In-Cab Computing Expands

Trimble EZ-Guide 250

Cabs have become busy places thanks to progressive displays and computers. With their help, operators are getting more precise at putting inputs down in the right place at the right time. “For instance, our GreenStar 2 System allows for automatic or manual guidance, GPS on-off (or sectional) control, as applied maps, and variable-rate applications,” describes Kayla Reynolds, product marketing manager at John Deere. “Our displays can read a compact flash card with field-specific prescription files on it that the operator has created to direct the machine to output target amounts of seed or fertilizer.”

In fact, computer/controller technology has evolved to where a display like one with the GreenStar 2 can now direct seed, liquid, and gas applications with the GreenStar 2 Rate Controller.

Ryan Molitor, marketing supervisor at Raven Industries, says, “Today an operator wants one field computer that will do everything. They don’t want three monitors to have to keep an eye on, and our systems allow them to do that.” Raven’s Viper Pro and Envizio Pro handle data logging, application rate, mapping, weather, and more.

Simpler products can also get into electronic tasks. The Leica AS7500 auto section controller for sprayers and planters is “an extremely affordable and easy-to-use system that provides immediate cost savings to our customers,” says Christina Roth, marketing and communications manager. And the new Leica iNEX, compatible with most GPS receivers and rate controllers, handles guidance and mapping to start with.

“Single product variable-rate technology-capable, Trimble’s AgGPS EZ-Guide 500 Lightbar guidance system is also compatible with automatic boom section and rate control with EZ Boom,” says Rob Lindores, Trimble agriculture director of marketing. As with many systems, the display can also connect to an assisted or automated steering product.

While Topcon’s System 110 GPS lightbar guidance product has a simple on-screen setup, it can generate automatic coverage mapping and add AutoSection Control for up to 10 sections.

TeeJet Technologies has added boom section control to its flagship CenterLine 220 guidance product — in the form of the CenterLine 230BP. Boom section control is built into the 230BP console so users simply connect the appropriate SmartCable to interface with a rig’s existing spray controller.

Tracking Data

Cab computers have been expanding in another direction as well. “What in-cab computing is focusing on now is to allow the operator to more easily enter more data and more valuable information directly at the source or at the time the application or operation is completed,” says Wade Stewart, field marketing manager with AutoFarm. “We’ve found over the years that operators are not very good at data management when it requires them to sit right down at a computer after 18 hours on a machine.” Indeed, both a delay in data entry and the time the data is entered have a major impact on the quality of the data recorded for future analysis, he says.

Manufacturers are designing displays/computers with data in mind. For instance, Hemisphere GPS’s new Outback Sts offers simplified job management and USB data transfer so that applicators can adopt improved, more consistent recordkeeping practices, says Jeff Farrar, channel marketing manager, Hemisphere GPS.

Trimble’s AgGPS EZ-Guide 250 Lightbar allows users to transfer the day’s coverage maps to a computer using a USB flash drive to easily print out coverage maps, says Lindores.

Manufacturers have found that drivers are calling for a number of features:

User-friendliness. AutoFarm’s Stewart sees in-cab work becoming even more user-friendly. “We think the ultimate goal is for the operator to be able to type in very minimal information and field notes directly from the cab.” And other key information — such as restricted-use chemical background, seed descriptions, or equipment data would be filled in automatically and transferred to the computer with little or no additional input. Bottom line: “The ultimate goal is higher quality data with no additional input from the operator,” Stewart says.

Says Trimble’s Lindores: “The ‘computing’ to accomplish complex tasks in the field should be virtually unnoticeable to the user. So he simply chooses from a menu of options on guidance, variable-rate application, autoboom shut-off, or any other task.” In fact, driver prep work before heading to the field in some cases is minimal. Lindores says Trimble’s current in-cab interface is so intuitive that users don’t need a user manual. “You just use the touch screen to tell the controller what you want to do in the field and it does it.”

Compatibility. Dealer applicators are also concerned about compatibility among manufacturers’ systems. For instance, Stewart explains that the AutoFarm’s systems are designed to work with a number of field computer systems. In addition, the data from all the AutoFarm products is designed to be shared across multiple product formats. “In some cases, the data may need to be modified in a software package before it can be used in a competitive system, but that is the case with many systems on the market today,” he points out.

Wireless capabilities. “There’s increasing need for more machine-to-office automation, just the ability to transfer information wirelessly,” says Reynolds. Use of this technology could be especially valuable in last-minute jobs where a customer calls for an application and a dealer sees a rig right in the area, complete with tender access. “You could send the prescription to that operator wirelessly,” she says. “It just enables communication back and forth between the applicator and the home office, trying to keep track of what all those folks are doing.”

Raven’s Molitor says an office team could observe different vehicles, send and receive files between them — and then get that information to the customer as soon as the field is done. Raven recently launched a major pilot program with several operators to “show and tell” recently enhanced wireless capabilities on Raven field computers.

Trimble is taking great interest in telemetry, where farm machinery can be managed remotely via wireless communication and the Internet, says Lindores. “Trimble calls this concept ‘The Connected Farm.’ Stay tuned for some updates on that later this year.”

This spring, Topcon brought its remote asset management product, Topcon Tierra, to the precision agriculture stage by teaming with AGCO.

Updates. As manufacturers and programmers hear about customer concerns and demands, you can be sure they are making changes. This past year, AutoFarm made several updates to its FarmPRO GPS Steering & Application Control System — as well as issuing several updates to its A5 or RTK AutoSteer system.

Cost control. Costs depend on how much a field computer is doing for you. Molitor sees a computer itself running below $5,000 — but then an operator has the cost of variable-rate software, section and height control, a wireless field hub, weather station, and other equipment. “But these systems are easily scalable, so someone may just start off with the field computer and section control. This would give them all the data logging, application control, and automatic section control,” he says.

Leave a Reply

Software Stories

SoftwareBlending Software To Address Every Need Of Ag Retail
March 3, 2014
This year’s packages cover more facets of dealer businesses than ever. Read More
SoftwareNew Crop Scouting App Now Available For Ag Retailers
September 3, 2013
AgraScout is a data management and communications tool used by retailers, consultants, and others to track and report conditions in a particular farm location. Read More
SoftwareWinfield Launches New Mapping Capabilities For R7 Tool
August 29, 2013
Winfield has announced the addition of a Field Response Map and a Profitability Map for its R7 Tool at 2013 Farm Progress Show. Read More
SoftwareTrimble Launches Connected Farm Dashboard
August 29, 2013
The company claims its new dashboard enables better decision making by putting key data at growers’ fingertips. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More