Understanding ISOBUS | What is ISOBUS? How can I use ISOBUS on my farm?

June 14, 2021

With dozens of moving parts in any farm operation, the last thing farmers need to worry about is the ability of their fleets and equipment to communicate with each other. Thankfully, these issues are becoming part of the past thanks to industry-wide ISOBUS collaboration.

What is ISOBUS?

ISOBUS is the standard protocol that allows agricultural machinery, equipment, and implements to essentially “talk” to each other. Before it came to be, attempting to make this happen required additional control devices, cords, manuals, and unnecessary cab clutter. Adaption of the ISOBUS system and the availability of ISOBUS-certified equipment has helped farmers increase their productivity, reduce their overall operational costs and save time. 

In real terms, this ability broadens the ways in which you can get work done by enabling you to select the best equipment for your needs. It unlocks the ability for every part of your operation to communicate with ease. With ISOBUS-certified equipment, everything becomes “plug and play,” with standardized plugs, cables, and software. If a piece of equipment has ISOBUS, you can plug it into any display and get the same user interface (UI) and workflow, display to display, tractor to tractor. 


Whether you have ISO-ready equipment or you’d like to retrofit your implements, there are two basic components every grower needs to get started with ISOBUS: a Universal Terminal compatible display (think computer monitor, and you’ll have a basic idea of this display’s function) and an ISO Electronic Controlled Unit (ECU), which provides the intelligence for the equipment and the ability to control it from the cab. 

Additional ISOBUS functionality and features build upon these two basic components. If you’re not familiar with this technology, your equipment or precision ag dealer can definitely get you started. 

ISOBUS For My Farm

The great part about incorporating ISOBUS into your operation is that you can pick and choose what works best for your farm. You don’t have to remain brand loyal to any particular tractor or equipment brand (unless, of course, that’s a priority for you), and the certification guarantees that everything can talk to each other. This gives you the freedom to invest in the right equipment for your needs and improves the ability to assess the total value of your equipment. 

There’s a good chance that many of the tools you rely on for your day-to-day work already are ISOBUS certified, and integration may be easier than you think if you haven’t already done so. And don’t forget about the resale value – if you’re looking to trade in or trade up, having that ISOBUS certification adds value for the next owner.

The History of ISOBUS in Agriculture

At the very least, ISOBUS is a term you’ve likely heard thrown around, but what exactly is it? It’s a technology protocol and the brainchild of the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF). This organization was founded to address known incompatibility issues within the industry. The AEF has established cross-manufacturer compatibility of ag equipment electronics and electric components.

This is something the industry knew was needed: it doesn’t just benefit their customers, it also helps these companies design and build equipment that is better prepared to communicate, offers more functional value, and better meets the needs of their customers. Working together, more than 200 industry members are ensuring transparency about known compatibility issues and improving cross-manufacturer compatibility. 

How ISOBUS Works in Ag

Farmers can register for access to the AEF database, which provides information on ISOBUS-certified equipment, implements, and accessories. More than 40 manufacturers are listed in the database, making a quick search easy and educational. This information also helps separate the wheat from the chaff – items marketed as  “ISOBUS prepared” or “ISOBUS light” are not certified and won’t be listed in the database.

Knowing this simple difference can help you avoid wasting time and money on products and equipment that will need extensive troubleshooting to get up and running or not work at all. It’s not to say that equipment identified this way won’t work, but it will require you to try them out. Purchasing ISOBUS-certified equipment and implements pretty much guarantees you can skip these steps.

Trimble Solutions with ISOBUS

The Trimble Field-IQ system makes it easy to connect your ISOBUS-certified implements, get into the fields, and get to work. The Field-IQ™ crop input control system is an ISOBUS-certified solution that allows you to take complete control of your crop inputs. Instead of finding room for multiple displays in your cab, you can use just one and have complete control at your fingertips when using ISOBUS-certified equipment. 

In addition to our Field-IQ™ crop input control system, Trimble also offers the ISOBUS liquid control system, which can be used on any implement applying liquid for an operation. Connecting this system is easy – just plug it into any ISOBUS terminal.

Keeping an eye on the weather through all seasons – from field prep to harvest – is simplified with Trimble’s Field-IQ™ ISOBUS Weather Station. This unit calculates both apparent and true wind speed, as well as direction, without requiring any additional sensors. Internal temperature and barometric pressure sensors help predict changing weather patterns, help plan your day as well as give you real-time weather information while at work. Even better, the unit also calculates the Delta T value, one of the standard indicators for determining acceptable spray conditions.

Sharing the same communication ease as our other ISOBUS certified products, the Weather Station sensor determines field-specific weather data and displays it on an ISOBUS terminal. It also offers an additional functionality – the ability to save weather data in your records. It’s great both for your current growing needs and when planning for future crop rotations and harvests.

Helping You Work Better

The ag industry is constantly looking for ways to improve our products by adding value whenever and wherever possible. The adoption of ISOBUS as an industry standard is a major step forward in helping our customers improve their efficiencies and improve overall operational profitability.  To learn more, contact your local Trimble Reseller today.


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