Posts Tagged ‘precision farming’
By Abby Burton
AGCO was invited to testify in front of the House Agriculture Committee that took place October 28, 2015. In announcing the Full Committee public hearing, Big Data and Agriculture: Innovation and Implications, Chairman K. Michael Conaway explained that the hearing would be a forum for stakeholders to explain what big data means to their business and how it is changing the agriculture marketplace.
As one of five expert witnesses, and representing the only machinery company on the panel, Matt Rushing, vice president, Global Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS) Product Line at AGCO, offered perspective into the area of agriculture data: what it is, the potential it holds for helping growers increase productivity, some challenges the industry faces and, most importantly, the exciting opportunity to help growers leverage their data effectively.
In Rushing’s written and verbal testimony on behalf of AGCO, he explained how new, precision agriculture technologies are creating tremendous amounts of data that has so far not been utilized by most growers. Being able to harness this generated data has the potential to be the next big driver in productivity gains. Smart, connected machines and growers’ ability to effectively manage and use farm data is at the forefront of the next farming revolution. With these changes, states AGCO’s testimony, shared standards for accessing, processing and ownership of this data must be agreed upon.
The testimony highlights some challenges, and what AGCO is doing in the space. With challenges such as technical barriers and adoption, it is up to leaders in the ag industry to develop and advocate for technology that achieves a secure, standardized yet adaptable environment, and keeping data sharing choices open, so growers can use it how they want to maximize its potential. Ownership is a key piece of farm data discussion. AGCO asserts that the farmer owns and should have control and responsibility for the data generated by his or her operation. In an effort to further respect growers’ data privacy choices, AGCO has separated its data pipelines; one for machine data, and on for more sensitive agronomic data. The agronomic data pipeline is not aggregated, evaluated or stored by AGCO other than to facilitate the transfer between the machine and the software chosen by the grower.
“Agriculture data is the ultimate grower tool to minimize risk and increase profitability while enabling them to become better stewards of the land,” said Rushing in the testimony. “AGCO’s focus is on helping growers make sense of their data, and we were honored to be asked to testify representing the machinery side of the industry,” he said.
AGCO’s testimony closes in saying it is an exciting time to be a part of the agriculture industry, and calls attention to “an unprecedented level of cooperation among farmer advocacy groups, industry associations, biotech companies, equipment manufacturers and technology providers – all coming together to help growers utilize data to feed the world.”
To download a white paper of Matt Rushing’s testimony, click here.
Click here to view the recorded hearing.
For more information about Fuse, AGCO’s open approach to precision agriculture, visit www.AGCOtechnologies.com.
Abby Burton is a marketing communications specialist for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group, focusing on delivering the Fuse message to customers, dealers, employees and investors.
By Ben Craker
A key aspect of the Fuse strategy is to seek out new and innovative technologies to integrate into machines. AGCO understands how quickly new technologies change and develop. This means no one company will be able to provide all the different solutions farmers will want on their own. Partnering allows AGCO to focus on developing core machines and on technologies that have become integral to the machine. A good example of this is the recent announcement for the new VarioGuide and Auto-Guide systems. We have taken the approach that no one will be better at steering a machine built by AGCO than AGCO. However, we are not experts in the development of GNSS receivers, so we have partners like NovAtel, Topcon, and Trimble to provide industry leading receivers with their own unique features that connect into the AGCO machines and technology products.
Following the Fuse open partnering strategy, earlier this month a team from AGCO, including Chris Rhodes and Ben Craker from Advanced Technology Solutions and Darren Goebel from Global Crop Care, traveled to Silicon Valley to meet with a variety of tech startups that are focused on agriculture. The Royse Law Firm has created an incubator for these new companies to help them take their innovative ideas to market. Silicon Valley is perhaps the global epicenter for innovation but often the creative people, who have developed a new product or service, don’t have the funding or industry experience to grow their business beyond a fairly small scale. This is where Roger Royce and his “incubator” come in. The AgTech Innovation Network connects startup businesses with potential investors or partners like AGCO to help companies get past the new-idea phase and into the market.
As AGCO looks to the horizon and the next technologies that will change the way farms operate, startups in Silicon Valley will likely play a big role. Through participation with the groups like the AgTech Innovation Network and Farm2050, AGCO will learn about these emerging technologies first hand and integrate them into products promptly to help growers become more productive, efficient and sustainable. At last week’s meeting AGCO made connections with companies in areas from fleet and employee management, to food freshness monitoring and traceability, to enhanced wireless communications in remote areas and localized weather information.
While not every product or service fits exactly into the current AGCO portfolio, many of them could be adapted to provide new and exciting tools for growers with AGCO equipment. For instance, some of the sensor technology developed for a robotic fruit harvester may have other uses in application equipment. This is part of the purpose of the incubator, to expose the products to different people who may have slightly different viewpoints on what they could be best used for, or what markets would really see a demand for the technology. It was a very exciting meeting with a lot of companies for the AGCO partnering team to follow up with on future possibilities.
Ben Craker is a Manager for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group, focusing on Global Partnerships and Standards for Fuse Technologies. Connect with Ben on Twitter @crakerb.
If you haven’t noticed, data is a pretty hot topic in the agricultural industry right now. With the rapid growth and adoption of precision farming products such as guidance, telematics, rate and section control, etc. – there has been, in parallel, a massive amount of data generated from global farming operations resulting from the outputs of these products. All of this data has created a wealth of opportunity for growers, agronomists, manufacturing companies, and other invested parties. However, many players in the Ag industry are still working to understand the best ways to utilize this data, so that these emerging opportunities can be fully realized.
Depending on where you sit in the realm of agriculture, there are different types of farm data that can be used in different ways to generate useful information. In the case of AGCO (being a machinery producer), we have identified an area where we believe there is an opportunity for our customers, dealers and AGCO to all become better. Our main interest as a company is utilizing machine data as a service enabler for our customers. Last month, AGCO announced a new service program that it will be rolling out to all AGCO dealers over the next few years. This program is called Fuse® Connected Services, and utilizes data coming from AGCO machines (with the customer’s permission) to provide enhanced services to AGCO customers.
The new service offering is enabled through AGCO’s telematics product, AgCommand®, and is delivered in the form of three service package offerings. Examples of some services that are provided include:
- Proactive condition monitoring (remotely)
- Machine Alerts (based on AGCO recommended thresholds)
- Machine performance and efficiency reviews (Off-season consultation)
- Full management of machine maintenance
- Technology review and seasonal training
Through use of machine data and AGCO’s network of resources, AGCO dealers are able to turn data into useful information that can be used to help customers run machines more efficiently, identify training needs, maximize uptime and more. The idea behind this is simple; managing a farm operation is a lot of work. The logistics and planning aspect of farming alone is enough to keep growers occupied. Having to worry about potential machine breakdowns, maintenance and operator training on top of that can hinder efficiency by taking time away from other value added activities a farmer is responsible for. AGCO dealers can help manage and monitor customer machines so that the customer does not have to worry about his/her machines and operators being ready to execute during crunch time, freeing the farmer to focus on agronomic decisions. Rather than selling customers a radio modem that gives them data points about their machines, AGCO dealers will provide them with services and information that result in actionable insights and recommendations based on the dealer’s expert analysis of the customer’s machine data. This will result in greater uptime, efficiency and profitability for our customers. It will also enhance the service capability of our dealers and even provide AGCO with another means to improve the quality and design of our machines.
The idea of using machine data as a service enabler has already been seen in other industries. Construction companies such as Caterpillar have been doing it for a while now. Telecommunications provider Verizon has a robust program in place for optimizing fleet operations, and has even started something similar in the automotive industry. Verizon’s Hum monitors your vehicle and lets you know if anything goes wrong. Furthermore, it will even recommend repairs and provide you with estimates as to how much the repair may cost.
Consider this—if companies such as Verizon have identified a market opportunity on consumer and commercial vehicles, imagine the opportunity in agriculture. For the most part, a vehicle gets you from point A to point B. Agricultural equipment does much more than that. Growers buy specific machinery to generate a return for their operation. Agricultural equipment is more so a tool than a vehicle. Thus, the value of maximizing the performance of that tool is quite important to owners as it more directly impacts their income and livelihood.
AGCO is taking a big step forward with Fuse Connected Services. We are already piloting this program today in NA, EAME and SA, with dealer availability beginning Q1 of 2016.
For more information on AGCO’s precision farming products, data management policy and Fuse Connected Services, please visit www.agcotechnologies.com.
Ryan Johnson is a Sr. Global Marketing Specialist for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group, focusing on bringing AGCO’s Fuse precision farming technologies and services to market .
By Matt Rushing
Rate and Section control technology is critical for farming in the future. Increasingly, it is becoming a requirement for farmers looking to reduce costs and improve yields. The adoption rate of this technology is high, but utilization is still low. Why are farmers passing on the opportunity to lower their overall costs while also reducing negative impacts on the environment? Education plays a major role, as does helping farmers understand what to do with the vast amount of data flowing from one stage of the crop cycle to the next.
Rate and section control is essential in controlling planting, seeding, pest management and nutrient application operations. Using Rate and Section control technologies such as Variable Rate Technology (VRT) and Automatic Section Control (ASC) effectively allows the farmer to reduce overall costs by helping to avoid double applying inputs on areas the machine has already covered, as well as getting the right amount in the right place based on the field’s needs.
Variable Rate Technology (VRT):
- Can help farmers optimize input costs by monitoring and varying different materials in the field to precisely plant seeds, apply fertilizer and chemicals based on prescriptions developed with the farmers trusted advisors
- Variable rate systems also record how those inputs were applied. This information can then be used to create prescriptions for subsequent operations and track the effectiveness of different crop management strategies.
Automatic Section Control (ASC):
- Avoid double coverage and eliminate wasted inputs due to overlap, field topography, soil conditions and obstacles
- Makes managing headlands and pivot rows easier when planting and spraying
- Allows spinner speed control for spreader application systems when applying fertilizer
- Improves yield by preventing overcrowding point rows with plants when seeding
In planting, both of these technologies allow real-time monitoring of seeding or fertilizer delivery information and can help identify planter malfunctions by catching them early before they cause huge yield reductions. By seeing the results of singulation analysis, skips/multiples, spacing and quality of spacing, the farmer can make better decisions and implement corrective actions faster to improve overall efficiency and yield.
In spraying herbicides and pesticides, overlapping inputs increases chemical costs while risking potential harm to the environment. Effective use of these technologies also contributes to managing impacts to zones negatively affected by chemicals such as waterways and public areas. The reduced use of fuel and more economical application of fertilizer under precision agriculture indicate rate and section control technologies have the potential to play a huge role in reducing air and water pollution.
Rate and section control technology is one important piece of AGCO’s approach to precision agriculture, known as Fuse. There are many opportunities for the industry and AGCO to teach and show the benefits of rate and section control technologies and encourage their adoption at a much faster rate through education and data management services.
To learn more about how AGCO is helping growers optimize operations and increase efficiency, visit www.AGCOtechnologies.com.
Matt Rushing is the Vice President for the Advanced Technology Solutions group (Fuse), responsible for AGCO’s Global ATS Product Line.
By Jacob Bates
6:00 AM: The alarm goes off for the first time.
6:45 AM: The alarm goes off for the fifth time.
8:07 AM: You find yourself in your classroom seat dreading the lecture you are about to receive, hoping that this isn’t the long awaited PowerPoint presentation that will lead to your demise.
9:24 AM: You find yourself slowly nodding off for your morning nap, the monotonous voice of your instructor providing a soothing tone that seems to induce a state of tranquility.
We all have fond memories of our mornings spent in the classroom from a young age, listening to the dull lectures where teachers and professors would dictate their intellectual knowledge to the students. (Well, maybe we tried to forget those parts.) But what we do remember are the exciting times when we got to actively engage in our learning and apply those seemingly boring theories in a hands-on environment. Those powerful learning opportunities allowed us to make use of intellectual concepts in a real world setting. In many cases the learning – or even the mistakes – that ensued was what stuck with us moving forward into our adult lives.
As adult learners, our learning process really isn’t much different than that of our youth. Recognizing these important educational concepts has helped AGCO’s Global Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS) Training team and other supporters within AGCO develop and implement a top-notch training platform for the agents at the Fuse® Contact Center. The Fuse Contact Center provides setup, calibration and operation assistance for customers using AGCO’s technology products. From the time an agent starts their role with the Fuse Contact Center, they are continuously educated. This begins with a solid foundation in the principles of Fuse Technologies products, AGCO’s machine and implements portfolio, and formal training in customer service skills.
Once this foundation has been laid, the agents take part in intensive field training activities where they have the opportunity to apply the concepts they’ve been learning in a real farming environment. As agents mature in their roles and areas of specialty within the group, the training continues to more advanced levels, allowing them to grow into the “expert” role for certain products that are supported. Back at the Fuse Contact Center the technologically advanced simulation systems allow the agents to maintain their skill level and provide the best support for customer calls.
Providing training in the field setting has been extremely rewarding. The constant level of enthusiasm and dedication that the agents show for Fuse Technologies is outstanding! They are always ready and excited to learn and apply new skills. This passion and product expertise has translated into world class customer service supporting operational, setup and calibration needs of customers using AGCO’s Fuse Technologies products – real people with real solutions, in real-time.
Jacob Bates is a Manager for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group, focusing on Global Service Training for Fuse Technologies. To learn more about the Fuse Contact Center, visit the Fuse website.