AGCO experts discuss real-world benefits of precision farming solutions.
By Des Keller
You can already use AGCOMMAND™, AGCO’s innovative telemetry application, on your desktop computer to help keep track of machine location, performance and efficiency. Now you can take the app along with you on your iPhone or iPad and make crucial decisions in the field.
The mobile app helps you monitor any machine already equipped with AGCOMMAND, and includes some new features:
- Radar to show weather conditions where your machines are located
- Turn-by-turn directions to machines from your current location
- History of machine status and machine data
- Ability to compare the performance of multiple machines
Users can also set audible alerts for parameters, like grain loss on a combine, oil pressure or when a machine leaves an assigned geographic area. Though the mobile app is only available for the iPhone and iPad now, “once we’re established, we’ll work toward other platforms, such as Droid,” says Dave Swain of AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions.
A few years ago a PrecisionAg Institute survey found that farmers and farm businesses who adopted techniques such as yield mapping and variable-rate applications, improved their operations 80% of the time.
Now, even newer technologies, such as telemetry-based systems that monitor equipment location and performance, promise even greater productivity. Add the latest generation of high-tech tools that combine and analyze data from multiple systems, and problems become all the easier to define and correct. The systems can even be installed after-market.
Steve Tupa, an AGCO business development specialist based in central Minnesota, likes to use the example of a customer there with a 200-acre field. Using FieldStar II yield maps that merged the results for both corn and soybeans over several years, the farmer was able to pinpoint exactly the acres within the field with chronically low yields.
That information, combined with soil test data, demonstrated the low yields “had nothing to do with fertility,” says Tupa. As a result, inspection of that area revealed there were drainage and soil compaction issues that were fixable—resulting in better yields.
New precision agriculture systems can also make the use of farm equipment itself more efficient. For instance, AGCO’s AGCOMMAND is a telemetry system that transmits machinery data via cell phone to the Internet to help monitor productivity and equipment performance, and schedule maintenance.
Says Technical Marketing Specialist David Swain, such a program “allows a farm manager to see who’s doing what, where, at any given time. It allows farms and farm-related businesses to operate more efficiently, saving them money, even increase incremental revenue.”
Now, says Swain, the Advanced version of AGCOMMAND is set to be released this fall. “It will allow remote monitoring of up to 25 control area network (CAN) measurements, as opposed to the 3 to 4 allowed by the current Standard Plus version. In addition to speed and engine hours, it will allow the remote monitoring of fuel usage, oil pressure and temperature, even grain loss.” Among other improvements, the Advanced version will send data to the web server every 10 minutes, compared to every 15 minutes for the Standard Plus.
“AGCOMMAND Advanced will basically transmit most of the functions that you can monitor on the tractor to the office or farm manager,” continues Swain. “It will allow even more control to better manage your people, logistics and equipment.”
AGCOMMAND: Equipment location and performance monitoring. Transmits data, such as engine status, vehicle location and hours of operation, in near real time via GSM cell phone modem or an easy-to-use website.
FieldStar II: Yield mapping and analysis. Data can be exported in a simple file format and used with a variety of software—such as SGIS.
System 150: Auto-steering tool. Working with steering-ready equipment, uses GNSS satellite navigation and guidance.
AES-25: A new aftermarket auto-steering system. Fits a wide range of farm equipment and works in conjunction with System 150.
ISOBUS Standard: Precision farming systems from AGCO and its partners are ISOBUS compliant/compatible, allowing a wider ranger of expandability and future enhancements.