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

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More