Precision Farming Dealer sent 11 staffers to the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, to cover the latest innovations and trends in the precision farming market. What follows are the most noteworthy product launches, industry notes and trending news editors found impacting the North American ag technology market. For more on what our editors saw, heard and experienced on the show grounds, visit Precision Farming Dealer's Facebook and Twitter pages (#FPS18). You can also find additional coverage and exclusive video interviews on www.PrecisionFarmingDealer.com.
Case IH Launches Harvest Command
Case IH introduced its Harvest Command, automated technology on the new 250 series combine for 2019. Ryan Blasiak, harvesting marketing manager, summed up the developments. The standard-issue AFS Connect allows dealers to better diagnose and be aware of service intervals to help customers in downtime/update. “For farmers, we can use 16 different sensors to make 7 different, key combine function changes," Blasiak explains. "These include ground speed, rotor speed, pre-sieve, top-sieve, fan speed, lower-sieve and then ultimately now, cage vane angle position as well."
The new system also features an exclusive, patented, sieve pressure sensor to measure pressure differential between the upper and lower sieve to get a better readout on sieve operation for operators. "Farmers can know if they have a sieve off-loss condition or blowout losses and then the sensors constantly optimize the machine before losses occur," Blasiak says. "This helps maximize grain savings and benefit to the customer."
The Harvest Command starts at about $13,000 list price.
Autonomy Continues to Advance
Kicking off Tuesday with a press conference followed by live field demo, Ames, Iowa, technology developer Smart Ag unveiled its AutoCart autonomous technology. Designed to assist with labor shortages on farms, the aftermarket kit can be implemented into the cab of a combine during grain harvest to control a tractor in a separate part of the field.
The system comes with an additional remote farmers can use to stop the tractor immediately when needed. With price points estimated between $35,000-$40,000, AutoCart is currently being run on a limited scope with John Deere equipment and anticipated for a full commercial release in 2019, according to Mark Barglof, chief technology officer for Smart Ag.
“Right now, the system works for 8R series tractors, but as we continue into the future we plan to increase the types of equipment the system can run on it,” says Barglof. “We’ve got partnerships with Bottom Line Solutions in Illinois, and AgriVision, a local Deere dealer.”
xarvio Introduces Weed, Disease Detection to North America
Germany-based xarvio Digital Farming Solutions introduced its new scouting app, with image recognition technology to identify — with near 90% certainty — 11 known diseases and 11 weed species in the U.S. Farmers have the ability to take an early-stage, in-field photo and cross-reference the image in the scouting apps database to identify the disease or weed.
Based on several hundred thousand images and machine learning algorithms, the app also assigns a “confidence index” percentage with the classification,
"Within the next 2-3 years, we'll be rolling out smart sprayer technology that uses this same image recognition technology," says David Gray, U.S. commercial manager. "As the sprayer is rolling through the field, cameras will recognize different weed varieties and select from multiple herbicides to best suit conditions and reduce over spraying and weed resistance."
360Sprint Seeks to Set Pace of Fertilizer Refilling
360 Yield Center debuted a prototype of its new 360Sprint machine, designed for on-the-go liquid fertilizer refills. A 300-gallon tank, mounted on a John Deere Gator, has a connector in the front that can attach to a moving planter in the field and refill liquid nitrogen or starter fertilizer on the planter. With the ability to cover as much as 30% more acres in a day, the company field tested 4 machines this spring including on founder Gregg Sauder’s farm.
“Farmers are spending a lot of money on high-speed planters and to be sitting as much as 12 minutes to refill fertilizer, as much as 10 times per day, that’s more than 100 acres a day lost on pitstops,” Sauder says. “This system can load 300 gallons in less than 4 minutes and we see broader use with farmers looking to chase strip-till bars in fall to add liquid N.”
OEMs Broaden Base of Factory-Direct Precision
Ag equipment manufacturers continued the trend of integrating more precision technology into equipment from the factory, expanding inclusions to include more data-centric tools. Case IH announced the inclusion of its AFS Connect portal for model year 2019 base models of its 250 combine series, Magnum and Steiger tractors. The 1-year subscription, priced at $500, allows for file transfer and review of collected agronomic and machine data, says Chris Dempsey, Case IH marketing manager.
John Deere also expanded its precision features in base large ag equipment for 2018, with inclusion of its AutoTrac Universal 300 steering system ($3,000 list price) and software updates to its Gen 4 displays. With the frequency that farmers trade equipment, `
Matt Olson, precision marketing manager for Deere, says inclusion of precision hardware and software is expected on sales of used equipment. “Activations are just as attached to that equipment as the steering wheel and tires,” he says. “For dealers, it simplifies the sales process and provides more value to that used equipment.”
Dealers Offer Uber Service to Customers
Four-wheeled transportation is increasingly common at the Farm Progress Show, with companies and attendees opting for golf carts to navigate the aisles. But dealers are taking advantage of the option as both a mobile marketing tool and literal vehicle to showcase vendor products and casually talk business with customers. Our staff spotted at least 3 dealerships, and rode along with one, offering on-demand pick-up and drop-off for customers.
Precision farming dealership HTS Ag, based in Harlan, Iowa, about 2 hours from the show grounds in Boone, rented 3 golf carts to transport attendees around the show. The dealership had a stationary booth at the 2010 show, but wanted to find a more personal and economical way to interact with attendees. So rather than spending thousands of dollars on a booth, the dealership spent a few hundred dollars renting the carts.
“It’s been a great way to answer questions from customers on products or companies we work with and then make an introduction to someone from that vendor,” says Adam Gittins, general manager with HTS Ag. “I’ve also been able to provide and discuss product quotes with customers and follow up with them right after the show to close a sale on something they saw here.”
New Dry Fertilizer Sensing Tool, Seed Metering System
Brazilian manufacturer J.Assy made its second appearance at the Farm Progress Show and showcased the Visum wireless flow blockage system for strip-till fertilizer application. Working with Montag Mfg., for distribution, the system is wireless and consists of a hose sensor, vibration flow detection and in-cab monitor.
If there is a blockage in the boot of the row unit or in the meter, the operator will get an audible indication of the plug in the row, and which row, says Dale Simpson, general sales manager for J.Assy.
“Many farmers running dry fertilizer application in a strip-till system are doing so without any real indication of knowledge if they are getting flow to each row unit,” Simpson says. “I liken it to there not being a farmer around who wouldn’t have a monitor on his seed meter for the corn planter, so why wouldn’t you want to have the same kind of tracking with dry fertilizer application.
Cost of the system is $260 per row, and available on a variety of strip-till row unit models, Simpson says.
J.Assy also introduced its new Selenium vacuum seed meter, which has kits for soybeans and sorghum. The company is partnering with planter row unit manufacturer Harvest International for production.
“One of the key differentiators with the product is with crop changeover,” says Simpson. “When changing from one crop to another, it’s as simple as popping out one kit and replacing with another one, without adjusting singulators, knock-out wheels or small pins.”
Analyst Cites Precision ‘Arms Race,’ Holistic Approach by OEMs
In a note to investors, Baird analyst Mircea (Mig) Dobre, who was one of a number of analysts attending the Farm Progress Show, said OEMs are focused on providing solutions through the crop cycle. Specifically, Deere and AGCO “highlighted the importance and buildout of solutions through the crop cycle to maximize efficiency,” he said.
Dobre said the precision farming “arms race” remains in full swing among manufacturers, which was prominently on display during the farm show.
“Precision ag continues to be a highlight of the show, with new model year features on display, though this year manufacturers seemed to put forth a more holistic approach helping farmers with crop decision-making process through the year,” he added.
Other observations from Dobre include:
• Deere emphasized a three-pronged approach of better machine performance, job performance and agronomic decisions
• AGCO has positioned itself as the only end-to-end provider, given its GSI grain-storage business
• Along with the introduction of the Fendt IDEAL combine, AGCO is looking to increase competition in the combine market, aiming to double its approximately $300 million global combine business within 3-5 years
• Overall industry sentiment got a slight boost with the announcement of the USDA assistance package for farmers suffering from tariffs, though overall trade tensions still add uncertainty
Trimble Launches New ‘Farmer Fit’ Software Tool
Trimble expanded its lineup of ag software solutions with the unveiling of the Farmer Fit option, designed to give farmers many of the same features as the higher tier Farmer Pro package at a cheaper price point ($83 per month compared to $149 per month).
The Farmer Fit includes many of the same capabilities as Farmer Pro, including a mobile app to track work orders and field records along with unlimited vehicle connections for fleet tracking. The key difference centers on fewer online user capabilities and vehicle connections to the platform, says Clint Dotterer, lead of strategic marketing for Trimble Ag’s software division.
The software is compatible with most equipment brands and comes with upgrades for real-time weather and performance efficiency tracking, Dotterer adds.
“It can also generate field activities, either online or on the phone with the mobile app,” Dotterer says. “You can then take those field activities and assign costs, manage inventory and transition to analyzing profitability and ROI once yield maps and yield data gets into the system.”
For more on editors’ observations at the Farm Progress Show, tune into the “Farm Progress Show” video series available on www.PrecisionFarmingDealer.com