AgGateway will begin initial testing next week of its Standardized Precision Ag Data Exchange (SPADE) Conversion Toolbox. The test will take place in Lincoln, Neb., at PlugFest, an agricultural machinery compatibility testing event organized by the Agricultural Electronics Manufacturers Foundation (AEF) and hosted by the National Tractor Testing Lab. The SPADE team expects to release the completed toolbox by late summer.
The SPADE Conversion Toolbox addresses a pressing need in agriculture: interoperability, or the ability of farm systems to “talk” to each other. It is a set of software tools designed to simplify field operations data exchange by farm management software companies, farm equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders.
Farm equipment now collects vast amounts of data to capture such information as how much product was applied or crop harvested, where it was applied, and when. That information can be used to farm more accurately and efficiently.
“The problem is that it’s often very hard for growers and their partners to get to that data, so most of it goes unused,” said Andres Ferreyra, Ph.D., Manager of Special Projects in Ag Connections, Inc., and the SPADE Management Team Lead. “Stakeholders in agriculture spend a lot of time and effort converting between multiple proprietary data formats in order to get anything done. The SPADE Conversion Toolbox will make a huge difference in breaking that data format logjam.”
“When all the equipment and software are speaking the same language, communication across the industry finally becomes possible,” said Joe Tevis, Ph.D., Director of Agronomic Products and Services for Topcon Precision Agriculture, and SPADE Project Chair.
All of the standards and formats created by AgGateway are open standards for all to access and use, and they can be used globally. There is no fee to access or use AgGateway standards; the industry as a whole can benefit.
The value of AgGateway’s standards-driven effort was echoed by Dennis Daggett, Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at ProAg, and current Chair of AgGateway’s Precision Ag Council.
“A comprehensive standard for data exchange will be huge for agriculture,” he said. “There’s often a clear before-and-after when standards emerge in agriculture – think of ‘3-point-hitch’ or ‘quick hydraulic couplers’… Standardization in these areas made life a lot easier for everyone involved.”
AgGateway’s effort is comprehensive, and ranges from implementation of standards in multiple segments of the industry to laying a firm foundation through a comprehensive glossary of agricultural terms and definitions.
“A glossary clearly defines the data being collected and transmitted. The AgGateway glossary is being developed in conjunction with other standards organizations and regulatory groups. This takes a little more time, but develops accuracy and credibility for what we are doing,” added Daggett.