Submitted by AGCO
AGCO’s approach to precision farming is driven by its Fuse technology brand of products and services.
A large part of the Fuse ecosystem strategy, according to Ben Craker, Product Manager Data Partnerships and Standards, is the company’s ‘two pipe’ approach for handling both machine telemetry data as well as the all-important agronomic data coming off the combine. This two pipe approach is possible through AGCO’s partnership model.
“It’s exclusive to us in the industry, that we split the data coming off the machine into two different paths. The data is actually handled very differently between those two different areas of focus,” he explains.
Released in 2009, AgCommand is AGCO’s telemetry product that collects real-time telemetry data Craker explains. “Where is my machine and how is it performing? Does it have any issues?’ — You can ping it and within seconds you can see where it is and what it is actually doing in the field. We refer to that as our machine data pipe because it doesn’t log data at as high a rate, but it is real-time information.”
With a new version of the system starting to roll out, AGCO is always looking for more partners to engage and help demonstrate the value of interconnectedness. The AgCommand API was officially announced this past summer at Farm Progress Show, opening the system up to approved third-party developers such as Trimble’s Connected Farm.
“We originally saw a lower than expected adoption rate — what we learned is many farmers don’t have time to sit around and look at a website to see where their machines are,” explains Craker. “Some might program in a few automated text messages such as getting notified when a tractor’s fuel falls below 10% to reduce downtime, but tasks like analyzing machine performance and optimum settings for fuel consumption are tasks farmers generally do not have time to do.”
This is where AGCO’s recently announced Fuse Connected Services comes in; AgCommand and other dealer tools allow the equipment dealer to leverage its deep knowledge of the machines and operational expertise to take on this task and help farmers optimize the equipment on their farms.
The AgCommand data “pipe” requires AGCO customers to opt-in to share the data streaming off the machine with AGCO and their dealer to enable services, but retain the ability to then opt-out at any time down the road.
“We ask the customers whether they are willing to share that information with us, because it obviously has a lot of value to both AGCO and the dealer. The dealer can use the data to monitor service intervals and the performance of the machine. The next time a customer comes in to buy a new machine, the history can be reviewed to make the best buying decision.”
For the AGCO dealer, having insight into data enables the dealer to take a lead role in providing maintenance and ensuring uptime, instead of expecting the farmer to do that.
From its viewpoint as a manufacturer, AGCO itself also has an interest in data, as the information can help the company in developing new solutions and monitoring the overall health of machines in the field.
The Other Data Pipe
The second data pipe is the agronomic data, which Craker likens to a grower’s “secret sauce.”
“The agronomic data is all of their task files, including as-planted and as-applied records, yield files, and anything you set up in the terminal to record a job as task data. This is generally more sensitive to farmers,” he explains. “We recognize growers want and need a high degree of choice and privacy with how their data is handled, which is why we are really hands-off with this data.”
The agronomic pipe got its start on the Fendt equipment line via AGCO’s on-board documentation and data transfer product, VarioDoc, in 2010.
“We send agronomic data through our products VarioDoc and Task Doc, as well as the recently announced mobile app called Go-Task, which enable wireless transfer of task files so growers can avoid having to plug in a USB stick and remember to take it with them. Wireless transfer streamlines the whole process and mitigates the risk of lost data.”
“These products also create a direct link between the machine and the grower’s software platform of choice,” he continues. “This link is contracted out to a third-party server so we have no access to data in this pipe at all – it works almost like an email exchange server – once the data leaves the machine terminal it sits on that server until the grower’s FMIS (Farm Management Information System) pulls it off that server, and then it’s deleted every step of the way, so AGCO doesn’t hold it or aggregate it or analyze it or anything; we’re just facilitating the transfer.”
AGCO is in the midst of discussions with most major FMIS providers in North America and Europe with expected announcements to come later in the year. Simply facilitating wireless transfer of agronomic data is a key pillar of AGCO’s Fuse strategy, as evidenced by its inclusion in the recent Ag Data Coalition announced at Commodity Classic. AGCO’s participation in AgGateway is another initiative that supports its data management philosophy as well.
“We are active leaders in industry organizations like AgGateway which work to standardize data formats and API connections among other things because right now every connection is a little bit different,” Craker says. “When data becomes more standardized it will be a lot easier for growers and ag service providers because the API will be built. Developers then just have to enable access to it. Collaborations like AgGateway’s open source project ADAPT will really help speed up that process.”
Hardware partnerships on the guidance side of things also make up an important aspect of AGCO’s Fuse ecosystem.
“We’ve announced a new system where you can select which GPS receiver you get from the factory – whether it is a Topcon, Trimble or NovAtel receiver,” explains Craker. “That flexibility is a big deal for anyone using guidance systems.”
Connecting with sensors, such as NDVI or multi-spectrum drones or other aerial imagery providers is yet another area the Fuse strategy is currently driving.
AGCO calls this collaboration model the ‘open approach to precision farming.’
“We are laser focused on building the best machine we can, not trying to be everything to everyone,” says Craker. That’s why AGCO is building an open architecture and joining forces with others in the industry and setting defined ways of connecting in to new technologies. It’s all about constantly expanding our network and thereby creating more and more choices for growers to farm the way they want.”