Ag equipment companies participated in an ISOBUS Plugfest at University of Nebraska's East Campus Union in mid-May. The Plugfest gave equipment companies a chance to see how compatible their products are with other brands of ag equipment using what is becoming a universal nine-pin electronic communications connection called the ISOBUS.
The ISOBUS would allow different brands of displays, implements and controllers to communicate with each other and work together through a common display, called a virtual terminal or V.T. in the tractor cab. The three major U.S. tractor manufacturers currently offer an ISOBUS connection as either a standard or optional feature on most of the larger tractors they make.
Many makers of sprayers, planters, balers and spreaders also offer ISOBUS as a standard or optional feature, or can retro-fit equipment to use the connection if the operator wants it. European equipment manufacturers are several years ahead of their North American counterparts in adopting the system, according to Jim Shone, sales director of TeeJet Technologies.
"Five years ago, if you pulled five implements, you might have five different controllers. Now, you only need one terminal in the cab to manage that. And if you had a fleet of two or three tractors, you could pull any ISOBUS implement with any ISOBUS tractor," says Shone.
William Rudolph of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says the need for a universal communications standard for ag equipment has been under discussion among engineers and manufacturers for more than 20 years. It's gradually happening, he says, and it's consumer-driven, rather than by government mandates.