One of the most important components in Precision Agriculture (PA) is communication between equipment’s.
Until recently, equipment of a brand often presented difficulty in communicating electronically with another equipment produced by a different brand. This problem created, and still creates many obstacles to the use of PA, particularly in the variable application of production factors.
The worldwide standard ISO 11783 (ISOBUS) defines communication standard parameters between agricultural machinery and equipment, mainly between tractors and agricultural implements, also encompassing the transfer between the mobile applications of these machines and the software used by the companies. It is the most important standard of communication between agricultural equipment, however, it leaves some room for misinterpretation leading to the emergence of some innovative but proprietary ISOBUS solutions.
To avoid this, the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (https://www.aef-online.org/) developed more precise guidelines, updating ISOBUS standard functionality and promoting greater clarity on the compatibility of ISOBUS products.
To buy new equipment, access the URL of the AEF, register yourself and check if the equipment you want to buy is compatible with the one that you already have. There are several compatibility levels and the application compatibility that you want may not be available. If the equipment is not in the AEF database, immediately distrust of its ISOBUS compatibility with other equipment. It may actually be compatible, but not in the applications you want to implement.
Another example of non-compatibility is at the software level. If you need a variable application map and you do it on an open source Geographic Information System (GIS), you will at least need its geographic format and within it, how the geographic database is structured. Sometimes, for some equipment the geographic database is structured in one way and for others it is structured in a totally different way. Companies create specific software to solve the geographic format of their equipment and not any other and thus, the electronic compatibility is verified but the compatibility of the geographic database format may not.
In short, when buying a new equipment make sure that: i) it is really ISOBUS in the applications that you want to develop; ii) you can create VRT maps in any open-format GIS software; iii) which geographic database format you need to use when you want to create a VRT map; and iv) how to convert the map to the tractor console.
Figure – Scheme describing ISOBUS (https://www.aef-online.org/the-aef/isobus.html#/ISOBUSVideos).