AgTech Insight Improving Business

Customer Satisfaction is Key in AgTech

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Working in the agricultural industry demands integrity and honesty. California Ag Today recently spoke with Aaron Magenheim with AgTech Insight, a global, full-spectrum agricultural and tech consulting firm based in Salinas.  They are currently tracking 3,000 digital ag companies around the globe, allowing them to work with real companies to make a huge impact on the world’s food supply.

Magenheim started by selling weather stations 10 years ago when people started asking if he could help aid in soil moisture, imagery, and tracking equipment.

“I got to the point that I wasn’t going to a farmer saying, ‘I’m selling you something.’ I’m going to them saying, ‘Let’s see how we can improve processes and where you’re going,’” he said.

Magenheim’s focus is to help positively impact business for farmers.

Customer satisfaction is the main focus for AgTech Insight.

“If proper customer support is not achieved, then that piece of equipment is in the trash, and you are classified as a company that did not follow through,” Magenheim said. “This would result in an area where you cannot do business anymore.”

Digital Technology in Agriculture Will Grow Faster

Digital Technology is Making Huge Leaps in Ag

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Digital technology is making huge leaps in agriculture. California Ag Today recently spoke with Kirk Haney, CEO of Radicle Growth, a venture capitalist fund concentrated on developing new, innovative companies focused on food, agriculture, health, and sustainability. Agriculture and construction are considered the least digitized industries in the world.

“Everything is digital, everything is being managed, measured, and it is going to happen in agriculture in the same way not only as digital is coming but it brings competition with data sharing,” Haney said.

According to him, if you do not start capturing your data and then sharing it in a way that is going to make you more competitive, your business is going to struggle.

“In terms of the incredible entrepreneurship that we are seeing, the speed at which technology is changing, processing power, chips, the power of iPhones—we are talking about the power of cloud computing and [in] another two years, the power of cloud computing will be in the palm of your hand … on the 5G network,” he said.

The cloud computing will change the way that farmers run their operations. The data stored on these devices will only help farmers increase their precision and improve their farming practices.

Truly, ag is the last frontier, and Haney believes that satellites will soon be used to detect bugs in fields.

“New camera vision technologies can actually, through thermal infrared, spot early pest detection to check out and treat whatever you need to do,” Haney said.

When it Comes to Drones, No Limit with Aerobotics

Aerobotics Drones Detects Disease Early in Orchards

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

Drones are continuing to make a big appearance in the agriculture industry, and with new technology from Aerobotics, they’re not leaving the sky any time soon. James Paterson, co-founder and CEO of Aerobotics, has news of a fully automatic solution for collecting aerial data fields to help maintain healthier trees.

“It’s to detect disease problems in the orchard, and the reason that’s such a difficult problem is that it’s done as a manual process at the moment, called scouting,” Paterson said.

Although scouting has always been a go-to method, it only guarantees certain points of the field to be checked. Paterson said that the new Aerobotics system will allow the entire farm to be monitored down to each individual tree.

“So what our system does is it tracks each tree, and if it identifies that a tree is under stress, it sends a scouting route to the user’s smartphone for them to go and investigate,” Paterson explained.

Aerobotics has a network of accessible drones available for those farmers who do not have their own. All they need is the software system, and to visit aerobotics.com to get started.

iTrade Helps Growers

iTrade makes Growing and Shipping more Efficient

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

In a recent interview with California Ag Today, Dan Reighn, director of grower/shipper sales for iTrade, discussed how being a part of the system is helping the grower, shipper, supplier, and customers with iTrade’s efficiency by streamlining the process.

Cloud-based solution is key to the success of its speed. This will allow the information to flow quicker through all the channels by effectively being more beneficial to the grower, supplier, shipper, and inevitably the customer.

“The grower, shipper, and the supplier earn a lot of benefits when they are on our network every day transacting with 40 or 50 of their customers using an easy-to-use system, and we are able to handle that transaction for them rather than a purchase order being emailed or faxed or phone call,” Reighn explained.

iTrade is an efficient way to transact with buyers. It is a cloud-based software solution. There are carriers on the network to assist as well as field mobile systems that a grower can use at the source of picking. From that point, inventory can be done from the field to storage to assist the distribution.

“There are users in South America, Mexico, U.S. and Canada that are using our software on rugged mobile devices in the field,” Reighn said. “These customers are able to print off a PTI label, apply it to a case in the field as well as an electronic harvest tag. This also allows the supplier to know exactly what pallets, how much is in the field, when it is going to be received to the cooler, and when they can get that load off to Walmart or Safeway or Kroger.”

Helping Consumers Understand Ag Tech

Bayer Does Consumer Research on Ag Technology

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Adrian Percy, Global Head of Research and Development for the Crop Science Division of Bayer, recently spoke with California Ag Today about consumer opinions on agriculture and ag tech.

“The public trusts farmers. There’s a high degree of trust, and I think that comes from the fact that there is an emotional connection with food, the fact that growers are known to be trying to work sustainably,” Percy said. “Often times, farmers look from generation to generation in terms of passing the farm down, and I think that’s still understood by the public, even if some of the technologies we’re using … people have some reservations about.”

“I mean, it’s not just consumers in the U.S., it’s also in the European markets and South America and in Asia,” Percy explained. “We’re seeing a lot of questions coming up around agriculture, and as an agricultural input company, we think it’s our role to help understand that. And we hope to activate farmers or other folks in the industry to come out and talk about agriculture, enter into dialogue with consumers and explain what we do. I think that’s very important.”

Percy discussed a study that covered different topics, including consumer opinions on innovations in agriculture.

“We looked to a whole bunch of different aspects. One of the things that was also interesting is just asking the general questions about do you believe: that innovation in agriculture is actually important? People came back, ‘Yes, we do believe that we need to innovate. We do see that there’s a need to feed a growing population and that we need to help farmers farm more sustainably with better tools,’” Percy said.

“On the other hand, when we quiz them about the individual tools, that’s where there is a reservation,” Percy explained. “People don’t necessarily like the idea of chemicals on the farm or GM technology in certain cases and certain parts of the world. So those are the types of discussions that we need to really go into.”

Farmers, Agriculture Technology Providers Reach Agreement on Big Data Privacy and Security Principles Expected to Accelerate Technology Adoption

By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

A coalition of major farm organizations and agriculture technology providers (ATPs) announced an agreement on data privacy and security principles that will encourage the use and development of a full range of innovative, technology-driven tools and services to boost the productivity, efficiency and profitability of American agriculture.

The coalition supporting the principles includes: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Beck’s Hybrids, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont Pioneer, John Deere, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, Raven Industries, The Climate Corporation – a division of Monsanto, and USA Rice Federation.

“The principles released today provide a measure of needed certainty to farmers regarding the protection of their data,” said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. “Farmers using these technology-driven tools will help feed a growing world while also providing quantifiable environmental benefits. These principles are meant to be inclusive and we hope other farm organizations and ATPs join this collaborative effort in protecting farm-level data as well as educating farmers about this revolutionary technology.”

The principles promise to greatly accelerate the move to the next generation of agricultural data technology, which includes in-cab displays, mobile devices and wireless-enabled precision agriculture that has already begun to boost farm productivity across the United States.

Central to the effort surrounding the principles will be grower education initiatives that will include an easy-to-use transparency evaluation tool for farmers. The tool would allow farmers to compare and contrast specific issues within ATP contracts and to see how the contracts align with these agreed-upon principles, and how ATPs manage and use farmers’ data.

“The privacy and security principles that underpin these emerging technologies, whether related to how data is gathered, protected and shared, must be transparent and secure. On this matter, we all agree,” said Stallman. “Farmers are excited about this new technology front, which is why Farm Bureau asked these groups to come together and begin this collaborative dialogue.”

The principles cover a wide range of issues that must be addressed before most farmers will feel assured to share their private business information with data providers. Highlights include:

  • Ownership: The group believes that farmers own information generated on their farming operations. However, farming is complex and dynamic and it is the responsibility of the farmer to agree upon data use and sharing with the other stakeholders with an economic interest such as the tenant, landowner, cooperative, owner of the precision agriculture system hardware, and/or ATP etc. The farmer contracting with the ATP is responsible for ensuring that only the data they own or have permission to use is included in the account with the ATP.
  • Collection, Access and Control: An ATP’s collection, access and use of farm data should be granted only with the affirmative and explicit consent of the farmer.
  • Notice: Farmers must be notified that their data is being collected and about how the farm data will be disclosed and used.
  • Third-party access and use: Farmers and ranchers also need to know who, if anyone, will have access to their data beyond the primary ATP and how they will use it.
  • Transparency and Consistency: ATPs shall notify farmers about the purposes for which they collect and use farm data. They should provide information about how farmers can contact the ATP with any inquiries or complaints, the types of third parties to which they disclose the data, and the choices the ATP offers for limiting its use and disclosure.
  • Choice: ATPs should explain the effects and abilities of a farmer’s decision to opt in, opt out or disable the availability of services and features offered by the ATP.
  • Portability: Within the context of the agreement and retention policy, farmers should be able to retrieve their data for storage or use in other systems, with the exception of the data that has been made anonymous or aggregated and is no longer specifically identifiable.
  • Data Availability: ATPs agree they should provide for the removal, secure destruction and return of original farm data from the ATP, and any third party with whom the ATP has shared the data, upon request by the account holder or after a pre-agreed period of time.
  • Market Speculation: ATPs will not use farm data to illegally speculate in commodity markets.
  • Liability & Security Safeguards: The ATP should clearly define terms of liability. Farm data should be protected with reasonable security safeguards against risks such as loss or unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure.

Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data can be found here: http://bit.ly/1zjQ4Sk.