The Compatibility Question

Todd Peterson has spent a lot of time working with precision products and practices at Pioneer Hi-Bred, and has occasionally dropped me a note when something we publish hits a chord. I wrote in my most recent blog from the Commodity Classic tradeshow that the cost of inputs across the board will challenge growers and their advisers as they plan for 2008. Todd wrote, “I agree; farmers are struggling to re-evaluate their management in this new era of commodity and input prices.”

Best use of precision agriculture technology is certainly a part of that, and Todd asked me if I’d be interested in running a column he recently put together for Pioneer’s magazine, Growing Point. Especially recently, I’ve observed greater collaboration and partnering among precision manufacturers. But I agree with Todd that precision agriculture technology must move more rapidly down the path of compatibility to help growers manage the farm more effectively.

Here is Todd’s opinion piece on the matter:


Why Can’t My Precision Farming Tools Talk To Each Other?
Precision farming technology has been around since the early 1990s, yet we’re still dealing with some of the same frustrations we had back then. It should be easier to collect and share data among different brands and models of yield-mapping systems and field-operation controllers. I believe growers buying and using precision farming technology should demand more from providers of these tools.

We often buy electronics with more functionality than we want or need. Your cell phone or television video recorder probably has features you don’t use simply because it takes too much effort to figure them out.

Precision farming hardware and software has developed along the same lines: High-tech power users continue to demand more functions while average customers are frustrated by the increased complexity of each new system.

First, precision farming technology should be easier to use. Most farmers want a transportable system with a simple user interface that will map yields, control and record field operations, and integrate with GPS-assisted guidance or steering. This could and should be accomplished using standard off-the shelf components and operation systems, and a simple user interface across devices.

Singing the same tune
Apple Inc. has sold more than 120 million iPod devices, not because they’re better or cheaper or have more features than other digital content players (they don’t). The iPods sell because of great user-friendly interfaces on both the device and the controlling software. Yield mapping systems should be as simple.

Precision farming devices also should be more portable and functional across a range of applications. Most growers want to use the controller for roughly the same list of basic functions: logging tillage, planting, input applications and harvest data.

They should be able to connect to different tractors, applicators and combines with industry-standard electronic connectors for power and GPS signals — or they should be capable of using Bluetooth- type interfaces for wireless connectivity within whatever cab it resides.

Each cell phone and television video recorder has a different menu structure and user manual, even among models within the same brand. Despite differences in technology and function, you can make a phone call to another brand of cell phone or watch a TV show on a different system than the one used to record it. This is because providers of these devices use and follow accepted industry standards.

Demand compatibility
We need a compatible format for capturing, storing and transferring a spatial record of a field operation.

For example, it should be easy to collect GPS as-planted data on where and when each field is planted, transfer the spatial record of where the herbicide-tolerant hybrids and varieties were planted, and export this information to the spray controller to prevent misapplication of herbicides.

Data compatibility will become even more important as we move toward more real-time wireless data transfer in which each tractor and combine become a node on the Internet.

I encourage growers to ask manufacturers of precision farming devices, not when will the new system will be able to do more, but when will it be smarter, be simpler to operate and be compatible with industry data exchange standards. Let’s resolve to make technology simple and easier to use.

As published in the January 2008 issue of the Pioneer GrowingPoint magazine

Leave a Reply

Business Management Stories
Farming at Sunset
Business ManagementAgtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome
September 6, 2017
Do you remember those cartoons where someone lures someone else by placing a piece of candy, small amount of money, Read More
Clay Mitchell
Business ManagementAg Tech Expert Clay Mitchell to Speak at Nebraska Community College
August 31, 2017
A fifth generation farmer and a leading investor in farmland and agricultural technologies will be bringing his message to Northeast Read More
Univ.-of-Illlinois-Palmer-in-soybean1
Business ManagementOpinion: How to Leverage Precision Agriculture to Launch Your Aggressive, High-Pressure Telemarketing Business
August 14, 2017
To continue where my last article left off (which you can check out here), a precision ag company that specializes Read More
Corn
Business ManagementCrop Pro Insurance Closes $8 Million in Series A Funding
August 8, 2017
Crop Pro Insurance today announced the close of an $8 million Series A round of financing co-led by top agriculture Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment for a More Sustainable Future
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementWhat Will Happen to My Data? Understanding Your Rights in Precision Agriculture
September 12, 2017
The use of precision agriculture-based decision making to determine fertilizer rates and hybrid types and planting rates is becoming more Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversBlue River, Deere Deal Will Accelerate Farm Robot Innovation
September 11, 2017
No, Blue River Co-founder and CEO Jorge Heraud has not been deposed — Gaddafi-style — by big, bad corporate overlord Read More
Farming at Sunset
Business ManagementAgtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome
September 6, 2017
Do you remember those cartoons where someone lures someone else by placing a piece of candy, small amount of money, Read More
AgQuip overview
Australia/New ZealandAgQuip 2017 Displays New Ag Technology in Australia
August 28, 2017
The annual AgQuip field days took place in Gunnedah, NSW on August 22-24. Being the largest agricultural field days in Read More
Latest News
Australian Harvest
Australia/New ZealandAustralia: Data Deal to Make Digital Information More A…
September 25, 2017
The announcement of a three-year collaboration between one of Australia’s most well-known agriculture technology providers, Precision Agriculture, and Federation University Read More
Mahindra-Photo-Money-Control
AsiaDrones for Soil Mapping? Mahindra Says Why Not
September 25, 2017
The Mumbai-based company is in talks with the Indian government seeking approval to make drones a part of farming methods, Read More
deepfield-robotics-bonirob
Robotics/Labor SaversDeepfield Robotics to Showcase Precision Agriculture Te…
September 22, 2017
Deepfield Robotics is preparing to showcase its robotics and automation technologies for the agriculture market at the Agrilevante event, in Read More
Kray Drone Application
DronesCrop Spraying Drone Manufacturer Kray Technologies Gets…
September 22, 2017
Chernovetskyi Investment Group (CIG) has reached an agreement on investment into Kray Technologies company, which manufactures Kray Protection industrial robotic Read More
Imagery/SensingPlanet Announces New Hi-Res Imagery Products
September 21, 2017
Since our acquisition of Terra Bella, and the SkySat constellation of seven satellites, we’ve been focused on making this high-resolution Read More
Systems ManagementBayer Dismisses Antitrust Concerns about Digital Farmin…
September 20, 2017
Bayer said it was unable to propose the sale of any digital farming assets to allay EU concerns about its Read More
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
Robotics Specialty Crops
EventsPrecision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
September 20, 2017
When John Deere acquired Blue River Technologies (BRT) recently, BRT’s See & Spray technology received plenty of play. Yet many Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSyngenta Helps Lead Efforts for Farm Management Softwar…
September 19, 2017
Ag data from tractors, combines, planters, and other farm machinery present a huge opportunity for growers to manage their operations Read More
Petra-Andren-Cicada-Innovations
Australia/New ZealandGrowLab’s Rocket Fuel for AgTech in Australia
September 19, 2017
Despite its superpower status as a producer and exporter of agricultural goods and services, up until now Australia has had Read More
CropIn-Team-Photo-credit-BW-Disrupt
AsiaCropIn Aims to be a Global Leader in AgTech Sector
September 19, 2017
Krishna Kumar created AgTech startup, CropIn Technology in 2010, along with co-founders Kunal Prasad and Chittranjan Jena. The trio went Read More
China-Beidou-Navigation-Satellite-System
AsiaChina’s Navigation System Gets Powerful Chip to I…
September 18, 2017
A new powerful chip technology has been introduced in China’s national satellite navigation system to provide high-precision positioning, according to Read More
Tablet Grower
Industry NewsFieldReveal Names Hesse New CEO
September 18, 2017
Matt Hesse has been selected as the Chief Executive Officer of FieldReveal, a newly launched joint venture formed to deliver Read More
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment…
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
Wheat sunrise
Australia/New ZealandSparkLabs Group Launches an Agricultural Tech Accelerat…
September 15, 2017
SparkLabs Group, which claims to be the largest startup accelerator group in Asia, is stepping into agricultural tech with a Read More
Sensors/IoTCollaboration Leverages Internet of Things, Sensors in …
September 15, 2017
The vision of having license-free community sensor networks for agricultural users has made a giant leap closer to reality. A Read More
Young Corn Field
Data ManagementPurdue Online Tool to Help Farmers Make Precision Decis…
September 14, 2017
An innovative online tool developed by a Purdue University engineering professor will allow farmers to process data collected from their Read More
forbes-agtech-summit
Precision IrrigationImproving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
September 13, 2017
I recently attended the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, CA, where roughly 50 start-up companies originating from Silicon Valley and Read More