One of the biggest problems farmers face is the interoperability of farming equipment due to different digital standards. This lack of interoperability is not only obstructing the adoption of new IoT technologies and slowing down their growth in Europe, it also inhibits the gain of production efficiency through smart farming methods. This use case thus integrates different machine communication standards to unlock the potential of efficient machine-to-machine communication and data sharing between machines and management information systems. When thinking about the connection between implements and tractors based on ISOBUS standard protocol, the interoperability between machinery already exists in the physical world. It does, however, not yet sufficiently exist in the digital world which is a major concern of equipment manufacturers. Therefore, the use case made it their main goal to address the discrepancy regarding interoperability between the physical and digital world to entirely reap the benefits of Internet of Things technology in agriculture in the future.
Rethinking communication standards
Like in any complex ecosystem, each actor has its very own agenda. The value chain of arable agriculture is no exception. Hence the use case team set out to square the circle and synergise the interests of end-users, equipment manufacturers, software providers as well as service providers.
First and foremost, however, to achieve greater usability for the person relying on those stakeholders, the farmer. Did their objectives raise your attention? Then let us take the time to explain how this horizontal use case achieves interoperability which overarches the vertical production management of all crucial actors, including Standard Development Organisations and the equipment industry in Europe.
Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced wireless communication technologies are key enablers to provide predictive insights to future outcomes of farming, drive real-time operational decisions, and reinvent business processes for faster, innovative action and game-changing business models. The agricultural tools, farm machinery and infrastructure that work in the fields are interoperable with each other which can improve the crop production and resource efficiencies. Large machinery systems are required for big fields with extensive cultivations of grain, maize, and soybeans under different climate conditions. This necessitates an infrastructure that enables direct and real-time two-way communication between agricultural machinery working in parallel, as well as communication with the farmer and his farm management system to update the working plans or to collect data of the operations carried out.
Work time (hours)
Data quality (error prevention)
Standards conversion accuracy
Every farmer wants his equipment to work seamlessly together, designed as one integrated system that is interoperable regardless of vendor. For them it is a challenge to make all devices work together in the digital space, as there are different platforms using vendor specific communication. However, interoperability of IoT devices and machinery was still in its infancy when the team started their research. An essential part of their standardised information exchange are unified data models based on the conversion within the ADAPT (Agricultural Data Application Programming Toolkit) framework of AgGateway. Furthermore, ecosystem and information models for the NGSI-LD context information management and lastly machine communication through EFDI (Extended Farm Management Information Systems Data Interface) guidelines by AEF for streaming machine data to software. Such event driven models are a new approach for standardising data flows, going beyond canonical domain models (design pattern used to communicate between different data formats). To push the boundaries even further in the future, the use case enables service providers to add value to the data based on a basic API. API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other.
Aligning various stakeholders
On top of catering to the needs of all major stakeholders in arable farming, the team mainly focused on the applicability of their solution. In these regards, they increasingly collaborate with our arable use cases Within-Field Management Zoning and Soya Protein Management.
Together they defined an experimental setup of relevant scenarios and case studies. The varying requirements of each scenario lead to a heterogeneous network which is flexible enough to properly cover all the requirements of the analysed scenarios. It helped to further enhance and implement the harvest logistics application as a showcase of the enormous capabilities of IoT technologies. The use cases also collaborated on yield data validation as an example of data quality assurance. Several spatial data algorithms and models for data assimilation algorithms have been developed and are now ready to analyse yield data. It demonstrates the interoperability across brands and the added value: live monitoring of harvesters and grain carts, improved coordination among operators through field and vehicles visual overview and guidance, automatic documentation of operations and batches, operation time optimisation with guided assistance for all vehicles, and reduced infield traffic and consequently soil compaction. All of this while keeping the main goal in mind: real-time optimisation, in comparison to the current agricultural data management which is not in real-time and involve extensive off-line data processing.
Available ADAPT plug-ins
Companies supporting standardised API development
Standard adopted by standardisation organisation
The interaction between the use case, the standard development organisations AEF and AgGateway and the European Agricultural Machinery Associations (CEMA) has spurred the motivation to extend their research in a subsidy project called ATLAS (Agricultural Interoperability and Analysis Systems). The results obtained during the IoF2020 projects will be applied in ATLAS to design the next generation of interoperability solutions across the digital ecosystem of smart agriculture. That all those achievements were only possible by overcoming challenges might not come as a surprise. During the project, there were two important data initiatives that became public: Agrirouter of DKE-Data and DataConnect. DataConnect is a partnership between the original equipment manufacturers to share data between their cloud solutions for their farm machinery and management software providers. DataConnect allows for the secure viewing and handling of these basic machine data elements, including current and historical machine location, current fuel tank level, working status and forward speed. Multiple machines or fleets from different brands can be viewed from a single portal with no additional hardware or software components required. The DataConnect ICT infrastructure centralises the portals of AFS Connect (Case IH), MyPLM Connect (New Holland), S-Tech (Steyr), John Deere Operations Centre, Claas TELEMATICS and 365FarmNet. The companies are members and supporters of the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) and committed to sharing their experiences to support a standardised data interface architecture, similar to ISOBUS, across the entire agricultural machinery industry.
Achievements, products & services
Applying communication standards such as ADAPT and NGSI-LD for effective offline interoperability and cloud communication
Real-time communication between FMIS cloud solutions and equipment manufacturers
Unified data models for easy data transfer and conversion
Service providers can add value to data based on a single API