Articles, Blog

Ag Leader Celebrates 25 Years of Innovation

November 4, 2019


[music] In 1986, Al Myers took a risk that six years later paid off with a product that forever
changed how farmers feed the world. That’s when he invested his own time and
money to personally begin work on an on-the-go yield monitor. When this product, later named the Yield Monitor
2000, went to market in 1992 – Ag Leader Technology was born. Four short years later, while the ag market
was still trying to decide if Al Myers had just created the new ‘standard’ in farming,
Ag Leader once again changed the ag landscape – the GPS 2000 receiver was released in 1996. Now in addition to on-the-go yield monitoring,
farmers could actually see maps showing where the yields were changing in their fields with
the use of spatial information. When the PF3000 monitor went to market in
1998, Ag Leader’s “Year Round” mentality became evident. You could now track your planting and application
operations with as much accuracy as you had while recording your yield data. As Ag Leader promised growers that more information
would help them make better decisions, it became apparent we needed to offer a robust
program for viewing and analyzing that information. So in 2000, SMS Basic came to fruition, giving
growers the ability to see, print and organize their data. Continuing the evolution, in 2003, Ag Leader
re-engineered the PF product line by introducing the PFAdvantage, which monitored grain, cotton
and bulk crops for reliable field records and yield maps. That same year, SMS Advanced mapping software
took precision farming data to the next level; coupling the usability of SMS Basic with even
more powerful data analysis tools. In 2004, after years in development, Ag Leader
took advantage of emerging technologies in precision farming and introduced the InSight
display. This 10 inch, color, touch screen display
did it all – planter and application control, yield monitoring, real time data logging and
much more. One short year later, Al Myers and Ag Leader
once again shook the precision farming world, by introducing the DirectCommand system. This system gave growers complete control
over application operations, and included the new AutoSwath section control feature,
which remains the gold standard of agronomic stewardship today. This feature automatically shuts off individual
boom or planter sections based on areas that have already been covered, thereby greatly
reducing over-application and waste. In 2006, the introduction of SeedCommand gave
growers a tool that combined AutoSwath for their planters with the ability to map hybrid
and variety locations and even record split-planter operations, allowing for better records and
side by side comparisons. This same year, Ag Leader introduced precision
ag that fit in your pocket. SMS Mobile collects in field data from soil
sampling, crop scouting, boundaries, coverage logging and more – giving farmers site specific
information to make more profitable decisions. The following year, Ag Leader began a tradition
of supporting precision ag education by creating a precision ag lab at Iowa State University
within the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, and to this day, continues
to donate the latest hardware and software equipment so that students are able to simulate
a working farm and gain real world experience in a classroom setting. With Al’s goal of making grower’s lives
better and more efficient in mind, in 2008, Ag Leader revealed a new entry-level year-round
precision farming display for those just getting started with precision technology – the
Edge, which combined simple usability with our SeedCommand, DirectCommand and yield monitoring solutions. It was this same year that Ag Leader began
the Ag Leader Technology Precision Agriculture Scholarship at Iowa State University to support
students interested in precision agriculture. We also broke ground on the building expansion
of our current facility in Ames for a 96,000 square foot addition that more than doubled
the size of the existing facility. 2009 was a banner year that marked the introduction
of many new products, including the Ag Leader Integra display, SureStop Clutches, ParaDyme,
OptRx, and the OnTrac2. With a high definition, 12.1 inch touchscreen
display, a low maintenance, user friendly seed meter shut off, an advanced automated
steering system with integrated wireless and cellular communication capabilities with sub-inch
accuracy, a crop sensor used for mapping as well as real time variable rate application
of nitrogen, and an economical and easy to install solution for assisted steering, it
was a productive year that spotlighted just how important it was to innovate and educate
on these new technologies. Ag Leader advanced precision knowledge by
building the Ag Leader Academy near the headquarters in Ames. This 25,000 square foot building was designed
to provide the industry with specialized, hands-on training. By 2010 Ag Leader held the reputation of being
a company that understood the farmer and their needs. To enhance this, we launched the Blue Delta
Dealer network, which introduced a group of elite precision farming dealers across North America. Advanced seed tube monitoring functionality on
the Ag Leader Integra also went to market this year, allowing SeedCommand customers
to record planter performance attributes including singulation, skips, doubles, spacing quality,
population and view a real-time virtual seed trench for visual troubleshooting. The Versa display hit the market in 2011 as
another versatile precision farming display for year round operation control. This same year, Ag Leader opened their first
international office in Europe to better serve the needs of our global customers. 2012 continued the ambitious pace of Al’s
vision with the acquisition of Soil-Max, adding the leading products in the water management
and tile plow control system market to Ag Leader’s product line-up. We also announced that the Ag Leader Integra
display would feature planter down force monitoring and control, for on-the-go adjustments based
on soil and field conditions. The GeoSteer, a new automated steering system,
served to bridge the gap between expensive full featured systems and less costly systems
that didn’t provide all of the needed functionality. Ag Leader once again expanded its global footprint
by opening an office in South America. The Compass display was announced in 2013
for growers looking to combine usability with affordability, in an entry level display. AgFiniti Cloud also became reality this year, opening
the door for growers to connect with their data no matter where they were – from field
to office. Ag Leader also grew by opening an office in
Australia to serve the needs of the Asia Pacific marketplace. 2014 , once again, saw Ag Leader expanding. This
time by building a new distribution center located just east of Ag Leader’s headquarters,
adding efficiency to our shipping and receiving processes and giving our equipment assembly
and testing departments much needed room to grow. This is also the year that the two newest
steering products went to market – SteerCommand and OnTrac3. SteerCommand automated steering provides the
accuracy and compatibility that modern farming requires, while the OnTrac3 gives growers
the assisted steering solution they need in an economical way. When coupled with the newly released GPS 6500,
farmers got the accuracy, repeatability and simplicity they needed to make their operations
more efficient and profitable. In 2015 we released the
InCommand 1200 & InCommand 800, pushing the boundaries of what
is possible in a field display. These displays were built on Ag Leader’s
industry leading precision technology with the year round efficient machine control that
growers had come to expect from Ag Leader. By combining these displays with AgFiniti
Mobile—a new iPad app that allowed growers to take their data with them on their tablet
as soon as they left the field—growers gained instantaneous access to their data, simplifying
the process for making crucial decisions more quickly. The innovative solutions continued to flow
in 2016 as Ag Leader introduced SureDrive electric drives, giving growers precise control
of planter meter performance by combining variable rate planting, turn compensation
and row by row shut off. In conjunction with row by row population
control, we also introduced Individual Row Hydraulic Down Force with nearly instant response
times, to ensure that the seed is placed in the right spot, every time. DisplayCast, Ag Leader’s display to display
communication feature, was released, allowing our growers to share coverage maps, guidance
lines, summary information, yield and planting maps and setup information without the use
of USBs, radios or desktop software applications. So what does the future of precision agriculture
look like? While it’s too early to know what product
might be next, you can rest assured that Ag Leader will remain the front runner in developing
products that benefit farmers around the world. [music]

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