An easy button for data and technology
The Easy Button™ was an advertising campaign made popular by Staples® Office Supplies; ease of use is the idea behind changes to the newest Case IH line of equipment and technology. “When a farmer gets in the new equipment, it will seem familiar, easy to use, and have seamless data transfer capabilities,” according to Arik Witker, Product Support Manager with Redline Equipment Company.
Ease of use and compatibility with other product lines has been a major focus for many precision ag manufacturers. In the past, each equipment line and technology company spoke its own language which often resulted in one piece of equipment having difficulty “talking” to equipment from another company. However, communication is improving as evidenced by the 2019 AEF Spring Plugfest held in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“Basically, Plugfest is a chance for each company to see if their equipment will talk with everyone else’s,” said Witker. “Case IH has been working on making it easier to bring all the data out of the red machines and take it to the various platforms the farmer uses to analyze it.”
The new AFS Connect Magnum series tractors have data capabilities built in.
“The AFS Connect platform has two primary components,” Witker said. “There is the telematics component which allows a farmer to send agronomic information to their office computer, or agronomy service provider; and then there is the diagnostics component which allows for real-time troubleshooting. With this system, farmers have instant access to location, diagnostics and fuel and engine stats, just like they would see it in the field.”
The Case IH evolution of displays started with the Universal Display followed by the Universal Display Plus, then the Pro 600 and Pro 700 displays.
“Components could be moved from vehicle to vehicle. A farmer could move the GPS and display from one tractor to another, or to the sprayer or combine. The next generation is the Pro 1200 display which is part of the AFS Connect Platform. It is fully integrated. It will be out this year on the new 2020 AFS Connect Magnum. This fundamentally changes the communication within the tractor. It is all new in terms of the wiring and technology capabilities built in,” said Witker.
“It is all geared around user friendliness and user support. The Pro 1200 will have a very similar layout to the Pro 700; however it has been redesigned to be more user friendly. A farmer will never be more than 3-4 clicks deep into a menu to get to anything they need to see. They also have the ability to do almost any function in more than one way to fit the way they like to operate the tractor. There are still tactile buttons to push, or they can use buttons on the touchscreen monitor, or the AFS ISO Task Controller.”
Witker says that transitioning from a Pro 700 to the new Pro 1200 should be a relatively quick learn for farmers or new users. “It will not be much different than switching from an iPhone X to an iPhone 11. Generally, farmers have the concepts down as to what needs to happen, and they understand what it takes, they just need to learn the button presses to make it happen,” Witker said.
Since its reveal of the autonomous concept vehicle in 2016, Case IH has continued evolving the technology and further defining automation and autonomy for agriculture. “The autonomous vehicle we have in Racine, Wisconsin is real. It has made leaps and bounds, and the technology is there, it is just a matter of further refining it.”
“If you look at where auto steer was 15 years ago and compare it to where it is today, we have seen tremendous refinements. It will be the same with this vehicle, just refining the technology,” said Witker. “We already have AFS Soil Command, which makes “dumb” tillage tools “smart.” It takes a simple tillage tool and adds sensors to the tines and shanks that plug into an ISO platform and it senses vibration and drag and feeds into the autonomy telling the tractor to slow down, or to raise the implement or lower it as needed.”
“Farmers are like the mainstream consumer. They have a desire for more information and a need for knowledge. We now have all this data at our disposal, but in the end, it is like a treadmill. It is only good if you use it. Now technology allows us to simply push one button on the display in the cab and everything is there - maps, averages, everything. Just ten years ago we would have to take out a PC card and hope that it had the GPS data points on it, and then download it to a program on a computer to process it to make a map, then re-upload the information and take it back to another display and controller.
“Today it is as easy as the push of a button,” said Witker. “We are essentially at one easy button push.”
By: Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader
Dusty Sonnenberg is a farmer and certified crop advisor. He provides agronomic content for the Ohio Field Leader as well as Ohio’s County Journal. Dusty is an active member of his community and owns and operates Sonnenberg Farms, Jay Calf Ranch and Tri-State RTK Network, LLC.