Inside Telemetry

Simply defined, it’s the transmitting of data via wireless communication links. The idea is to allow in-the-field equipment to transmit and receive data from a home base or another field communication unit.

For several years in the U.S., farm site weather stations and moisture monitors have used telemetry to transmit their data. “It provides users such as growers and co-ops with real-time information on what the weather is doing in a field,” says Rich Hilliker, regional sales manager, western region, Trimble. “It’s especially helpful in areas with very strange weather patterns.”

Telemetry is currently going strong in many parts of Europe. “Look at some of the systems where they’re monitoring combines,” says Mark Hansen, product marketing manager for advanced technology solutions for North America at AGCO. “They know exactly what the settings are on a particular machine at any given time.”

Levels Of Application

Several precision agriculture manufacturers are developing applications for wider U.S. markets, with equipment efficiency as a key driver. “In agriculture you’ve got this high vehicle population that effectively runs out in remote areas. And they need to run when they need to run — like in springtime, planting, or harvest — at extended hours,” says Mike Gomes, OEM accounts manager for Topcon Precision Agriculture.

Guidance system firms envision different levels of telemetry adoption. The first is simple fleet tracking and management, to collect very basic information about where machines are, explains Hansen. Higher-end systems would deliver information and log extensive data on what’s going on in a machine at any given time. Gomes sees today’s high-functioning cab guidance consoles as natural precursors for telematic use. So your rig becomes “not just a smart machine, but a smart machine that can talk,” he says.

Perhaps a dream come true for an applicator would be to have telematic capabilities on all equipment. “It would be great for a TerraGator driver — not just the fleet manager back at the plant — to know where your tenders are — to know how far away trucks are and when you can expect them,” Hansen describes.

Topcon is bringing its expertise from the construction equipment industry to bear on ag applications. In some cases, the company can use the same hardware, but different user interfaces and different remote monitoring, says Gomes. Topcon has beta projects out, extensively testing telemetry products, trying to make sure it’s offering solutions that customers want. (Topcon just introduced The Weather Station module for its X20 Guidance System, which measures apparent wind speed and direction, air temperature, and relative humidity — all data for downloading back at the office.)

Hansen says AGCO is deciding, in particular, how to address the “back office”end of the data generated by telematics. “We’re exploring if we’re going to develop this internally or look to best-in-class providers.”

One of AGCO’s goals is to make the data collection process much less intrusive in customers’ businesses. In a custom application business, for instance, “you can’t necessarily expect an employee to remember to log data off a machine at any given time. If you can automate the process for them, I think that will help the business quite a bit,” says Hansen. He believes AGCO will have something in production in the next 12 months to 18 months.

Trimble has already brought its telematics knowledge from other industries to bear with the introduction of its new Agriculture Manager asset management system in January. Hilliker says the product combines GPS, machine sensors, and automated wireless communications to allow growers to more efficiently manage and operate large machinery fleets with one system. “It can automatically notify fleet managers via cell phone if key events occur, such as vehicle servicing is required, a sprayer needs refilling, or an ignition is off.”

John Deere is at work on a new product to replace its JDLink Machine Messenger service, which had used telematics for five years to provide real-time information from tractors. The service was halted in February when the Federal Communications Commission allowed cellular operators (in this case, Verizon) to turn off analog services. Product Marketing Manager Loann Hausner says the new product — available within two years — will be able to report tractor location, fuel tank level, on/off/working status, current tractor settings, and much more.

Decide For Your Operation

One question dealers and growers will need to ask is if they have the infrastructure to support telemetry. “Cellular and WiFi give the ability to move large amounts of data economically,” says Hilliker. “Being able to use existing infrastructure eliminates the expense and hassle of building your own private radio networks,” he says.

While cellular technology has come a long way, some rural areas still lack reliable signals. “We’re a big old country with lots of gaps, and that’s going to be a bit of a challenge in the initial stages of telemetry products,” says Hansen.

Manufacturers don’t see price as a problem. Trimble’s Agriculture Manager costs $695 for hardware, plus a monthly subscription plan, which ranges from $24.95 to $49.95. Amy Wigginton, marketing communications manager, says options to purchase additional services such as two-way messaging (similar to text messaging) are available as well.

AGCO’s Hansen envisions “high hundreds to low thousands for a basic system, and a couple thousand, say $2,500, for high end solutions. And it’s like any other technology, those values will go down as the numbers go up.”

Leave a Reply

Systems Management Stories
Sensors
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil Sensors
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Google-Earth-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementRainfall Revisited: Accurate Observations and Beyond
September 18, 2018
As a provider of weather analysis and forecast services to the agricultural industry, one of the most common questions I Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Decision Support SoftwareWhy Are 570 Million Farmers Not Yet Using Agricultural Apps?
September 17, 2018
Until recently, using agricultural apps and software was a rare practice among growers. This is now changing. The mass adoption Read More
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Trending Articles
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower-Retailer
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Blockchain building block graphic
Specialty CropsIs Blockchain the Future of Food Safety?
August 24, 2018
When the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized in 1982, permitting the worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks and eventually the Read More
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in $20 Million Deal
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
Latest News
Business ManagementIvy Tech, Farmers Partner to Help Precision Ag Educatio…
September 20, 2018
Harvest time has taken on a new meaning for some Wabash Valley farmers, and Bobbi Hunt-Kincaid hopes her family’s first Read More
Sensors
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil …
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Google-Earth-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementRainfall Revisited: Accurate Observations and Beyond
September 18, 2018
As a provider of weather analysis and forecast services to the agricultural industry, one of the most common questions I Read More
PenelopeNagel
Business ManagementWhy Is Funding a Challenge for Women-Led Agtech Compani…
September 17, 2018
When it comes to women-led agtech companies the funding discussion never seems to cease. In June after the The New Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Decision Support SoftwareWhy Are 570 Million Farmers Not Yet Using Agricultural …
September 17, 2018
Until recently, using agricultural apps and software was a rare practice among growers. This is now changing. The mass adoption Read More
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsDeere-Granular Collaboration Produces New Profit Maps T…
September 14, 2018
The newest development from the ongoing John Deere-Granular product development and marketing collaboration is Profit Maps, now available to farmers Read More
Wingtra
DronesOpinion: Combining Two Pluses with the WingtraOne UAV
September 13, 2018
For the every-day consumer interested in UAVs, there is an ocean of products from which to choose. This includes the Read More
Farmer-tablet
AsiaShould Agri-Input Manufacturers Outsource E-Commerce to…
September 12, 2018
Editor’s note: Venky Ramachandran is a contributing writer for PrecisionAg.com’s sister site, AgriBusinessGlobal.com. This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Now, Read More
ICON-Link-Licensing_featured-image
Industry NewsValley Irrigation Adds Remote Irrigation Management Opt…
September 11, 2018
Valley Irrigation, an industry leader in smart irrigation solutions, has announced enhancements to its remote management technologies. Multi-Year Licensing In Read More
Reflex-Connect-Agri-Inject-featured-image
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable Rate Fertigation System Expands with Mobile Co…
September 10, 2018
Building on the success of its Reflex Variable Rate Fertigation system, Agri-Inject has taken fluid injection to the next level Read More
Industry NewsTeralytic Earns Ag Data Transparent Certification
September 10, 2018
Soil analytics company Teralytic has completed the Ag Data Transparent certification, affirming that their data use is private, secure, and Read More
Business ManagementTop 20 Two-Year Colleges for Precision Agriculture
September 10, 2018
Earlier this year, I compiled a list of the 25 best colleges for precision agriculture. It was quite the process. Read More
Industry NewsRaven, Topcon Announce Slingshot API Agreement
September 6, 2018
Raven Industries and Topcon Agriculture announced today a licensing agreement for Topcon Agriculture’s use of the Slingshot Application Programming Interface Read More
Tablet Grower
Data ManagementThe Power of Predictive Analytics in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Years ago if we would have been told computers, data, and technology would be scattered around every farm there may Read More
DronessenseFly Launches eBee X Drone, Breaks Through 1,000 ac…
September 5, 2018
senseFly today reportedly sets a new standard in mapping tools with the launch of the eBee X. Launched with the Read More
AmericasOn The Scene: 2018 Farm Progress Show Wrap Up
September 5, 2018
Former Monsanto President (now Bayer CropScience Chief Operating Office) Brett Begemann’s opening salvo during his first appearance at a Farm Read More
EventsAg Experts Discuss Big Data Challenges in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Agricultural experts at a Houston conference praised the advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors, and data-collecting technology used in precision Read More