ifm Agri-Mate set for Australian trials

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With a section control offer already under development, ifm efector’s ISOBUS gateway the Agri-Mate is set for trials Down Under in the next few months

A new product that allows ISOBUS-compatible tractors and implements to connect more easily will be tested on Australian farms in coming months.

The Agri-Mate, created by ifm efector, acts as a gateway between tractors and implements and allows them to be linked regardless of brand, saving development costs and time for manufacturers.

Feedback gained during the Australian testing phase will help to influence future updates, with plans already in place to add section control to the Agri-Mate.

Configuration is simple using premade libraries

Ifm product sales manager for mobile control systems Adi Kunder says some units have already been sold to customers since being introduced to Australia earlier this year.

"The next phase would be to do more field tests to nut out any other issues, get feedback from operators and farmers for our OEM [original equipment manufacturer] customers to see where we can change or what improvements we can do.

"We are hoping we will have some more results in the next two to three months."

Described by Kunder as a "gateway", the Agri-Mate’s purpose is to display information on a tractor’s display screens relevant to an attached implement.

It is ultimately aimed at reducing automation development times for small to medium-sized OEMs, which often create several new implements every year and struggle to have the necessary resources to devote to automating them.

"With this ISOBUS Agri-Mate, it sits in between the tractor and the implement control system, so the implement control system will have all the ifm hardware and the ISOBUS Agri-Mate will take all the information from the implement and convert that into an ISOBUS standard and display it on the universal terminal in the tractor," Kunder says.

The Agri-Mate sits between a tractor and an implement, takes information from the implement and displays it on a screen in the tractor cab

The next step for Agri-Mate will be the addition of section control, which ifm’s German engineers are developing in response to Australian customer feedback and which Kunder recently saw demonstrated.

It is aimed primarily at sprayer users, Kunder says, who want to spray within the boundaries of a paddock and without doubling-up on areas already covered.

"With section control, because it’s coordinating with the GPS position as well, when it sees the tractor implement is going to move over the boundary of the paddock, it turns off that section so that it’s not spraying outside the boundaries," Kunder says.

"When it turns and comes around, it knows that it has already sprayed the section. It then turns off so there is no overlap spraying on top of already sprayed areas, because obviously the fertilisers and chemicals are costly, and farmers want to avoid that.

"This is a feature we’re going to have, where our device would be able to work with the section control of the virtual terminal essentially and give customers an added benefit.

"Customers don’t need to know anything that happens in the background – all they get is a pre-made package from ifm on the device and we’ve got premade libraries written for our ifm controllers. They just program that part and then the visual terminal makes the decision and tells our device which section to turn on and off."

Other planned changes to Agri-Mate based on customer feedback include the addition of custom images and icons such as company logos to the virtual terminal.

Kunder says this has also been passed on to ifm’s German engineers for development, as will any other suggested additions based on upcoming Australian field testing.

The ISOBUS Agri-Mate takes info and converts it into an ISOBUS standard

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