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Last spring, Hacker connected a cus-

tomer’s John Deere planter with another brand of tractor through a Trimble FmX Integrated Display and was able view some — but not all — of the farmer’s precision applications through the ISO- BUS display. To allow the customer to see and con- trol all planter functions — outside of the ISO connection — took several ad- ditional hours.

“At this point, you could take an FmX display and spend an hour, put the cable in, hook the monitor up, get everything configured and it’s ready to go,” Hacker says. “But if you are doing all the planter control and everything through the FmX display outside of ISO, then you’ve got several hours worth of time and set-up. “Doing that every year for a custom-

er, an hour vs. 12 hours or whatever it would take, there is some significant cost associated with that.”

Playing Catch Up Hacker says he isn’t on board with the ISOBUS concept yet, because he doesn’t want to mislead customers about its value and risk promising a solution he can’t deliver.

“I’ve cautioned customers not to just jump into this and get ourselves in a situation where we’re into planting season and something’s not working right,” he says. “If it’s an ISO compat- ibility issue, my hands are kind of tied on what I can do.” The last thing precision dealers want is to give farmers a false assurance that ISO is the answer to all their compat- ibility problems because the term of- ten means something different to each customer, notes Doug Prairie, product manager for planter, seeder and harvest controls for Raven Industries. The challenge for manufacturers is to provide a level of ISO integration that truly allows customers to be able to get the most out of their technology. Some run proprietary software, which creates confusion about the compatibility ISO offers to farmers. This can muddy con- fidence in the technology. “There is some electronic finger point-

ing that goes on in some cases,” Prairie says. “The tractor says the implement is to blame, and the implement says the

One of the goals of ISOBUS is to reduce clutter in the tractor cab by utilizing one display to monitor precision functions. Currently, farmers with different brands of farm equipment often need multiple monitors to be able to track all of their precision technology.

tractor is to blame, and the customer is caught in between.”

This also puts precision farming spe-

cialists in a difficult position of trying to make different brands of farm machin- ery work together, when software com- ponents don’t communicate well. The end result for some farmers is be- ing able to utilize only a portion of their precision functions through their ISO connection, or being forced to add an extra monitor.

“I see some customer’s cabs where

you can’t even see out because they have so many monitors,” says Lanty “Spud” Armstrong, precision farming special- ist at Ag Technologies Inc. in Roches- ter, Ind. “I’d love to be able to get them down to one and for that reason, ISO needs to happen. “But right now, because most compa-

nies’ ISO products won’t let farmers see everything, guys are still going to end up with an extra monitor in there to make it work.”

Manufacturers need to get on the same page and iron out the functional- ity wrinkles before broader adoption oc- curs, dealers say.

“The biggest downside is manufac- turers don’t always want to help out if you have an issue,” says Jeremy Dasher, precision farming specialist at Archbold Equipment Co., a Case IH dealership in Archbold, Ohio. “It’s a matter of getting them together, so precision dealers aren’t behind the eight ball when we’re trying to work with ISO.”


Working Together While there is an incentive for com- panies that produce both tractors and implements to have their brand of ma- chinery running together on a farm — in conjunction with their precision-tech- nology platform — they acknowledge the value of ISO standardization. The Agricultural Industry Electron- ics Foundation (AEF), an independent international organization, is working with manufacturers to eliminate some of the ISO mystery for dealers and their customers. John Deere, Case IH and AGCO are three of more than 50 com- panies working with AEF to test and certify ISO components with the goal of creating a standardized platform. More than ever, there’s a push by manufacturers to create a uniform ISO standard that will further simplify com- patibility for dealers and their custom- ers, says Trevor Mecham, marketing manager for Advanced Farming Sys- tems (AFS) for Case IH. “Farmers want a one-stop shop,” says Mecham, an AEF board member. “They don’t want something to have to be add- ed on. The technology needs to be built- in and integrated, so if the farmer wants to make a change with his or her planter or tractor, they have the capability to run what they want together.”

Although the ISO standard was in- troduced in North America more than a decade ago, it’s potential is only just starting to be realized by dealers. Dasher eased into the technology re- cently by working with a customer to set up Case IH’s AccuControl system on a John Deere 7200 series planter. By start- ing small, Dasher was able to deliver what the customer wanted.

“It was just simply for seed monitor-

ing, but it worked out reasonably well,” he says. “We had a couple of glitches, but now he’s looking to add row clutch- es and start doing more operations.”

ISO’s Future

Increasing farm customer demand is pushing manufacturers to develop better ISO solutions for the future and com- pensate for compatibility shortcomings of the past.

“In the past, I think, ISO has been ad- vertised for more than it was,” says Rhett


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