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Wireless connectivity could end the thumb drive era — and a whole lot more
Oberg Family Farms, Kragnes, Minn., runs its Case IH equipment on rented ground near Argusville, N.D.
If wireless connectivity is the core technology behind cloud computing, in-cab displays are the chief targets of the desire to get connected.
“The amount of data flowing to and from farm fields is just unreal,” says Tim Taylor of MapShots, a precision software company. “The industry is very rapidly moving toward wireless transmission of data in real time. Thumb drives will be a thing of the past.”
Here’s a roundup of wireless connectivity options that allow precision ag data to be imported and exported to and from displays. In addition to data transfer options, many systems also include vehicle performance and/or location tracking functions.
Raven began offering wireless services to compatible Raven displays in 2010, when it introduced its Slingshot (ravenslingshot.com) communications system. Slingshot, which also delivers RTK corrections to Raven receivers and most other receiver brands, uses a 3G cellular data modem to minimize data download times. The Slingshot Field Hub kit, which retails for $2,000, includes access to the Slingshot online network. Access keys for third-party software via Slingshot are $150 to $400 annually.
Trimble began offering direct connectivity to its FmX and CFX-750 displays in 2010, enabling wireless import and export of precision data, including yield data, as-applied variety maps, drainage designs, guidance lines and prescription maps. The system is available through the Connected Farm service available to Farm Works Software customers. The annual fee for the office-to-field data transfer is $360. A cellular modem, a data service plan and required Farm Works software are additional. Visit connectedfarm.com.
AgIntegrated (agintegrated.com) introduced Onsite, a cloud-based mobile and desktop application, in 2012. The company designed Onsite to solve the challenge of wirelessly transferring precision ag data to displays not currently supporting wireless data transfer. Onsite also provides a single data transfer system for use in mixed-brand farm equipment fleets. It links precision data stored on office computers to Internet servers that automatically download data to smartphones and tablet computers in the field. Data are then wirelessly transferred to a compact flash card or USB thumb drive via Onsite’s Relay data transfer device for manual download to the display. The annual fee per Onsite account is $499, with volume discounts available for multiple accounts. The list price of the OnSite Relay is $345.
The Outback Max (outbackmax.com) integrated display terminal, introduced by Hemisphere GPS in 2012, provides wireless data transfer using the optional ConnX data management system. ConnX connects the in-cab terminal with the farm office and service providers using AgJunction, AgVerdict, NutriScription HD, OptiGro and Precision.Ag data platforms. The ConnX cellular modem also accesses RTK correction signals and provides Internet connectivity for real-time weather and market information via a custom Web browser. The bundled price for the ConnX service, including a terminal unlock, a CDMA cellular modem, a cellular data plan and access to the ConnX website, is $2,695.
John Deere plans to open the wireless information pipeline to and from its GreenStar 2630 display in time for harvest 2013. The company expects more capabilities to be in place by 2014 planting, including import of prescription planting maps and export of as-applied maps to and from major precision ag software programs, says Charles Schleusner, product line marketing manager for My John Deere Solutions (myjohndeere.com).
“We believe in the value of the cloud for John Deere and our customers,” Schleusner says. “We want to remove a hurdle to allowing producers to easily share data with key advisors to help them make profitable decisions.”
To help accomplish that, John Deere, which is collaborating with outside companies to make data transfer seamless, has introduced MyJohnDeere.com, a centralized online portal to access, view, archive and manage business information. Prices for data sharing and advanced features on MyJohnDeere.com are yet to be released. The MyJohnDeere Web portal is available for access today free of charge.
In addition to the GreenStar 3 display 2630, users need a JDLink, which includes the Modular Telematics Gateway (MTG) cellular modem, which has been standard on 8R tractors since 2011 and has been standard on all John Deere large agricultural machines since 2012. My John Deere Solutions are available on other brands equipped with the required GreenStar 3 2630 display and MTG.