Sustainable Farming

Back in February, I attended the World of Ag Expo in Tulare California. While there, I noticed something was featured more prominently at this show as opposed to the shows I regularly attend in the Midwest.

Organic and sustainable farming booths and displays were everywhere, which, if you drove to the show from say Fresno, you saw multiple signs highlighting the prolonged drought they are in the midst of.

Spring has Sprung


Do not look now (or at least come back to finish reading this if you do), but something important started again this week for the new year. It is not something that was unexpected because it starts every year at about the same time. But it is always a little exciting to see it when it happens. I am not talking about my strawberry plants showing some green, my flowers blooming, or my trees budding – though those are all happening. No, instead I am talking about the USDA Crop Progress report starting again for the new crop season. The last one of 2014 was published on November 24th, 2014, so it has been a few cold months to get to this point.

ISOBUS Task Controller: Part 1

VIRTEC display.

A few months ago in this blog I gave a very broad overview of Task Controller (TC).  The Virtual Terminal is probably the best-known ISOBUS feature given its visual prominence, but TC is a popular topic to discuss in the ISOBUS world because it offers many intriguing possibilities … and seeks to fulfill many of the promises of precision agriculture across manufacturers.  I thought it would be useful to spell out some of the details of TC as it can be a quite confusing subject.  In this post, I will walk through the components and the steps of a typical TC session.

Reflections on Fall Plugfest

Logo for the AEF

The Fall ISOBUS Plugfest has wrapped up here in Senlis, France. This Plugfest set a new record for attendees and participants. The final tally was over 250 attendees, 40 different test stations, 137 participants, 82 implements, and over 2300 test slots. It was quite a busy event, so kudos to the organizing committee for working through all those logistics. The slots were shortened to 20 minutes each which is probably a bit too short, but there is ongoing conversation to increase that again … possibly using some “creative” means. And with so many people attending, the building facilities are also an important consideration which seems to have worked out quite well.

VIRTEC ISOBUS in Agricultural Engineering Education

Ag Engineering Students

For one specific set of students, a brand new school supply will be getting added to the mix. Students in the Ag Engineering program at Iowa State will be getting the opportunity to experiment with ISOBUS using DISTek’s recently released VIRTEC software libraries. There will be a couple different usage scenarios for VIRTEC at ISU. The first scenario will be for graduate research projects. The graduate students and the school work with a wide range of Ag equipment manufacturers developing cutting edge technologies, and connecting these technologies to ISOBUS is very beneficial. The second scenario will be for classroom lab exercises. These students will get a chance to do some real hands-on ISOBUS application development in a lab setting rather than simply learning about it in lectures and readings.

Big Data Conference

Big Data is collected during harvest

On August 25, 2014, Precision Ag put on a Big Data conference at Iowa State University in Ames. While the conference appeared to originally target producers more than the industry providing to the producers, the audience ended up being about 50/50 between those two groups. Attendance for the conference was approximately 300 people from all over the country.

2014 Corn and Soybean Planting Season

A tractor prepares a farm field for planting

The USDA released its 2014 report on prospective planting for the upcoming farming season a little over a week ago. Being a numbers person, I like to dig through these types of reports to see what interesting facts I can find. I will focus on corn and soybeans since I am in Iowa and that is about all we grow around here so those are the crops with which I am most familiar. Plus, those two crops comprise 40% of the total farmed acres in the United States.