure displays both fit across a wide variety of equipment and feature a growing array of sophisticated capabilities. The more capable and universal the machine, the current thinking goes, the better chance of getting it into an applicator’s rig and into a customer’s field.
Take Ag Leader, for example. Although the Iowa-based company isn’t launching any new display systems for this season, it continues to see widespread adoption of its flagship display, the Ag Leader Integra. According to Luke James, software sales manager, there are a couple of capabilities that allow it to shine.
“Two of the big things we continue to stress with Integra are the ability to integrate the display with our OptRx crop health sensors for variable rate nitrogen and on-the-go fertilizer recommendations, as well as the ability to generate what we call a ‘smart report’ after each job,” he says.
The smart reports — which are automatically generated .PDF files summarizing all measurable aspects of an application job (temperature, wind speed, amount and type of product and number of acres applied, etc.) — are automatically transferred onto a USB drive at the conclusion of a job and can be given to the grower-customer or any other interested party for record keeping.
Integra also boasts the ability to link into NORAC boom height control systems, as well as assisted and integrated steering options, and has an integrated lightbar.
Additionally, if the applicator using the display is a subscriber to Ag Leader’s recently released wireless data transfer service, AgFiniti, all data logged can be wirelessly transferred directly from the cab to the end recipient.
“AgFiniti has a bring-your-own-hotspot mentality where we let the customer choose whatever wireless internet source best fits them,” adds James. “You can utilize an existing data plan, or add a hotspot device or use the wireless WiFi network back at the office.”
Another key feature with AgFiniti is the remote support subscribers enjoy. “Our technical support guys, most of which come from farming backgrounds, are, in my opinion, second-to-none in the industry,” says James. “They can log right into that display anywhere in the world and troubleshoot any issues the user may be going through.”
Over at Case IH’s precision ag brand, Advanced Farming Systems (AFS), the Wisconsin-based manufacturer is integrating its latest display, the Pro 700, throughout the Case IH product line.
Within its award-winning Patriot sprayer line, the 700 boasts AccuGuide guidance capabilities coupled with AccuBoom section control, AutoBoom boom height control, as well as both variable rate and manual rate control, says Emily Treu, AFS marketing specialist. Yield mapping and monitoring are also reportedly part of the Pro 700 package.
“One of the top things we are hearing is that users like the flexibility of the display,” she says. “An operator can take the Pro 700 from their Magnum tractor in the spring, move it into the sprayer in the summer and then transfer it to the combine in the fall.”
AFS is also emphasizing the display’s data capturing capabilities and its open architecture. “At Case IH we take a producer-first approach to data: producers own the data so they should be able to use it as they see fit,” says Treu. “With Pro 700 you insert a USB drive and take all of your as-applied data and soil maps and move it into the AFS software suite, where the data can be tied to an intrinsic dollar value for the producer.
“Additionally, the fact that the Pro 700 meets the current ISOBUS standard in the market is important for users that want to continue working with other technology platforms that have served them well,” she adds.
Over at Raven Industries, the Applied Technology department is beaming after nabbing three 2014 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) AE50 Outstanding Innovations Awards, one of which singled out the Viper 4 field computer.
According to Ryan Molitor, marketing manager, the Viper 4’s high level of user interface customization is an important feature. Another is its ability to capture data in an efficient manner.
“The Viper 4 comes pre-loaded with SST’s agX database, and for custom applicators or ag retailers applying a large volume of acres that helps them tremendously to standardize their record keeping,” he says. “Another thing that we are hearing is that, yes it’s all about data management, but it’s also about capturing cleaner data and being efficient in that process, and Viper 4 does just that.”
Integration of Slingshot, Raven’s data management solution, as well as the Slingshot Application Programming Interface (API), is another selling point with ag retailers.
“Retailers typically already have a custom software solution that they’ve invested a lot of capital in, so Slingshot API is great because it lets one software system communicate with another,” says Molitor. “For example, one of our partners with API is SST Software, so Slingshot API can integrate seamlessly for that retailer that’s been running SST’s Summit program. We don’t want to hinder the data collection process by having to go between two different systems: everything’s integrated.”
Going forward, Molitor advises that more API integrations are in the works.