Precision Point Blog

Isaac Bowers

Isaac Bowers is Ag Leader’s Software Support and Training Supervisor. In this role, he supervises the department that supports and trains users on SMS Desktop and SMS Mobile software programs. Isaac is originally from Iowa and received a degree in Ag Systems Technology from Iowa State University. He enjoys helping out on the family farm, running and fishing.

Ag Leader

Apr, 24 2012 - by Isaac Bowers

Data Management in SMS Basic and SMS Advanced

Managing and organizing data is an essential part of any business operation.  Data that is not properly organized cannot only be difficult to find, but difficult to work with.  In an office setting, you may have different folders in your filing cabinet, or on your computer to organize your information.

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Ag Leader

Apr, 12 2012 - by Isaac Bowers

What’s Coming in SMS Basic/Advanced v12.0

In the near future, we will be releasing SMS Basic/Advanced v12.0 and SMS Mobile v6.0.  I wanted to take some time this week to let everyone know about a few of the items that will be included in this upcoming release. Among the updates in SMS Basic/Advanced Version 12.0, we have updated tools that allow you to work with the latest file formats on the market from the following precision farming companies:  Ag Leader, CNH, John Deere, Precision Planting, RDS, and Trimble.

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Ag Leader

Mar, 23 2012 - by Isaac Bowers

Downloading Soil Survey data just got easier!

Since I’ve started working at Ag Leader, common questions during the winter months are, ‘Where can I go to find soil survey data?’ and, ‘What do I need to do to bring that data into SMS?’  In the past, you had to know which websites had that data, wait to download a county’s worth of information to your local hard drive, and then had to assign each column of data you wanted to import that data.  As part of Ag Leader’s continued effort to simplify tasks in SMS, we have added a simple wizard in SMS Basic/Advanced Version 11.5 that allows you to download soil survey data.  SMS can download many attributes such as soil type, soil description, erodibility class, drainage class, up to 6 horizons of soil information, and many more.

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Feb, 29 2012 - by Isaac Bowers

SMS Software Training – A key item to helping you understand your data

As we move into March, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone about the opportunities to attend a SMS Software Training. Michael and Aaron have written several posts around the idea of the ‘Value of Data’. If you start asking questions about your information, you need to have a resource that can give you answers. One of the key items that aid you in learning more about your data is understanding how to effectively use your GIS mapping software, which is why we provide so many opportunities to learn about the tools and features of our SMS software products.

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Ag Leader

Feb, 09 2012 - by Isaac Bowers

SMS Basic/Advanced v11.6 has been released!

SMS Logo

We are excited to announce the release of SMS Basic/Advanced Version 11.6.  This update includes the ability to work with the new Version 3.0 firmware available from your Ag Leader dealer for the Ag Leader® Integra and the new Versa displays, which includes the ability to read the new *.AGDATA log files and read/export the new *.AGSETUP file format.  As Ag Leader continues to strive to make things easier for our customers, Version 3.0 of the Ag Leader Integra and Versa displays has reduced the display files to two formats.  *.AGDATA files will replace the *.ILF format and the *.AGSETUP files will replace the *.MSF, *.PAT, *.IRX, and *.IBY formats.  As in the past, SMS will continue to support all legacy formats for our displays for users that are running an InSight and Edge display or are running the Ag Leader Integra firmware prior to the v3.0 firmware. If you are running SMS Basic/Advanced v11.5 you can update by going to the Help menu, and clicking “Check for Updates”.  For more information on how “Check for Updates” works, click here.  Customers that are current in our Desktop Software Yearly Maintenance Program and are running SMS Basic/Advanced v10.0 though v11.0, will have to run the Check for Updates tool multiple times until they get to v11.6.  Since v11.6 is considered a patch release, all users, including those expired in our Desktop Software Yearly Maintenance Program or those running a trial version, will be able to update from v11.5 to v11.6.  I strongly encourage users that are planning on updating to v12.0 this spring that they do this update now as it is a required version between v11.5 and v12.0. If you would like to see the release notes or would like to download a demo version, click here. Note to SMS Mobile users:  SMS Mobile v5.5 is still the current version of SMS Mobile and it will be able to sync with SMS Basic/Advanced v11.6.

Ag Leader

Nov, 17 2010 - by Isaac Bowers

Time to Harvest Your Data

Farming is full of checklists and tasks to do for the day, week, month or year.  Feed the dog, clean the livestock buildings, clean up equipment before putting it away for the year, fix equipment you’re getting ready to use for the next season, and the list goes on.  Among all of the other items, don’t forget to take some time to read in and analyze your information for the year into your precision ag desktop software. By analyzing your data and combining that information with your own knowledge of the field, you can learn a lot and, in turn, make some management decisions for the following year.  Items that you may ask yourself as you look ahead to the next year may include the following:

  • Which products (i.e. seed, chemical, fertilizer) worked this year and which didn’t?
    • Which will you use again next year?
  • Does soil type make a difference?
  • Do you have areas that are consistently poor yielding?  If so, why is that area different from other areas in the field?
    • Is the soil type different?
    • Is it a water drainage issue?
    • Is it a fertility issue?
    • Are nearby trees shading the crop too much?
    • Do you need to fix that fence so the neighbor’s cows don’t get into your field again?
    • Are you money ahead to seed that area down to grass and not plant that area at all?
  • What did you learn from your test plots?
    • Did population make a difference?
    • Did different rates of fertilizer make a difference?
    • Did applying chemicals like fungicide make a difference?
  • Is there any correlation between yield and soil sampling maps?
  • How much did the weather affect different areas of your field?
    • Was there any flooding by the river bottom?
    • Was there any lodging due to wind?

Once you have a good picture of what is going on in the field and how the yield was affected, you can then start looking at the costs for making changes and comparing that to your potential for increased income.

Ag Leader

Nov, 08 2010 - by Isaac Bowers

Linking Additional Data into SMS

corn lodging

As harvest wraps up and you start to read in your yield data, you might also take some time to record some of the other things that you saw while you were out in the field.  This year I've seen several soybean fields with SDS (Sudden Death Syndrome), corn fields that lacked nitrogen, fields that had been flooded, and even a few that had some lodging due to winds that we had last week.  Whatever the case may be for your particular farm, you have the ability to add additional documentation in SMS about these areas for future reference.

SMS has a feature called Linked Items where you can bring in other files, such as photos, PDF files and word documents, or even link websites and tie them to any item in the Management Tree.  For those of you who agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, this is your chance to save them in SMS for future reference. These can help you remember specific details about an area of a field during planning, crop scouting or harvest operations, view what different pests look like, or show damage due to too much rain when crop scouting.  Additional ideas might include:

  • Bringing in Ag Leader Smart Reports™.
  • Bringing in electronic product labels for each chemical that was applied.
  • Linking different websites for commonly used agronomic knowledge, such as fertility recommendations from universities to the Soil Sampling operation.
  • Link growing season related documents to the individual years.

Scouting Report_new

To use the Linked Items feature, right-click on the appropriate level in the Management Tree that you want to link an item to; on the list that appears choose Edit Item.  In the dialog box that appears, choose the Linked Items tab.  There will be two categories that you can link information to.  Linked Image Files is used to link in different pictures that were taken during the year.  These images can then be referenced in your custom print layouts.  The Linked Files section can be used to reference all other items (i.e. PDF, word documents, websites, etc.*).

Edit Item

Once you have tied information to different layers, you can view that information by selecting the appropriate item in the Management Tree, and on the Summary Tab selecting the Linked Items sub-tab.

Summary Tab

Use your own creativity when linking data, as there are many additional ways to use this feature.  Have fun documenting!

*PDF Files, images, text files and webpages will open in SMS, but other file types will require the software to be installed on that computer to open it.

Ag Leader

Oct, 04 2010 - by Isaac Bowers

SMS Basic/Advanced v10.5 and SMS Mobile v4.5 released!

SMS Logo

The fall release of SMS software – SMS Basic/Advanced Version 10.5 and SMS Mobile Version 4.5 – is here!

Before updating your SMS Basic/Advanced software, please remember to make a backup of your software by going to the Services menu and selecting Backup.  After creating the backup, I recommend burning it to a CD/DVD or copying to an external media device, such as an external hard drive or USB stick.

Check for updates
You will be able to use our new automated updater to get the new version of SMS if you:

  • have registered online in the past using your username and password,
  • are current in our Maintenance Program,
  • have SMS Basic/Advanced Version 10.0X installed, and
  • have an Internet connection.

The automatic updater will run every 30 days (from the date you installed the software) when you open SMS.  If you would like to update sooner, you may manually run the automatic updater by going to the Help menu and selecting Check for Updates… SMS will then connect to the internet and download the files necessary to update your computer.  For this update, the file will be less than 40 MB in size.

SMS Mobile PC
With the release of SMS Mobile v4.5, we are now offering">SMS Mobile PC, our new installation option to install SMS Mobile on a Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 device.  Customers looking to move their SMS Mobile license over from their handheld device to a device running a Windows PC operating system should contact our support team at 515-232-5363 ext. 1.

To download a copy of the installation files or see a complete list of new features in our Release Notes, please visit our customer support page by clicking on the links below:

SMS Basic/SMS Advanced

SMS Mobile

If you need help installing this new update or have forgotten your username and password to unlock your SMS software, please call our support team at 515-232-5363 ext. 1 or email us at

Ag Leader

Aug, 16 2010 - by Isaac Bowers

Navigating using SMS Mobile

A couple weeks ago Aaron talked about using SMS Mobile for some extracurricular activities such as hunting, fishing and even golfing.  Before the crop scouting season finishes up and soil sampling starts again, I wanted to talk about how to use the navigation features in SMS Mobile.

In all five operating modes (Boundary, Soil Sampling, Crop Scouting, Coverage Logging and General Logging) found in SMS Mobile as well as the Dataset Viewer (which allows you to view information without accidently modifying the data), you can navigate to a manually entered location or object.  Either select the icons in the toolbar along the bottom or go to Menu – General and choose Navigate to Manual Location or Navigate to Mapped Layer Objects.  These tools allow you to navigate to desired points to perform needed tasks, such as fix tile line, pick up rocks, etc.

For those of you looking for easy ways to find the latitude and longitude of a location without actually walking to it, you can get them from resources like Google Maps.  Using SMS Mobile, as you drive toward the point, you will be told items such as direction to travel, time until arrival based on current speed and distance to point.

Soil Sampling Mode and Crop Scouting Mode each have their own specific navigation tools as well, Take Samples and Start Scouting, respectively; both of which can be found on the toolbar or under the Menu list.  When using Take Samples or Start Scouting you have the ability to drop new sample points/scouting zones for areas of the field that you decide that you want to take samples/scout but hadn’t anticipated earlier.  In addition to that, you will automatically be prompted to fill in values for these GPS locations, such as Sample ID for Soil Sampling or items like number of pests in a location and plant population for Crop Scouting.

In more recent versions of SMS Mobile, we’ve implemented Navigation View. Navigation View allows you to easily see the direction needed to travel in order to drive to a selected location.  Once you arrive at the selected location/object, the screen will change and tell you to stop driving.


Starting navigation to desired point.


253.5 feet away from desired location.


Stop! Arrived at desired location.

For those of you that are interested in using the Navigation View on a larger screen, you will have the option to use SMS Mobile PC this fall.  The new installation option allows you to install SMS Mobile on a portable computer running a desktop operating system.

Ag Leader

Aug, 12 2010 - by Isaac Bowers

Learn More About Your SMS Software

SMS Training

SMS Software offers a great way to organize and manage all of your precision farming data. However, with all of the capabilities and functions offered by SMS Software, you may have some questions about what you can do with your software and how to do it. That’s why Ag Leader offers SMS Trainings – to help you get the most out of your SMS software. Whether you’re using SMS Mobile, SMS Basic, SMS Advanced or a combination of these, there is a training (or two) that can help you utilize the software to the fullest.

Ag Leader recently announced several additional full-day trainings throughout the month of August. Trainings are held in Ames, IA and other locations in the Midwest. All of these trainings will help you better understand your SMS software and explain how to get answers out of the data you collect. Trainings are conducted by Ag Leader’s SMS Software Support team and can help you better understand your software and answer any questions you may have. In addition to the full-day training sessions, web-based trainings are available throughout the year.

If you’re interested in attending an SMS training, you can view the training schedule here. To register, call 515-232-5363 ext. 1. The class size for SMS trainings is limited, so call today and plan to attend a training to help you get the most out of your SMS Software.

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