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Digital agriculture: Farms reveal their data using a smart device

Vbox (c) Exotic Systems

02/24/2017

The Vbox allows farmers to assess the fuel consumption of their agricultural machinery and eventually, the quality of their harvests, through an on-board data acquisition system developed by the Exotic Systems start-up and used in an Irstea research project. Let’s take a closer look at this innovative device.  

How can the energy consumption of a farm be optimized? This is the research question at the heart of the EDEN project. To reduce energy expenditure, researchers looked at the fuel consumption of tractors and other vehicles. However, this data has to be acquired somehow. While recent vehicles come with sensors, the older vehicles often used by farmers do not, which makes it impossible to monitor their consumption.

Irstea researchers therefore reached out to Exotic Systems for help as their on-board data acquisition system for vehicles has been adapted for an agricultural context. Researchers and employees from the start-up installed a network of sensors on a tractor to measure its fuel consumption in real time, according to geolocation and work performed (plowing, spreading, sowing). Ingenious! This ‘intelligent’ fuel gauge is linked to an electronic control unit that saves and stores the data. Once analyzed and compared by Irstea researchers, these were used to develop performance indicators for various surfaces, types of crops or equipment, to help create farming methods that optimally manage energy consumption. And that’s not all; the on-board system developed by Exotic Systems takes it one step further! Vbox can be used to combine, geolocalize, date and time stamp all types of data. Eventually, it will be possible to measure harvest quality and spreading feedback (route, quantity dispersed). This type of information is key in optimizing farm management and

improving our understanding of digital practices in agriculture.

It seems there are as many applications as there are uses. Exotic Systems’ strength lies in their ability to analyze common practices in farming in order to propose suitably adapted technology. “We will continue to work in partnership with Irstea to understand how connected objects are being incorporated into the agricultural sector,” explains Guillaume Blanc, President of Exotic Systems.

“Our aim is to provide farmers with new, simple, digital tools - daily companions that can provide them with extra eyes and ears to be used where they are needed to improve their quality of life and farming performance,” he continues. This common practice evaluation platform will be presented for the first time at the International Trade Show for Agriculture and Livestock Suppliers at Villepinte, from February 26 to March 2, 2017. To find out more about the ‘intelligent’ fuel gauge and other farming support technologies, come and visit Irstea’s Connected Farm stand at the International Agri-business Show in Paris from February 25 to March 5, Hall 4, Stand B4009.

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