AG Glossary

Active Light Sensors

Active light sensors measure light reflected from plant leaves. They have their own source of light to shine on an object, so they can be used in the dark. Sun angle and ambient light levels have no effect on these types of sensors.

Aerial Imagery

An aerial image is captured from above a field via airplane, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or satellite.

Answer Plot® Program

The Answer Plot® Program is an agricultural research and demonstration program that produces millions of data points to populate one of the industry’s most extensive national data sets. With nearly 200 locations nationwide, the Answer Plot® Program reflects local conditions and includes hundreds of replicated trials and demonstration plots, delivering unbiased, trustworthy results with significant financial implications for farming operations.

Answer Plot® Seed Characterizations

After evaluation at Answer Plot® locations around the country, hybrids are given proprietary ratings based on a variety of characterizations such as response to nitrogen and response to population to help agronomists make the most appropriate recommendations for each field.

Answer Tech Data Silo™

The Answer Tech Data Silo™ is a secure, cloud-based data-management system that allows agronomists to store and manage farm data. Information stored in Data Silo may be used with ag technology tools available through Answer Tech® to help farmers make more fact-based decisions.

Archive Imagery

Field imagery maps spanning multiple years that show differences in biomass at peak vegetation and variances in soil across the field. Archive imagery is the crux of the R7® Tool which generates field performance and information for every acre, matches crop inputs and decisions to each field’s potential and allows farmers to make practical evaluations — for example, comparing wet years to dry years.

Archive Imagery

Field imagery maps spanning multiple years that show differences in biomass at peak vegetation and variances in soil across the field. Archive imagery is the crux of the R7® Tool which generates field performance and information for every acre, matches crop inputs and decisions to each field’s potential and allows farmers to make practical evaluations — for example, comparing wet years to dry years.


Also known as an automated guidance system, it is a driving system using GPS signals to steer and guide a farm implement automatically through a field. Typically, an autopilot system consists of one or two GPS receivers, a radio to receive corrections, a controller, a computer display, sensors and electro-hydraulic valves or servomotor. Currently, most automated guidance systems only steer the tractor, thus an operator is required.

Base Station

Capturing and comparing satellite positioning to a tractor’s actual location in a field, a base station sends signals to correct a tractor’s path to ensure precise location data. It is comprised of RTK-GPS receiver and radio that are stationary. These stations can be either portable or permanently installed, and their coverage can vary depending on topographic conditions, antenna height and radio-transmit power.


The process of comparing business and performance metrics that covers a wide range farming management considerations. Benchmarking provides a standard for a given field, weather condition or input. It can be used to compare year-over-year field health or yield data. Also, it can be used to compare operations against other farmers’ commodity prices, input costs or yield.

Big Data

“Big data” refers to the immense volume of data being collected, analyzed and stored as a result of new technologies. New ag technology tools help collect farm data for use in decision-making tools and precision agriculture programs.

Boom/Section Controller

This electronic device is capable of turning on or off sections of a chemical application boom manually or automatically in combination with GPS positioning and area mapping.

Crop Sensors

By directing light waves at crop leaves and measuring the type and amount of light reflected back to the sensor, optical crop sensors help evaluate crop conditions during the growing season. Results can be used to assess crop health to make more precise in-season management decisions.

Data File

An electronic record collected during a field activity, a data file is typically saved in the storage card. Common delimiter-separated formats are .csv, .dat and .txt.

Data Layer

A geographic information system (GIS) map can have many layers to present different types of information. For example, the first layer of a map may be a satellite image of an area. The next layer may have only lines that represent roads or highways, while an additional layer may contain topographic information.

Data Management System

A data management system (sometimes referred to as a data hub) enables the user to store and share data with other applications and trusted advisors. A data management system is designed for multiple functions, such as the definition, upload, download, search and administration of data.

Data Repository

A data repository (also known as a data warehouse) is comprised of data accumulated from multiple sources that is used to guide management decisions. Data repositories store current and historical data, and are used to create analytical reports for decision makers at an operation. 

Electronic sensor (optical, spectral, displacement)

This device uses electronic circuitry to measure the physical world. Optical sensors use light to generate an electronic signal to measure physical characteristics. Spectral sensors use the physics of light to generate electronic signals, but generally employ multi-bandwidths in the visible to infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Displacement sensors use a reflected signal (sound/sonar, light/laser, radar/radio waves) to find the distance between the sensor and an object.


This is the software embedded into a piece of electronic hardware. The firmware runs the microcomputers in a device and controls the electronic circuitry.

Geographic (Spatial) Data

This data contains information about the specific location where it was captured and the attribute being monitored, such as yield, soil properties, plant variability or seed population.

Geographical Information System (GIS)

A computer system that records, measures, manages or analyzes geographically referenced information.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

GPS uses satellite signals (radio waves) to locate and track the position of a receiver/antenna. GPS is a technology that originated in the U.S. Currently maintained by the U.S. government, it is available to users worldwide free of charge. There are 30 satellites in the GPS constellation.

Image Resolution

This is a measurement that describes the amount of detail given to an image. Higher resolution means a more detailed image. Image resolution can be measured in various ways, such as by physical size or by the overall size of a picture. As it relates to agriculture, resolution is the capability of a sensor to observe or measure the smallest object clearly with distinct boundaries.

ISO 11783 (Commonly referred to as ISO Bus or ISOBUS)

A communication protocol for the agricultural industry, it is used to specify a serial data network for control and communications on tractors. ISO Bus compliant tractors and implements come with round 9-pin connectors.

Least Significant Difference (LSD)

LSD values are used in research trials to compare the mean scores of various treatments with the same number of replications. More trial replications produce lower LSD values, which helps build a sound, statistical foundation for trustworthy local and regional agronomic recommendations.

Light Bar (in machine guidance)

Connected to a GPS receiver, a light bar typically consists of a row of LED lights to provide the tractor operator with a visual guide, day or night. The light bar does not automatically steer the tractor or machine, it aids the operator in driving on the imaginary reference line.

Light-Emitting Diode (LED)

LEDs are designed to emit light from ultraviolet to infrared wavelengths.

Modeling Tools

Crop modeling uses in-season crop data to predict future nutrient needs, yield potential and other factors. Together with previously gathered data, this information helps farmers make fact-based decisions about plant nutrition and other management plans.

Multispectral Imagery

The main type of imagery captured through remote sensing, it refers to an image captured at different wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum. The wavelengths may be separated by filters or by the use of instruments that are sensitive to particular wavelengths, including light from frequencies beyond the visible light range, such as infrared. This allows people to see things not visible through the human eye.

Near-Infrared (NIR)

This portion of the electromagnetic spectrum represents light waves approaching infrared. Near-infrared light waves are on the far red end of the spectrum, some of which appear as extremely dark red or maroon, and end at wavelengths that can’t be seen by the human eye.

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)

NDVI is used to measure and monitor plant growth and vigor, vegetation cover and biomass production from multispectral satellite data. The R7® Tool uses NDVI maps to pinpoint stressed areas of each field for more effective tissue sampling and proactive plant nutrient management.

NutriSolutions 360&trade

The NutriSolutions 360™ system from WinField is a complete solution for plant nutrition management. The multidimensional system combines nutrition diagnostic tools for soil sampling, tissue sampling and nutrient uptake analysis with critical agronomic insights and precise product recommendations.

NutriSolutions® Tissue Analysis

Using tissue samples taken at critical growth stages, NutriSolutions® tissue analysis provides greater insight into in-season plant nutrient deficiencies by determining which available nutrients have entered the plant. Tissue analysis provides plant nutrient recommendations for fast adjustments before yield potential is jeopardized.

Open Ag Data Alliance (OADA)

OADA is an open standards software project initiated to ensure farmers have full data access, security and privacy. Formed by agricultural industry stakeholders, the project’s goal is to help farmers move their data seamlessly and securely between their equipment, software and services by speeding open, shared development of technical standards for data formatting and interoperability.

Passive Light Sensors

Passive light sensors depend on sunlight to function. They measure the magnitude of the light shining down from the sky, then measure the magnitude and colors of light being reflected from a plant’s leaf back to an instrument. Passive light sensors are affected by clouds, the angle of the sun in the sky and morning dew.


Refers to repeatability of multiple position measurements of the same object or condition.

Prescribed Application

Dispensing an input into the field on a predetermined basis. A prescription map is generated by an expert (farmer and/or agronomist) based on information about the field in use before an application. The prescription is developed to place the right product in the right place at the right amount during the right time.

Prescription File

A computer generated GIS file that assigns a value to a given geographical area. An example would be a file that contains a prescribed nitrogen application rate for a management zone within a field.

Process Yield Data

This data has been manipulated into a dataset to make analyzing easier and faster.

R7® Placement Strategy (C/A) Code

The R7® Placement Strategy is WinField’s holistic approach to agronomic management that examines critical crop management components to precisely match inputs with field conditions to optimize yield potential. The seven factors considered are: selecting the right genetics, for the right soil type, at the right plant population, in the right cropping system, with the right traits, fed the right plant nutrition, and defended with the right crop protection.

R7® Tool Field Response Map

The Field Response Map within the R7® Tool combines yield map data with a prescription map to illustrate the response to the prescription for that field, providing an opportunity to improve field productivity potential the following year.

R7® Tool In-Season Imagery

In-season images provided by the R7® Tool capture plant health data that serves as an advance scouting tool. The imagery helps agronomists identify problem areas within a field as the season progresses so they can help farmers take corrective measures before yield potential is jeopardized.

R7® Tool Profitability Map

The R7® Tool Profitability Map connects input costs (flat and variable rates) and yield map data to determine return on investment (ROI). Areas found to be less profitable provide an opportunity to better align input investments with yield potential the following year.

R7® Tool Top 10 List

The Top 10 function of the R7® Tool lists the 10 best-performing corn hybrids or soybean varieties for a field based on soil type in a selected location. For example, in corn, it provides information on yield potential, anticipated ear size and root appearance for each hybrid. This function helps agronomists use the R7® Placement Strategy to identify the best genetic choices for each field.

Rate Controller

An electronic device, the rate controller varies the amount of an input applied to a given area.

Raw Yield Data

Data collected during harvest time from the combine or tractor measuring the output of crops.

Real-time Application

Sensors are used to obtain information from a crop and apply inputs at the same time. Real-time application commonly goes hand in hand with variable-rate systems. As differences in the crop are measured by a group of sensors, the variable-rate controller changes the amount of input dispensed in a given area. Information is made use of in real time, as opposed to collecting it and making use of it later.

Real-Time Kinematics (RTK-GPS)

A corrected position signal obtained through a complex procedure of carrier-phase measurements of the GPS or global navigation satellite system (GNSS) signals, it provides real-time corrections at the sub-inch accuracy level. The correction signal is provided by a RTK base-capable GPS receiver. Depending on local availability, RTK corrections can be delivered by radio modem from an on-site base station, a state’s CORS network or via Internet using Wi-Fi.

Receiver (in GPS hardware)

A computer-radio device that receives satellite information by way of radio waves to determine the position of its antenna relative to the Earth’s surface. The antenna can be integrated into the receiver or connected externally with a cable.

Remote Sensing

Using sensors or instruments (mainly referring to satellite sensor platforms) to measure aspects of the Earth, such as geographic features. Satellite technology provides the means to measure and collect data on large scales, with high frequency, and in extreme environments where conventional means of data collection is not practical.

Response to Continuous Corn (RTCC)

RTCC (or response to rotation) indicates how well each hybrid performs when planted in a continuous corn rotation. See Seed Characterizations below.

Response to Fungicide (RTF)

RTF designates a hybrid’s expected level of response to fungicide treatment. See Seed Characterizations below.

Response to Nitrogen (RTN)

Cornhybrids are evaluated in varying nitrogen environments to determine each hybrid’s ability to tolerate or respond to varying levels of nitrogen management. See Seed Characterizations below.

Response to Population (RTP)

RTP indicates each corn hybrid’s ability to tolerate low plant population or respond to aggressive population management in different crop rotations. See Seed Characterizations below.


Communications vehicle orbiting the Earth, satellites typically provide a variety of information, from weather data to television programming. Satellites send time-stamped signals to GPS receivers to determine the position on the Earth.

Satellite-Derived Management Zones (SAMZ) Map

The R7® Tool includes SAMZ maps, which show management zones within each field to assist with variable- rate planting and fertilizer prescriptions, soil testing and other management decisions. Information from the combine’s yield monitor can be imported into the program and overlaid with the SAMZ map to verify performance of variable-rate seeding and fertilizing programs.

Shape file

This GIS software file can contain many pieces of information about a geographical area. There are three parts of a shape file: .shp, .dbf and .shx.

Steering assist

A system using corrected GPS signals, a steering motor and a light-bar, this system guides the tractor operator through the field. Steering assist systems provide the operator with a visual guide and assist by steering the tractor using an electric servomotor directly attached to the steering wheel.

The Cloud

The cloud is a network of servers on the Internet that deliver synchronized access to data or other information. These servers provide a variety of services, such as storing data, running applications and more. Using cloud storage frees up data storage on local computers and simplifies accessing and sharing data.

Universal Serial Bus (USB)

This port connects a peripheral devices with a computer. In agriculture, the most common USB device is the flash dive, which is used to store data and transfer files to and from in-cab computer displays.

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

Farmers use UAVs for scouting purposes such as identifying insect problems and watering issues. UAVs are equipped with infrared cameras, sensors and other technology, and are piloted remotely by the user.

Variable Rate

Variable rate is the actual application rate of various crop inputs used in individual management zones. With variable-rate technology, rates are adjusted to match different conditions throughout a field. Instrumentation such as a variable-rate controller is used to apply varying rates of fertilizer, crop protection products and seed.

Variable-Rate Technology (VRT)

This electronic control system changes or adjusts the rates of an input being dispensed. VRT systems can be manually or automatically controlled to apply inputs based on a prescription map generated from site-specific information.


The World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS-84) - datum was created in the 1980’s based on Geodetic Reference System (GRS) and satellite measurements. It includes a geodetic datum that defines the Earth’s size, shape and defines a reference point.

Yield Goal Maps (YGM)

Spatial representations of a farmer’s expectations for a given field, yield goal maps range from low and middle to high expectations to correlate with growing conditions throughout the year.

Yield Monitor

An electronic system that measures the amount of harvested crops collected by production machinery.

Yield Potential Map (YPM)

The YPM is a spatial representation of an optimal crop output given the environments to which it is adapted with adequate nutrients and water and no plant stress from incidences of pests, diseases, weeds and lodging.

Yield Variability

Yield variability measures the difference in crop output from one zone in the field to another zone.

Zone Management

This is an information-based division of large areas into smaller areas for site-specific management applications.