How do you get a group of ag software engineers excited? Most engineers have similar traits. They want to provide new and better designs, and the best possible products. So you put them in a room together, and let them connect their software and hardware to check if they function as intended.

The Agricultural Electronics Foundation (AEF) came up with a way to make that happen. The event is called Plugfest, and it provides a chance for friends and competitors alike to come from around the globe to put aside that competition to work together for the good of their employers and customers.

Started in 2001, Plugfest began as a small group of engineers with the intent of ensuring that manufacturers of tractors, implements and components were interpreting the ISOBUS standard (ISO 11783) the same way. This is a tall order when dealing with a standard thousands of pages long, and why it’s such an important part of ag electronics.

In a beneficial version of round robin, partners pair their new applicable software to the machines that receive them, checking for communication problems and potential miscommunications. A custom matrix created for each Plugfest ensures that every testing attendee has a chance to connect with everyone at the event.

At the end of the conference, both those making the machines and those developing software for them walk away with new data and an invaluable understanding of how to improve their respective products.

The AEF sponsors the Plugfest event twice each year; Spring in North America and again in the Fall in Europe. This year, due to the Covid-19 epidemic, both events were canceled, but plans for Spring 2021 are moving forward. The Spring 2021 Plugfest is scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, March 3-5, in conjunction with the Commodity Classic show.

With the support from the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the AEF Plugfest will be part of the Commodity Classic show. It will be a great opportunity for farmers and all attendees to see the cooperation that goes on between manufacturers in solving problems and creating better software solutions.

Tours of the Plugfest will be available for those interested. Education sections will also be provided by AEF team leaders to talk about new developments and be available for questions. Both AEM and AEF are excited to provide this event and show what’s happening in precision ag.

The world of precision farming is no stranger to competition. Advancing technology creates a need for cutting-edge products to amaze buyers and surpass opponents. In the end, the goal is to provide equipment that will benefit the farmer. That’s the reason for the AEF Plugfest: to test new functionalities and compatibility before it reaches the field.

About the Author: This article is the fifth in a series of eight by the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF), an independent organization founded on October 28th, 2008 by seven international ag equipment manufacturers and two associations. Today eight manufacturers and three associations are working as core members together with 220 general members. They work to improve cross-manufacturer compatibility of electronic and electric components in agricultural equipment, and to establish transparency about compatibility issues. You can become a member and learn more about the AEF by visiting: or contact the AEF communications team: or

The Precision Ag - What's under the ISOBUS hood? series is brought to you by the AEF.

More from this Series

The AEF Mission — The development and support for the implementation of generally accepted standards for electric and electronic interfaces as well as standards for data exchange for the agricultural machinery industry. The AEF is providing a framework for the cooperation of all interested parties under the leadership of the core members whilst maintaining competition amongst all members. The AEF supports standardization organizations such as the International Standards Organization (ISO)

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