We interviewed Ivan K, one of our key project managers, about his recent participation in AEF Fall Plugfest 2018. AEF stands for Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation and has 200 general members. Plugfests are held twice a year, in Fall and Spring seasons, to test the equipment and software that are produced by the member companies following the ISO 11783-10 standard. Those companies focus on different aspects of innovative farming: agricultural and gardening machinery, grain and protein solutions, and software that collects and analyzes all data that farmers can use to increase efficiency.
For the past year, we’ve been working on the first cloud Farming Management Information System (FMIS) with ISOBUS integration: MyEasyFarm.
What’s so cool about it?
Imagine you’re a farmer. You’ve got fields, maps, equipment, and farm workers. You spend time tracking the tractors, calculating the amount of fertilizers, trying to predict the weather forecast, making lists of tasks, analyzing the soil and crop growth. A-a-and having a fun time communicating all of that to your workers. Sounds like a nightmare.
MyEasyFarm offers a profound solution: it integrates the equipment, collects all data, allows task creation. Moreover, it uses satellite maps to optimize tractor routes and tracks crop development from field preparation to yield. The workers get their own mobile app for task tracking, sharing their current location, and equipment assistance. All of that becomes a solid base for your farm’s efficiency.
Ivan, the technical team lead of the project, joined MEF delegation for a few days at the Plugfest and shared a few thoughts with us afterwards.
What’s your general impression of the fest? How did it go?
It was quite interesting. At first it might seem that all members are competitors in the market, but in reality, each of them is actually interested in compatibility across all manufacturers and brands. That’s a great spirit! And almost everyone has met before and known each other, so it felt like we were all a part of one big community.
What was the agenda?
The first three days we were testing the machines on emulators or the actual devices if they were small enough for the manufacturer to bring to the event. On the 4th day, we had face-to-face meetings within our groups. We were a part of the PT9 group responsible for the development of FMIS, Farm Management Information Systems. We discussed the development plans for the rest of this year and the next one, 2019. There were some brilliant ideas and I’m looking forward to seeing them come to life.
Can you share some of those?
Sure. For example, in one of the other groups, there was a discussion on a universal protocol for sharing of agro data. Just imagine how profitable that would be for the whole farming industry if we could share field and equipment data across different systems: data transferring between cloud storages, FMISes, FMISes and devices, not needing to support different protocols.
This would save up resources and optimize equipment capabilities. The most exciting part is that this isn’t some idea that just came up. It was first introduced by Norbert Schlingmann on AEF Plugfest in 2016 and it is on the way of implementation, step by step.
Some other innovations like autopilot system for trucks are also discussed across the groups and I am looking forward to seeing what agriculture and farming industry will look like in the next 5 years.
That sounds like we’re breaking new ground! And where do you think these innovations will be implemented first?
All organizations under AEF are private companies, but there are still some demographics by which I could tell which countries and markets will acquire it first: Germany, Italy, France, the US, and Japan.
Alright. Now, the most interesting part: was it helpful for MyEasyFarm, the project you’re managing? What did you learn?
Our client’s team is one of the few companies that develop software with the AEF and following their standard. Our main goal was to conduct the interaction testing, which basically means to see how data that we collect is processed by different devices and equipment, how it is displayed, and whether they have any trouble importing it. All of that is very helpful for the product.
At this point, MyEasyFarm offers a quite advanced visualized time log:
When the truck is in the field, it has a fertilizer spreader attached to it and every second it logs the application rate and intensity with which the fertilizer is being sprayed. This data is essential for understanding of how much fertilizer you actually need and where it’d be best for the plants. It was the first time we saw this data with an opportunity to analyze how it’s processed and drew conclusions on how the time log could be improved.
Also, we got our own virtual terminal on which we’ll be able to see the data under a special testing license. Now we can report bugs to the provider and use the advantage of direct communication.
Together with the manufacturers, we collected information on which formats work best for them and how we should be sending the data from our system. It will be helpful for integration of MyEasyFarm into their devices.
Awesome. Thank you for giving us an insight into the whole event and project details. Anything you’d like to add?
Yes. I’d like to say thank you to Francois, the CEO of MyEasyFarm, for this fruitful collaboration. The whole dvhb team is excited about the next steps and we’re looking forward to the upcoming Agrirouter event!