ISOBUS: What It Means and Why It Matters
If you have purchased precision ag equipment or even investigated a precision ag purchase, you’ve likely heard the term ISOBUS thrown around and wondered what it meant. Some even call it ISO for short.
Simply, ISOBUS is the system that allows precision ag computers, equipment, vehicles, and more to work together, regardless of their brand or manufacturer. ISOBUS done right is what allows you to purchase a green tractor, a blue planter, and a red combine and have them all speak the same language.
An ISOBUS system has standardized software, allowing the machines to communicate with each other. It comes with standard plugs and cables that enable everything to fit together seamlessly.
ISOBUS in ag equipment would be the equivalent of a system that allowed our iPhones and Androids to use the same chargers and the same apps without having to specifically design for each individually.
It matters a lot on the farm.
Primarily, an ISOBUS compatible system means that you can buy whatever brand of tractor or implement you want. You can shop around for the best price, best service agreement, best efficiency, without feeling stuck in a certain brand.
Farmers can even look for used equipment to fit seamlessly into their fleet if the used equipment is ISOBUS certified.
Reselling your own equipment can also be simpler if you have purchased something with an ISOBUS certification, since the new owner can rest assured that the purchase will fit in with her current fleet.
Sadly, ISOBUS has gotten a bad name since its inception because some equipment marketed as ISOBUS prepared or ISOBUS light are not exactly ISOBUS certified.
In the pursuit to make precision ag easier and more seamless, some of these names can actually make precision farming more difficult. And often, there is no way to know if a piece of equipment is truly ISO compatible until you plug everything in.
Perhaps a farmer’s best resource is the ISOBUS Database. The Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) offers a free resource to help farmers decide which machinery and implement choices will offer the most compatibility for precision ag functions. Any ISOBUS product which has passed the AEF ISOBUS Conformance test will be listed in this database.
This database can be viewed in your web browser but is also available as a smartphone app for use in the field or at your place of purchase. The volunteer members of the AEF created the database to help farmers streamline their ISOBUS purchases and to overcome the lack of compatibility some farmers experienced.
Your precision ag purchase, whether it's your first or the next in a larger fleet of equipment, will benefit from an expanded knowledge of ISOBUS, it’s functionalities, and how it can make your fleet work together for maximum efficiency.