Efficiency enhancements in future agriculture will be achieved not only by higher machine power or bigger working widths but increasingly by well organized and synchronized production processes. Potential for optimization is particularly provided by machine complexes with several interacting machines.
Infield path planning is one way to make agricultural production more efficient. In this special sector lots of theoretical optimization has been done, mainly based on field geometry. However, field shapes have major influences on infield logistics but they are not the only ones. Moreover, farmers’ decisions concerning specific infield strategies depend on farm individual organizational reasons, on machinery equipment used by the particular farmer or on individual features of the considered fields. Considering all these decision criteria for mathematical optimization would make infield route planning more practical. As a result navigation not only to the field but also within the field would be possible.
Decisions on infield logistics often depend on farm specifically influences such as machinery equipment or process organization. Furthermore intuition is of high importance. To ensure that no farm individual information gets lost the study is conducted in the form of expert interviews. It is intended to cover the entire range of German agriculture from rural mixed farms with simple technology to large agricultural cooperatives with thousands of hectares using track guidance and various other electronic assistance systems.
The first interviews already show major differences of various farm types. In case of headland designing on big farms a tramline always surrounds the whole field whereas smaller-scale agricultural farms use adjacent field roads for turnings to keep the main field as large as possible. Further examples for influencing factors on infield logistics are direction-giving obstacles, such as power lines, the cultivation of sugar beets with its particularities concerning removal logistics or the application of organic manure, which especially livestock farmers and biogas producers focus on.
In conclusion infield strategies always are based on interactions of several different influences and decision criteria. Single working steps like tillage, seeding, plant protection or harvest mostly cannot be considered each individually. The entire production process has to be taken into consideration to detect the right infield logistics for a specific field. One long-term objective of this examination is to integrate the obtained influences on infield strategies as decision criteria into an infield navigation tool. In this way path planning could become more practical for farmers and process efficiency could be further increased.