Isobus - The new communication system for agricultural machines27.12.2004
The amount of information recorded and needed by farmers is increasing rapidly in the agricultural business.
Tractors and implements are becoming more complex, relying on large quantities of electronic data to work properly. To ensure that the collected information can be fully utilised, the ISO 11783 international standard has been developed to harmonise the data interface between tractor, implements and onboard computers is standardised. The ISO 11783 standard has been jointly developed by tractor and implement manufacturers including John Deere, Fendt, Kverneland and Valtra. These manufacturers have also created a specification defining how this standard should be interpreted. This specification is commonly known as ISOBUS.
Modern implements and tractors have many functions that are automated or electronically controlled. Today’s agricultural machines therefore rely on at least one onboard computer. In addition, many measurements must be taken in order to make these functions work. For example, wheel speed and actual speed are constantly monitored so that the tractor can automatically reduce wheel slip. Similarly, fertiliser spreaders rely on speed information in order to adjust the amount of fertiliser being spread.
The ISOBUS system allows the Electronic Control Units (ECU) of the tractor and the implement to communicate and share information via a CAN bus. The implement can then use the actual speed that is being measured by the tractor and thus reduce the need for additional sensors on the implement itself. Thanks to the ISOBUS system, the implement and tractor are truly connected together as one machine.
Simple to use
Traditionally, complex implements have required their own specific Control Box allowing the operator to control the functions of the implement. This system works if only one implement and Control Box is needed. In all other cases, the operator must have a cabin full of different Control Boxes. With the ISOBUS system the role of the Control Box is handed over to the Virtual Terminal (VT), which is capable of controlling every ISOBUS-compatible implement regardless of its manufacturer. The operator requires only a single VT for this, which also allows him to control more than one implement at the same time.
The use of the ISOBUS system is simple. When connecting an implement without the ISOBUS system, the operator usually has to connect many cables to the Control Box. With an ISOBUS implement, the operator has to connect only one cable to the tractor’s Implement Bus Breakaway Connector. The Virtual Terminal can be in the cabin at all times, and it will automatically recognise the implement and download the control software from the implement ECU. After this the tractor-implement combination is ready for action.
The ISOBUS implement and tractor work together just like normal machines. In the future, however, it will be possible to go further. The implement could even start to control the tractor. For example, farmers often try to drive as fast as possible to maintain the full capacity of their loading wagon. There is always the risk that the capacity of the chopper is exceeded and will become stuck. With the ISOBUS system, the loading wagon could theoretically slow down the tractor speed and thus prevent overloading the chopper.
The ISOBUS system offers farmers many benefits. In the long run the farmer saves money, as he no longer has to pay for a new Control Box every time he buys a new implement. The single Virtual Terminal is simple to install ergonomically, and the use of the VT stays the same even if the implement is changed. The ISOBUS system also automates the implement settings, thus combining the implement, the tractor and the VT into a system that offers the same benefits as a self-propelled machine.
The recording of work data, such as working hours and area, is very important in modern farming. The ISOBUS system is perfect for this, allowing also the data to be transferred simply to the farm computer. The system can also handle precision farming tasks simply by connecting a GPS unit.
ISOBUS is really the communication system of the future. It offers many possibilities to ease the work of the farmer and to increase the productivity of the farm. With so many manufacturers already involved with the ISOBUS system, the future looks bright.
Isobus implement is connected by one cable to tractor connector.