An increasing reliance on machinery technology to achieve productivity and efficiency benefits across the agriculture industry is fuelling greater capital investment in taking this innovation to the next level while managing the complex dynamics of consumer expectations and industry demands.
Sean McColley, AFS Product Manager for Case IH Australia/New Zealand, said it was an exciting time to be involved in agriculture, as the industry globally faced the prospect of feeding and clothing a rapidly growing population, and farmers sought to meet these demands with higher outputs while balancing the challenges. Sean said:
“Ag tech, such as the advent of telematics, is transforming our industry and the take-up of these technologies by farmers in Australia is very high. The amount and value of the data generated is enormous and giving farmers a level of information that was unthinkable even 10 years ago, providing significant benefits and opportunities around productivity and profitability.”
“This includes both machinery and agronomic data, which allow for more informed decisions around the business and ultimately reduce downtime through the minimisation of machinery issues and breakdowns.”
The data from the machine itself could be shared with the customer’s local dealership to keep on top of any operational and service issues, while there was the option to loop in the likes of an agronomist on the agronomic data that’s generated, Sean said, but ultimately the management of all this information remained with the customer.
Sean said Case IH, in the development of their suite of technologies, also prioritised the openness and connectedness across the machinery range and the need for its Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) products to work with other machinery brands within a customer’s fleet. An example is the Case IH AFS Vector Pro GNSS receiver, available on AFS Connect Steiger and AFS Connect Magnum tractors, which can connect to a wide range of third-party RTK base stations. Sean said:
“Since the introduction of technology, data and computer systems into agriculture, we have recognised the need for flexibility around operation and compatibility, and in this respect we certainly know it’s not practical to expect customers to have only the one brand of machinery on their farm. Many customers are managing a mixed fleet of machines, needing them to work together to get the job done, so Case IH has taken the approach that connectivity and compatibility is key.”
This ground-up approach of compatibility is inherent in the entire architecture of both the on- and off-board systems moving forward, including ISOBUS implement and machine control management on the machine, a significant increase in third-party compatibility and software integration.
Working examples of this philosophy include AFS Connect, which is available to anyone who wants to experience a true online Farm Management Information System (FMIS) with the option for automatic data transfer from connected machines via AFS Connect telematics. Sean said AFS Connect telematics were complimentary for three to five years with new machine purchases, with re-subscriptions for less than $1/day after that time. Sean said:
“Growers shouldn’t be penalised for using the right tool for the job, with Case IH delivering solutions that will slot into an existing fleet seamlessly, fitting your operation, on your terms.”