Le numérique en agriculture

Digital Tech in agriculture

One of SIMA 2019 major trends, from collecting reliable data to leveraging them for increasingly advanced decision-making, to acquire new agronomic knowledge.

Data collection

Digital technology is first and foremost a question of collecting data on all aspects of farm production, whether this applies to plants, climate, soil, livestock or machines. Here, innovations apply to areas previously untouched by progress in measurement and sensors.
For example, the Limacapt system by De Sangosse and Cap 2020 (Bronze Medal) helps to count and monitor the activity of slugs throughout the night. This tool, which is more efficient than manual traps, thus enables highly detailed analysis of the risks caused by this pest, and therefore provides information to take the right decisions for action.

In the area of extensive farming, Beiser Environnement offers a connected fodder rack (Bronze Medal) which can both alert the breeder in the event of lacking fodder and, more importantly, to monitor the daily fodder consumption of the herd.

Monitoring machine activity

Monitoring machine activity is an issue which manufacturers have been trying to address since the beginning of the 1980s. This year, various manufacturers offer solutions dealing with the need for the automatic and reliable recording of machine activity. This is the main sticking point (zero data entry) which persists before the industry can go even further in measured agriculture and the leverage of agronomic data.

The connected meter by Karnott (Bronze Medal) is an entirely autonomous device which can be used to monitor the activity of any item of farm equipment, from carried implements to containers for trucks. Powerful algorithms process positioning data to calculate the activity of the equipment, journeys resulting from transport and work, working width and the surface area covered. It thus simplifies the generation of works slips and invoicing.

The RFID A-100 Asset Tag by Trimble (Bronze Medal) monitors the activity of farm equipment but using a quite different method: these Bluetooth tags reliably identify any non-Isobus implement coupled to a tractor and the driver in attendance. This identification incorporates Isobus implements (already recognised by the tractor display), non-Isobus implements and drivers in the work performance log. In addition, this tag automatically sets the display’s auto guidance function according to the width of the implement that is recognised.

The Climate FieldView platform by Climate Corporation (Bronze Medal) also incorporates an automated machine data collection system with the Field View Drive terminal. This device, plugged into the tractor’s OBD, collects data from whatever tractor and Isobus machines are being used. The Climate Fieldview platform then enables the user to analyse the data collected, by cross-referencing, for example, machine work data (yield, application of inputs) with soil maps, remote sensing images, etc.

The analysis of agronomic data

This is what Bosch proposes with the Field Sensor (Silver Medal) in association with the start-up Hiphen. The system combines field sensors (weather station, soil probe and multispectral camera) with remote sensing data sources. The aim of this system is to match very high spatial resolution data (remote sensing images from drones and/or satellites) with very high-repetition data (one image per day of the same zone of the field).

It is the same type of approach that Airbus Defence and Space and John Deere have adopted with Live Nbalance (Silver Medal - cf photo above): very accurately and regularly monitoring nitrogen uptake by the crop in order to detect the early signs of any anomalies and achieve, at the end, a precise balance between nitrogen input and crop uptake. Here again, the aim is to bring together remote sensing data (with a frequency of under a week) with machine data on the date of treatment, quantities and - for organic fertilisers - the content of these amendments. It can be noted that designing innovative services is increasingly a matter for partnerships between players which each contribute their specific know-how and skills.

Produit Kuhn médaille d'argent SIMA Innovation Aawards 2019

Precision Farming

Digital technology is also about Precision Farming applications and, in particular, the possibility of modulating actions during work. This is what is offered by Case IH with its connected electrical weed killer (Bronze Medal). This implement is an alternative to the use of chemical herbicides and works by electrocuting weeds. Its efficacy is piloted directly from soil and weather data. Depending on the designated zones, the tractor’s forward speed will vary in order to guarantee the maximum efficiency of this “digital weeder”. The tractor speed variation is enabled by the use of an Isobus class 3 connection (control of the tractor by the implement). This type of control is also a major trend in this 2019 edition, as illustrated by the increasing number of applications of Isobus class 3 at the present time.

Precision Farming also requires the transmission of modulation maps from the farm management computer to the tractor display and, in return, the collection of working data. With the AutoSync system (Bronze Medal), Trimble offers a solution which greatly simplifies all these exchanges by making them entirely straightforward, seamless and instantaneous. In real time, data can be exchanged, shared, corrected, etc., between the central computer and the displays of several tractors.

Maintenance

Digital technology is also used in maintenance (improvingbreakdown detection, maintenance operations, etc.).

The John Deere Connected Support (Silver Medal) combines the highly-detailed preventive detection of breakdown risk, based on the behavioural analysis of machines drawing on data collected from thousands of machines all over the world, with the management of alerts and maintenance priorities in the dealership. This improves the reactivity of the technicians in the dealership. Their tasks are scheduled to reduce travel time and coincide with machine downtime to avoid disruption to any ongoing work.

The KUHN Redvista application (Silver Medal - cf photo above) uses augmented reality technology to help the machine user or the dealership technician conduct exhaustive and regular maintenance of machines. It helps to optimise the functioning and lifespan of the machine and its components. This application adds an entertaining aspect to crucial tasks such as servicing and adjusting machines.

This use of digital technology to simplify and facilitate tasks which are often time consuming is also behind the vocal assistant Fernand proposed by Isagri (Bronze Medal). Fernand is a computerized personal assistant to help farmers in their everyday tasks, based on voice recognition and artificial intelligence. This voice assistant gives simple and fast smartphone access to essential information found in management and operational software.

By Jean-Marc Bournigal, chairman of the judging panel and Gilbert Grenier, Frédéric Vigier, René Autellet, technological advisers to SIMA, judge rapporteurs.