Companies Invest in Decision-Support Technology
Seed companies expand in-field support using the latest in data science.
Options abound in the world of precision agriculture with many of the latest technology and tools bearing the same company logos as the seed and inputs farmers purchase.
Some decision support programs are more than a decade old while others are still in their infancy but, regardless of their age, all seek to seamlessly evolve as technology and agriculture’s needs change. Seed companies recognize that helping customers gather and analyze data from the sky, in the tractor and within the soil benefits everyone’s bottom line.
Climate Field View: The Climate Corporation
From the most basic to complex of agronomic needs, farmers can customize their precision agriculture services with help from The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView offerings.
Wes Hays, commercial product director for agronomic services, says their web and mobile tools, launched in the spring of 2014, allow growers to collect and use farm data all in one place.
Climate FieldView Prime serves as the base for the technology. This free service delivers weather and scouting information at the field level and allows users to collaborate with team members and advisors. Currently farmers use this program on 75 million acres in the lower 48 states. “Our Prime program is a really nice technological tool that helps farmers decide ‘where do I spend my time today?’” Hays notes.
Climate FieldView Plus, a subscription service, gives users multiple means of recording and displaying planting and harvest data in real-time, allowing them to efficiently analyze results and make comparisons. In 2016, the company plans a limited release of Climate FieldView Drive, a device that helps farmers easily transfer their data from the field to the cloud.
The top tier offering is Climate FieldView Pro, which is comprised of three services — Nitrogen Advisor, Field Health Advisor and Script Creator. The Nitrogen Advisor, as the name suggests, is a modeling system that helps farm operators “monitor available nitrogen at the field level on any particular day,” Hays says.
The Field Health Advisor uses satellite imagery to zero in on plant health and potential disease or pest problems. Script Creator offers manual seeding rate prescriptions that can be executed from within the tractor cab.
The subscription cost for FieldView Pro is $3 per acre with the first 120 acres free for new users.
Hays says the Climate FieldView products will continue to evolve as The Climate Corporation fields customer feedback and pushes ahead with research. “Our end goal is to create seamless platforms that farmers can use to make their operations more profitable,” Hays says.
This fall The Climate Corporation announced Deere and Company had acquired the equipment business, Precision Planting LLC and, per an agreement between the two, would offer near real-time connectivity with select John Deere equipment and the Climate FieldView platform.
AgriEdge Excelsior: Syngenta
Providing farmers with a spectrum of tools, both in the form of technology and human expertise, just makes good business sense — that’s what customers get from the AgriEdge Excelsior program, says Steve Gomme, national AgriEdge manager.
“The success of Syngenta is dependent on the success of farmers,” Gomme says. “AgriEdge Excelsior is focused on helping farmers fully understand their business so they can make better decisions and investments.”
First introduced to cotton growers, the program is available nationally for all crops. AgriEdge Excelsior offers whole-farm management through Land.db software, complemented with on-farm support from specialists and Syngenta’s full line of seed, crop protection and seed treatment products. Gomme notes that all program data is secured within the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud and controlled by the farmer.
“Our ultimate goal is to grow mutually through AgriEdge Excelsior and to partner with other companies who provide additional expertise and technology that help growers reach their goals,” he says.
Growers who spend a minimum on Syngenta products qualify to use AgriEdge Excelsior without any additional fees for services or software. Gomme says users appreciate how comprehensive the program is as evidenced by a 95 percent return rate each growing season.
Encirca: DuPont Pioneer
Maximizing crop yields and reducing risk — that’s the primary objective of DuPont Pioneer’s Encirca program. “Additional yield gains will not come from biotechnology and seed genetics alone,” says Eric Boeck, director of marketing for Encirca services. “Management will play an important part in increasing productivity on every acre.”
Customers started using Encirca View and Encirca View Premium in early 2014, and the company has since introduced three new components. Encirca View is a mobile application that lets growers document crop observations and organize and share that information. Encirca View Premium delivers real-time, field level weather data, news and commodity markets.
The newest Encirca offerings include Yield Nitrogen Management Service, Yield Stand Service and Yield Fertility Management Service.
The nitrogen tool helps farmers match application rates to different productivity areas in fields and provides recommendations based on weather conditions. Yield Stand Service provides variable-rate seeding prescriptions and serves as a risk analysis tool, while the Yield Fertility Management system generates modeling for phosphorous, potassium and lime inputs.
“In addition to the software technology, Encirca services are delivered through a certified services agent who provides in-person expertise to help a grower simplify data into actionable decisions that improve profitability,” Boeck says.
The cost for Encirca services range from $4-10 per acre with the option of bundling discounts. More than 1 million acres were enrolled in this program in 2015.
FARMserver: Beck’s Hybrids
Giving growers complete control of how and with whom they share their farm data is a hallmark of Beck’s FARMserver program. Available since August 2014, the product offers security, mobility, compatibility with all equipment and in-field support.
“By storing their data year after year, our customers will start to build a foundation, which will allow them to maximize their yield and make more profitable decisions by managing their fields acre by acre,” according to Beck’s.
Company officials say FARMserver’s technological tools are easy to use, but growers can lean on the expertise of field advisors to parse the data they’re collecting.
Beck’s believe that its team of knowledgeable field advisors is what sets it apart from the competition. Customers have the option to use them as much or as little as they need.
FARMserver complements many of the company’s other precision agriculture offerings such as monitor and equipment calibration, weather station installation, field boundary creation and prescribed applications for planting and fertilization.
The cost for a one-year premium FARMserver membership is $599.