WebFarming

QUICK START GUIDE

Introduction
Creating a user account and logging in
Installing the Google Earth Plugin
Creating your first farm
Adding fields to your farm
Adding machine systems
Creating routes
1 – Manually
2 – Using the Route Planner
Generating trajectories
1 – Using the Route Following algorithm
2 – From a GPS log file
Creating a Crop Rotation Plan
Creating Scenarios
1 – Using the Route Planner/Route Following algorithms
2 – Using trajectories generated from GPS data
3 – Using the Tracking Minimisation algorithm

Introduction

The objective of this application is to provide farmers with a tool that allows them to evaluate improvements in operational efficiency in terms of cost, chemical, time and fuel/CO2 savings and other optimization benefits resulting from the use of Route Planner techniques and autosteer equipment.

The user is able to manually upload files with their current GPS work data, compute costs and perform statistical evaluation, and compare them with the same results from the routes re-planned by the application.

Creating a user account and logging in

Go to WebFarming’s site and create your user account by clicking the ‘Create an account’ link. Enter a user name, password and your email address. Yo will receive an email asking for confirmation of your registration.

Once you have confirmed your registration, go to the ‘Login’ page and login with your user name and password.

Installing the Google Earth Plugin

When you first login to WebFarming, you will be prompted to install the Google Earth plugin in case you don’t already have it. Go ahead and install it. Once the plugin is installed, you may need to refresh the page before the plugin displays correctly, showing a 3D Earth embedded in it.

 

 

Creating your first farm

Go to the ‘Files’ tab and click ‘New Farm’. Type the name of your new farm and press OK. You will be able to find and open all your saved farms at any time later by clicking ‘My Farms’.

Find the place on earth where your farm will be located. Go to the ‘Fields’ tab and use the ‘Fly to’ search box to locate the place you wish e.g. ‘Silsoe’, or enter the latitude and longitude values, e.g. ‘52.0096, -0.4453′, and zoom in to the area of interest.

Adding fields to your farm

A farm must have at least one field, so right click ‘Fields’ (next to the green folder) and choose the ‘Add new Field’ menu option.
(Note for IE9 users: the contextual menu could appear behind the standard IE menu. Press ‘Esc’ to close the IE menu).
Start adding points with the mouse to define the field boundary with a polygon. Finish the boundary by right clicking; WebFarming will ask for a name for the new field. When you create a new field, the gateway is automatically placed in the first point of the boundary.

The new field is added under the ‘Fields’ folder, and three subfolders are automatically created: ‘Exclusion Areas’, ‘Headlands’ and ‘Routes’. You can right-click the folder to add these entities to the field in a similar way to how you created the new field.

Adding machine systems

Go to the ‘Machine Systems’ tab. There you can add Machine Systems to your farm, which are a Vehicle/Implement combination. Different Machine Systems can share the same Vehicle or the same Implement. You will see a list of the vehicle models available in WebFarming. Choose one of them and click ‘Add>>’ to add a new vehicle to your farm. The table on the right shows the list of vehicles in your farm. Click ‘Details’ to display a table showing the values of the different vehicle parameters. When a new vehicle is added, it takes the default values of the chosen model. You can change these settings later by clicking ‘Edit’.

Similarly, you can add implements to your farm. For the time being, only a generic model is available.

Once you have defined your Vehicles and Implements, add a Machine System by entering its name and selecting a Vehicle and an Implement.

Creating Routes

There are two ways you can add routes to a field:

1) Manually

Go to the ‘Fields’ tab and right-click the ‘Routes’ folder under the Field you want to add the route to. Click the ‘Add Route manually’ option.

Start adding the waypoints that will describe the route by clicking the mouse. Each waypoint has properties that you can modify later by right-clicking the Route name in the treeview and clicking ‘Edit Route’. These properties are:
> The waypoint number.
> Northing, in UTM coordinates.
> Easting, in UTM coordinates.
> Tolerance, in meters. It is the distance at which the waypoint will be considered reached.
> Speed, at which the vehicle should move until it reaches the waypoint.
> Navigation Mode. Possible values are ‘STWP’ (Straight to Waypoint) and ‘MXTE’ (Minimize Cross Track Error). The navigation algorithm is explained below
> Task. For now, the possible values are ‘Lift Cutters’ and ‘Lower Cutters’. You can leave it empty too.

When drawing a route, you can add waypoints with ‘Lower Cutters’ Task and ‘MXTE’ Navigation Mode by holding the SHIFT key down when clicking. Otherwise, the waypoints are added with ‘Lift Cutters’ Task and ‘STWP’ Navigation Mode.

2) Using the Route Planner

Go to the ‘Route Planner’ tab and select the Field and the Machine System that the algorithm will use to calculate the route. You also have to choose the type of turn, and set several parameters as shown in the figure below. Then, press the button ‘Generate Route’ and the resulting route will be automatically added to the field selected.

The routes can be edited later in the Route Editor: right click the Route name in the treeview and select the option ‘Edit Route’. The Route Editor will be displayed in the lower panel, as shown in the figure below.

Generating Trajectories

A Trajectory is the path that is traveled by a Machine System in a particular Field. Each trajectory has its own set of statistics, including numeric and displayable geometric data.

You can find the list of your saved trajectories under the ‘Trajectories’ tab. Click ‘Stats’ to select a particular Trajectory and see its statistics. You can also click on the checkboxes to display the vehicle trajectory and the different areas (covered, trafficked, overlap)

There are two ways a Trajectory can be generated:

1) Using the Route Following algorithm

Now that you have a route in some field of your farm, you can run the Route Following algorithm to simulate the trajectory resulting from the autonomous guidance of a Machine System. Go to the ‘Route Following’ tab and select the desired values for these options (Field, Route, Machine System).

Click the ‘Generate Trajectory’ button and after a few seconds WebFarming will draw a white curve representing the simulated trajectory. The ‘Trajectories’ tab will be automatically selected to show the statistics resulting from the simulation.

You can also tune the algorithm by adjusting some parameters that will determine the behaviour of the vehicle and may change slightly the trajectory.

As described in the explanation of route creation, the Route Following has two different modes to navigate towards the next waypoint:

Straight to Waypoint: This mode drives the vehicle directly to the waypoint. It uses the current location estimate and the waypoint coordinates to compute the desired heading and generates the control command according to the following equation of a proportional controller:

steering_angle = Kp * heading_error

where Kp is the Proportional Gain parameter.

Minimize Cross Track Error: This is an implementation of a typical follow-the-carrot algorithm. In this mode the vehicle goes towards a point in the line segment between the previous waypoint and the next waypoint, minimizing thus the crosstrack error (XTE). This carrot position lies a lookahead distance away from the vehicle center and it is updated every cycle of the algorithm. The steering angle is computed by the above-mentioned equation using this moving target or carrot. This look-ahead distance is the configurable parameter in the Route Following tab.

The last parameter, ‘Rotate Scale Factor’, is the percentage of the waypoint speed at which the vehicle will move when it turns with maximum steering angle. For example, if you set this value to 0.4 then, when the vehicle turns with maximum steering angle, the speed is reduced to 40% of the speed in straight line.

2) From GPS log files

You can upload and add GPS log files to your farms. Let’s consider the general case, when you don’t know the exact location where the GPS data was collected. In such a case you must first create a new farm, add the GPS log file to it, and then create a field around the GPS trajectory. These are the steps to follow:

1 – Go to the ‘Files’ tab, create a New Farm and choose a name for it.

2 – Go to the ‘GPS log files’ tab and click the ‘Browse…’ or ‘Choose file’ button (the name of the button will vary depending on your internet browser). Select from your hard disk the file containing the GPS data. Supported formats are:

- NMEA: The file must be in NMEA format and contain $GPGGA sentences. Other sentences will be just ignored.
– Shapefiles: shp, shx and dbf files are required. You must upload them one at a time.

Once a file is uploaded, it is already stored and added to your farm. If the file is successfully uploaded, the textbox will turn green and you will see a new table with one row containing the GPS file name. You can add more files if you want. Click on this row to select it. It will turn yellow. It shoud look like this:

Then, click the ‘Find location’ button. WebFarming will draw the data of the selected file on Google Earth and after a few seconds it will fly to it. Now you know where the data was collected!

3 – Add the elements required to generate the statistics from the GPS data. Go to the ‘Fields’ tab, right click the ‘Fields’ folder and select the option ‘Add new Field’. Draw a boundary delimiting the existing field in the satellite image and choose a name for the new field. Now right click the ‘Headlands’ folder of the recently added field and choose the option ‘Add Headland’. Draw a boundary covering the working part of the GPS trajectory. It should look similar to this:

4 – Go to the ‘Machine Systems’ tab and click ‘Add>>’ next to one of the Vehicle models available.

5 – Add a new Implement too. Once the implement is added click the ‘Details’ link and then ‘Edit’. Change the Working Width value to a width according to the distance between successive passes, and then click ‘Update’.

6 – Create a Machine System by combining the Vehicle and Implement recently added.

7 – Go back to the ‘GPS log files’ tab. Click on ‘Generate Trajectory’ to compute the different areas combining the selected GPS log file with the values selected in the combo boxes (Field, Machine System, Headland). Once they are computed WebFarming will go automatically to the ‘Trajectories’ tab. You can see the results there and you can check the boxes to display the different areas.

 

 

Creating a Crop Rotation Plan

Once you have created Fields and added Machine Systems to your Farm, you can define a Crop Rotation Plan.

Go to the ‘Crop Rotation Plan’ tab. You will find the Farm Crops list at the top. Add new Crops to the list by simply entering its name and clicking ‘Add crop’.

Once you have added a Crop to your Farm, you can assign existing Machine Systems to it. The table below the Farm Crops list will show the Machine Systems corresponding to the crop selected above (yellow row). In order to assign a new Machine System to the selected crop, select it in the ComboBox at the end of the list and click ‘Add’. The same Machine System can be assigned to multiple Crops.

You will find the Crop Rotation table at the end. In order to add rows to the table, enter a year, select a Field, select a Crop, and click ‘Add’. Cells with the same year will be automatically grouped.

Creating Scenarios

A Scenario is a set of trajectories according to a given Crop Rotation Plan. The statistics of a scenario can be analyzed for a single trajectory, per field or for the entire farm.

There are three ways of creating scenarios:

1) Using the Route Planner/Route Following algorithms

Once you have defined a Crop Rotation Plan, go to the ‘Farm Scenarios’ tab. You will see the Scenario list at the top, and a ‘New Scenario’ panel below.

Choose the ‘Use Route Planner + Route Following’ option, enter a name for the new Scenario and click ‘Create new Scenario’. After a while (depending on the complexity of your rotation plan, size of the fields, machinery, etc.) you should see the details of the created Scenario in the lower panel as shown in the image below.

 

The table on the left of the lower panel shows the list of trajectories grouped by Fields and Farm. Each trajectory is the combination of a Route and a Machine System. The table shows also the Year/Crop combinations that correspond to each trajectory. When you click on one of the ‘Statistics’ links, the table on the right shows the statistics of a single trajectory, of a field, or of the entire farm. By clicking on the checkboxes, you can display the different areas on the map.

2) Using trajectories generated from GPS data

This option is similar to the previous one, but instead of using the Route Planner the new scenario will be computed using trajectories that you generated from GPS data files. You will need at least one trajectory for each Field/Machine System combination that results from the Rotation Plan.

When you select the option ‘Select GPS trajectories’ a table showing the GPS trajectories that you generated will be displayed. The trajectories are automatically grouped by Field/Machine System so that you only have to select them from the comboboxes.

 

Enter a name for the new Scenario and click ‘Create new Scenario’. It will be added to the Scenario list and you will be able to see the statistics the same way as in the previous option.

3) Using the Tracking Minimisation algorithm

This algorithm is in testing phase. It allows the user to find the optimal values of different parameters related to the geometry of vehicles and implements in order to minimise the trafficked area in the farm.

For now the variables to optimise are the ‘Front track width’ in vehicles, and the ‘Working width’ in implements.

Go to the ‘Tracking Minimisation’ tab. You can select each vehicle or implement and set the variable range/step for those you want to include in the optimisation process. For each vehicle you want to get an optimal ‘Front track width’ you must define the range (from-to) and the increment (step) to be evaluated in the optimisation process. In the same way, define the range and increment of the ‘Working Width’ for the implements to be optimised.

For example, if you define the Working Width optimisation for an implement with values of From: 10 m, To: 11 m, and Step: 0.2 m. the system will compute the different routes generated with working width values of 10, 10.2, 10.4, 10.6, 10.8 and 11 for that implement.

For the vehicles and implements you don’t want to include in the optimisation process, just use the same value for both ‘From’ and ‘To’ variables.

Important: consider that if you include several vehicles and/or implements, each with several steps to evaluate in the optimisation, the number of combinations could result in a long processing time, often requiring many hours to complete. So, start with a few vehicles or implements, and with a small number of steps.

 

Once you have completed the configuration options for the optimisation, enter a name and click the ‘Create Tracking Minimisation Scenario’ button. After completing the process, the new Scenario will be added to the list and the ‘Farm Scenarios’ tab will be automatically selected showing the statistics in the lower panel.