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

SoftwareHD Precision Analytics Launches New Mobile App For Agriculture Market
October 11, 2016
AGSentry from HD Precision Analytics is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that offers simple data service and actionable analytics tool. It focuses Read More
EquipmentDTN Launches Ag Retailer Focused Data Management Program
April 5, 2016
As farm data multiplies exponentially, ag retailers need help leveraging the power of big data to better serve their customers Read More
Junge Control Panels
SoftwarePlant Automation Takes Traceability To The Next Level
March 8, 2016
What began as a way to simply vary differing fertility products at different rates to create custom fertilizer blends — Read More
Tiger Sul Crop Nutrient Calculator
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launches New Nutrient Calculator App
November 12, 2015
H.J. Baker, a global agriculture firm, has launched a new agronomic nutrient calculator app. This innovative and powerful tool will Read More
Trending Articles
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
AGCO RG700 cab
OpinionRoadblocks To Precision Ag Innovation
October 5, 2016
On August 29, I got to preside over the PrecisionAg Innovation Series event, “Game-Changing Advances in Precision Farming Technology,” developed Read More
J.C. Ramsdell containment system
EquipmentClear Opportunity In The Tank Market
October 4, 2016
Crop prices may be down, but steel prices are too — and that’s good news for retailers looking to add some Read More
WinField booth Farm Progress
Special ReportsTalking Weed Management Strategies At Farm Progress 2016
October 2, 2016
The annual Farm Progress Show — this year staged in Boone, IA — is always a great place to catch Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Latest News
Patriot 25th anniversary
SprayersCase IH Celebrates 25 Years Of Patriot Sprayers At Bens…
October 24, 2016
Case IH executives, employees and special guests celebrated 25 years of production of Case IH Patriot sprayers in a special Read More
4r Nutrient stewardship
StewardshipNominations For The 4R Advocate Program Due October 31
October 24, 2016
Nominations for the 4R Advocate program are due to The Fertilizer Institute by October 31, 2016. The program recognizes agricultural Read More
Corn close up
Eric SfiligojProtecting Agriculture’s Ability To Feed The World
October 24, 2016
The rate of change coming to agriculture is growing, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This Read More
Student Young Worker CHS
CropLife 100CHS Supports #FirstJob Compact
October 24, 2016
CHS joins the White House and many of the country’s largest employers in signing a new initiative centered on helping Read More
Kennebec Grain terminal
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Kennebec Facility Loads First Rail Cars
October 21, 2016
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans Read More
ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting…
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesFMC Begins Registration Process For New Fungicide Activ…
October 19, 2016
FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint U.S. EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new Read More
Soil Young Corn
Industry NewsAgribusiness Search Firm Appoints New Managing Partner
October 18, 2016
Morris Bixby Group, a leading agribusiness search firm providing the highest quality professional recruiting and career advancement services since 2000, Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
FertilizerUnited Suppliers Acquires Kansas Fertilizer Business
October 17, 2016
United Suppliers, Inc. has purchased the assets of Evans Enterprises, LLC, an ammonium chloride fertilizer business based in Olathe, KS. Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsFMC Launches New Operations In Argentina, Exits Joint V…
October 17, 2016
FMC Corp. has exited its joint venture with Ruralco Soluciones S.A. FMC has launched new commercial operations, FMC Quimica S.A., Read More
Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sul…
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Whys Of Agriculture
October 17, 2016
During 2016, there have been myriad challenges facing the whole agricultural industry. Such wide ranging issues as water protection, sustainable Read More
Young Corn Field
FertilizerImproved Phosphorus Management Essential To Feeding Wor…
October 14, 2016
With a global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, improved management of key essential nutrients such as Read More
ManagementHarvest and Crop Price Updates; EPA and Crop Protection…
October 13, 2016
Glyphosate and atrazine get public comment support from ARA as each is reviewed by EPA, and the latest on the Read More
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Adds Two Key Account Managers
October 13, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of two key account managers: Doug Hoberty and Rob Wier. Hoberty and Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Development Deal with Scherer Design
October 12, 2016
Deere & Co. announces a joint development agreement with Scherer Design Engineering, Inc. to develop and commercialize kernel processing solutions Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Celebrates 10 Years Of Innovati…
October 12, 2016
Richard Rominger, former Deputy Secretary of the USDA and former agricultural secretary of California, emceed a 10th anniversary luncheon celebration on Read More