2 commentslast update:22 Feb 2019

How many terminals does one farmer need?!

Having many terminals might make you look like a very high-tech farmer, but how many do you need?

Recently I visited one of the NPPL precision agriculture (PA) project participants to discuss the PA applications he was going to apply during the 2019 growing season. The participant had been thorough in doing his homework, displayed by the quotations for different systems per PA application on the table.

While looking through the quotations, it struck me that each quotation contained a terminal, which was said to be required to make the application work. Though I had to agree the SBG/Raven GPS autosteer terminals on the farm do not support ISOBUS, we felt that buying a separate terminal for each application would definitely be overdoing it.

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Each manufacturer prefers to have his own terminal used in a PA application. This increases the investment required per PA application, thus stretching the return-on-investment time.- Photo: Bert Jansen
Each manufacturer prefers to have his own terminal used in a PA application. This increases the investment required per PA application, thus stretching the return-on-investment time.- Photo: Bert Jansen

One cable could be all you need

While talking, we discussed the new tractor the participant had just bought. Built in 2018, we felt that surely this tractor must be ISOBUS compatible. A quick call to the local dealer confirmed our thoughts and revealed that also a second tractor on the farm was already ISOBUS compatible.

This meant that the only thing we had to do was feed the RTK-corrected GPS location from the SBG/Raven autosteer terminal to the ISOBUS terminals integrated in the tractors. We quickly found that a simple cable was all that was needed to make this happen. Sadly, not all ISOBUS terminals support variable rate applications, so our next step is to find out if the ISOBUS terminals integrated in the two tractors on the farm do.

Why more than one terminal?

Personally, I understand that each manufacturer prefers to have his own terminal used in a PA application. Having designed and tested the system themselves, the company can be 99,9% sure the system works out of the box and if problems occur, the support department can easily provide support.

You can often save money by simply investigating which functionality already is built into your tractors, machines and the terminals you already own before buying yet another terminal

However, this also increases the investment required per PA application, thus stretching the return-on-investment time. ISOBUS was invented just to prevent this, making sure each machine could communicate with each implement, eliminating the need to have 5 terminals in your cab.

Access to more data

If you have a tractor with an integrated ISOBUS-terminal, your autosteer GPS terminal can send the GPS coordinates to the ISOBUS-terminal through a simple cable. After connecting an ISOBUS implement, the system should work without problems. An additional advantage of using an ISOBUS terminal integrated in the tractor is that this terminal often has access to more data and functions of the tractor, improving efficiency.

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Having many terminals in your cab might make you look like a very high-tech farmer, but can you watch all screens at the same time and at the same time check the quality of your work through the rear-window? - Photo: Dennis Beek
Having many terminals in your cab might make you look like a very high-tech farmer, but can you watch all screens at the same time and at the same time check the quality of your work through the rear-window? - Photo: Dennis Beek

Save money

The main message of this story is that you can often save money by simply investigating which functionality already is built into your tractors, machines and the terminals you already own before buying yet another terminal.

Having many terminals in your cab might make you look like a very high-tech farmer, but I’m quite sure you will not be able to watch all screens at the same time and at the same time check the quality of your work through the rear-window. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Researcher Precision Agriculture and Agro-Food Robotics

Koen van Boheemen is a researcher precision agriculture at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. He focusses on smart data collection and usage throughout the farming operation. One of the points of interest in this work is compatibility and putting data from machine or operation A to work for machine or operation B.

Also read: Succesful first year for NPPL precision ag project

2 comments

  • Thieu Berkers

    Door de ISObus headless te maken met alleen 1 webserver die op de trekker draait kunnen alle aparte terminals overboord en blijft een scherm met een browser over waar de verschillende applicaties van de verschillende leveranciers in kunnen draaien. Elders in de industrie hebben ze dat ook zo opgelost.

  • @Thieu Berkers: Effectively you can say that's what ISOBUS already is. It's a 'webserver' on a CAN Bus running the ISOBUS protocol. The UT Server runs on the Terminal in the Tractor and the UT Client on the implement. All according to a standard called ISO-11783, where UT is 11783-6. AEF organizes the AEF ISOBUS Certifications for the UT Servers and Clients. This goes in a similar way for Task Control and all other ISOBUS Functionalities like the upcoming TIM Functionality. Compliant equipment can be found in the AEF Database at https://www.aef-isobus-database.org.
    So the customer can do the work with one terminal or multiple terminals in multiple tractors for all his ISOBUS compliant implements. There's a lot of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge as the article describes. AEF and the joint machinery Industry is working hard to improve that situation.

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