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Indiana Tech Company Helps Farmers Farm Data


Indiana Tech Company Helps Farmers Farm Data


farmlogsFarmers today have the ability to collect a lot of data about their operations, but managing all that data can be overwhelming. One Indiana company is helping growers to collect manage and interpret all the information they have. FarmLogs is company started by farmers for farmers who needed an easier way to collect and interpret the large amount of data they were collecting from their fields. Jesse Vollmar said farmers have different pieces of equipment all collecting data, but no way to allow this data to be collected and stored in one place, “Farmers deserve easier access to their data, and we want to tear down the barriers that the industry has put in place. We are creating an almost magical experience, where the data simply shows up in real time as the work is being done in the field. Most importantly, the technology that the team at Purdue is building is open-source, so farmers and their partners are no longer at the mercy of the big hardware manufacturers.”


farmlogs appTheir ISOBlue project is an open source program that works with a variety of machines and collects all the farmer’s data in one place.  Currently, farmers, agronomists, and consultants cannot easily access the useful data that is being generated by farming equipment because of the proprietary data collection systems put in place by agricultural equipment manufacturers. Modern farming equipment generally communicates via a standard ISOBUS network to a proprietary monitor in the tractor or harvester.  ISOBlue’s goal is to free the data by creating a small, low-cost (sub $300) device that forwards the information directly from ISOBUS to the smartphone via Bluetooth. From there, the farmers can easily access the data in real time on their smartphones or elsewhere in the cloud. Unlike other expensive telematics solutions from vendors such as John Deere and Trimble, ISOBlue uses the existing data connection already on the farmer’s smartphone, saving the cost of a dedicated connection. In addition, the device does not require expensive hardware. Ultimately, ISOBlue will provide farmers with cheaper and easier access to their data, which can be used to increase production and cost savings.


But just collecting data is not enough, “We have more data than people really know what to do with so we need to have software analyze and make recommendations to the grower.”

Vollmar says FarmLogs is an independent company that works with growers to help them manage and analyze the data they have collected, “Data can transform the way we farm. The data analysis can help farmers make better and more profitable decisions in the field.”  He added that all this data is only useful if it can be turned into practical recommendations. He believes that precision farming can have a big impact on agriculture, but growers must have easy access to the data and have the tools to make sense of the information they have.


What is ISOBlue?


ISOBlue is a small, low-cost (sub $300) device being developed at Purdue University that forwards information directly from ISOBUS ports on big agricultural equipment to farmers’ smartphones via Bluetooth. FarmLogs is sponsoring this project.


What is FarmLogs?


FarmLogs is an ag tech company that helps farmers digitally manage their farms and increase profitability. With FarmLogs’s user-friendly software and smartphone app, farmers can log activity in their fields and inventory, analyze farm operations, track rainfall, view crop history and maximize prices on yield. An alumnus of the winter 2012 batch of Y Combinator, FarmLogs is the leading management software for row crop farming and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


What kind of data do the ISOBUS ports on tractors collect?


Tractors have little ISOBUS ports sitting on them collecting data as they drive along, and this data is then used later to guide decisions in planting, harvest, and more. Data includes everything from whether or not the brake lights are on to how many fields have been planted on what days.


What problem is ISOBlue trying to fix?


Big agricultural equipment manufacturers lock data coming from the ISOBUS ports into cumbersome and expensive legacy systems. This results in two problems.


  1. If a farmer has a combine from one manufacturer and a sprayer from another, he will be obliged to pay twice for accessing the data in two different ways from two different expensive systems.
  2. Because the legacy systems are old and cumbersome, the farmers have to transport data around by sticking USB ports into one place to extract the data and another to format and send the data to their agronomists, tax accountants, or wherever else.


How does ISOBlue address these two problems?


ISOBlue gets the data from all of those ISOBUS ports sitting on the machines, filters out the unnecessary stuff (for example: are the brakelights on?), and puts the important data out there for anyone to do something with, unencumbered by any proprietary legacy system.


Plus, the data is automatically transported via Bluetooth to the farmers’ smartphones, which FarmLogs will then spit out in usable format. No more USB ports! Since ISOBlue uses the existing data connection already on the farmer’s smartphone, there’s no additional cost of a dedicated connection.


How will the data be accessed by farmers?


Since ISOBlue is an open-source project, the data being collected is going straight into the cloud. Any techie anywhere can capture that “proprietary” information, build an app, and put it directly into the hands of the farmer on the tractor any way they like.


FarmLogs plans to capture the data even faster—before it even gets into the cloud—and transport it automatically to the farmers’ smartphones via Bluetooth. FarmLogs will then spit out the data in a format that is easy for agronomists, tax accountants, and anyone else to use. Best of all, the farmers will have complete, immediate and cost-free control over their own data.


What does ISOBlue have to do with FarmLogs?


FarmLogs is a sponsor of ISOBlue. This means FarmLogs is intimately involved in the development of the project and is actively developing its current software to integrate ISOBlue as soon as the project is completed.