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Standardisation Of Precision Farming Data And Devices
Technology and data are the prime factors that define precision farming. The development of devices and equipment has progressed quite quickly; with most of the equipment manufacturers aiming to secure a reasonable market share. Continues research and developments are undertaken by most of the major market players to develop systems that are reliable, and easy to integrate and operate. It was observed that these devices had a limited compatibility with other manufacturers systems. As the number of different systems increases, and each becomes more complex, the task of getting some standardisation in communication and data protocols becomes more difficult.
For the past few years, the amount of electronic equipment in machinery has gradually increased, as manufacturers build more functional, and with enhanced productivity and performance features in their equipment. Most of these equipment have been comprising an individual user interface mounted in the tractor, which could typically control only one specific piece of equipment. It was observed that to provide inter-operability between the electronic systems on different tractors— implements and user interfaces, and standardization of the electronics were required. This led to the development of ISO 11783 standard, designed by the working group across North America.
ISO 11783 or ISOBUS is a communication protocol for agriculture equipment; it specifies a data network for control and communication, on agriculture implements. ISOBUS system is based around one central communication cable called a “BUS”, to which all the equipment is attached. When a piece of equipment is attached to the BUS for the first time, it will automatically install the software required for the user to control it, onto the Virtual Terminal Screen. Today, most of the tractors come with ISOBUS compliance; and farmers using precision farming equipment look for devices that are compliant. It is expected that within the next 3-4 years, the full implementation of the ISOBUS would be completed.
In 2008, the EU funded a project- “Future Farm”, a three years collaborative research between universities, companies, and research institutes from ten European countries. The project’s overall aim was to understand better about how new technologies could be used to superiorly manage European farms through the collection and transmission of data in real-time, across networks. It was expected to develop a standardised platform for this data, on the similar lines how ISO11783 has been standardizing the agricultural electronic equipment.
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