Jeff Dema: MachineryLink—the Airbnb of Agriculture
By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor
Agriculture, like any other industry, is constantly growing and developing to increase productivity, efficiency, sustainability and profitability. Jeff Dema, president of FarmLink, said his company has created a new program called MachineryLink Sharing that enables farmers to rent equipment that may be too costly for them to purchase outright from fellow farmers who own the equipment.
MachineryLink Solutions, created 15 years ago by FarmLink, a data science and technology company that aims to help create and support a long-term, sustainable global food system by seeking opportunities for advanced analytics and modern technology, offers quality equipment at a fraction of the cost of ownership. This new feature, “MachineryLink Sharing, is really the Airbnb* for agriculture,” Dema said. “You can think about it as the industry’s first online internet-based platform that allows owners of equipment and users of equipment to transact and share equipment.” Dema said the program helps solve the issue of farmers receiving limited returns on equipment investments.
“Equipment and machinery represents a significant portion of the farmer’s cost-structure,” Dema said. “In fact, 41 percent of non-land production costs are tied up typically in machinery and equipment. This provides farmers an opportunity to access equipment without having to deploy mass sums of capital to buy their equipment. The USDA tells us that farmers have $244 billion worth of equipment and machinery tied up in those assets,” he explained, “and the utilization rates are minuscule. The average asset turnover ratio for farmers is 0.34, which means for every dollar a farmer has tied up in assets, he or she is generating 34 cents worth of revenue—a very low asset utilization level. This service addresses that economic challenge.”
Aside from MachineryLink, FarmLink offers growers two additional ways to optimize their success and profitability. More than five years ago, FarmLink began to collect data to build an analytics platform that accelerates the pace of data-driven insights and innovation in agriculture. “The result,” Dema stated, “TrueHarvest, is a data-analytics platform that helps farmers benchmark their yield performance—the first and only independent yield benchmark service for agronomic effectiveness available. By using actionable data to compare each field, down to the 150 square foot area called a micro-field, growers can easily uncover yield improvement opportunities and make better input and management decisions.”
TrueHarvest, according to the FarmLink website enables each farmer to:
- Validate input, resource allocation and farming practice decisions
- Measure the year-over-year results of farming practice changes, including seed and fertilizer choices, regardless of the weather conditions
- Make in-season changes and planning decisions for next year’s crop
- Determine which areas of your fields have more or less potential
- Determine revenue improvement opportunities
Lastly, Demo said, At FarmLink, we help with risk management as well to help buy and sell the materials that farmers buy and sell.”
 Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, Calif., Airbnb, according to its website, is a community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet. Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Airbnb claims to be the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.
 To benchmark = Objectively validate the impact of input variables to optimize production, profitability and sustainability