This week I, along with several of my media brethren, travelled to Ames, IA, to get the scoop on what’s happening at Ag Leader Technology in the wake of the announcement of its alliance with RTK technology specialist AutoFarm.
We met at Ag Leader’s newly minted training center, where it was preparing to gather its dealers for a three day immersion in new products and strategies in the wake of this new business arrangement.
We got to see first-hand some of the products that have been released in recent weeks (click here for the story we ran on the new product releases), and also got a little taste of the future potential of wireless communication in precision with the introduction of AutoFarm’s Central Business System (CBS).
The CBS program is a website that is designed to allow reseller/dealer to have two-way, wireless interactions with grower customers through technology that is integrated into the ParaDyme precision farming system. ParaDyme was jointly released by AutoFarm and Ag Leader last month (story here).
Two initial services were announced at the meeting. The first, Remote Service, provides real-time equipment support in the field for the end user. By touching the “Call Support” button on the controller touchscreen, the equipment dealer is contacted and can resolve the problem either by phoning the end-user, or by directly accessing the equipment remotely in real time.
The second, RTK ReadyConnect, provides RTK corrections by cell phone and offered in monthly packages, giving end users working in CORS serviced areas a new option for accessing the signal.
The big difference with AutoFarm’s CBS offering is that it offers a fully integrated and turnkey activated cellular solution. AutoFarm has centralized the service more than 50 wireless partners across North America, and handles the entire activation process to eliminate separate cell plans, equipment compatibility problems, and multiple contracts.
It is certainly more convenient and seamless than anything else out there, but it is also more costly: the monthly fee for this service that was discussed at the meeting was $400. However, the plan can be activated for 30 days at a time as needed, so a customer can choose to only have it on during field intensive times of the year if desired.
It’s an intriguing offering, but would it be a good match for you for the price? Please feel free to weigh in using the comment box below.