Digital agriculture, a term that’s used increasingly, means something different depending on which agricultural company or employee is asked. Some say it’s all about data. Others say it’s about precision agriculture. Syngenta defines digital agriculture as turning data into meaningful information that farmers use to run their operations more productively and profitably, provide sustainability performance downstream, and protect their resources including soil, water and biodiversity.
During the past two decades, the company has been working in the digital ag space, and the company is working to expand its capabilities. Dan Burdett, who has more than 20 years of industry expertise, has been named head of global digital agriculture and will lead the company’s overall strategy and implementation in this area.
Burdett was most recently head of customer marketing, where he was instrumental in the 2015 acquisition of Ag Connections and expanding the footprint of AgriEdge Excelsior, a whole-farm management program, to 14 million acres in the United States.
“At the most basic level, Syngenta’s approach to digital agriculture is driven by growers’ needs and the global needs of ag productivity,” Burdett says. “That’s why we are focusing on technologies and tools that can complement the agronomic and economic depth of a grower’s operation.
“We are taking a similar approach to bring value to commercial growers, our plant breeders and seed production growers, by aggressively leveraging data analytics. By connecting digital agriculture capabilities to our product lines, our sales teams and our channel partners, we have the opportunity to differentiate ourselves in this active space.”
In validating new concepts and bringing viable technologies to the field, Burdett and his team will collaborate globally across multiple business areas, including research and development, Syngenta Ventures, commercial, and production and supply functions.
“Dan is a great leader to develop a digital capabilities ecosystem, while supporting our growers every step of the way,” shares Alexander Tokarz, head of business development for Syngenta. “He has spent his entire career providing value to growers.
“He understands their needs. Moreover, the agriculture industry is feeling the impact of technology disruption, and Dan and his team are positioned to judiciously harness new tools and concepts by building capabilities internally, and seeking out strategic partners and opportunities.”
Digital Agriculture Solutions Group
In North America, Syngenta’s long history of providing valuable tools for growers to manage their farm operations holistically is now broadening its scope with the newly formed Digital Agriculture Solutions group. Led by Aaron Deardorff, head, Digital Solutions at Syngenta, this team is focused on developing integrated grower offers enabled by AgriEdge Excelsior and the company’s Sustainable Solutions group strategies and initiatives.
“We’re expanding our ability to offer growers more value through the new Digital Agriculture Solutions group,” Deardorff says. “We are piggybacking on the success that both Syngenta and Ag Connections have created with growers for more than 15 years, and taking it to a higher level.”
In 2015, Syngenta acquired farm management software developer Ag Connections as a wholly owned subsidiary following a 14-year relationship. Ag Connections works extensively with Syngenta on its AgriEdge Excelsior program, which delivers leading software, trusted on-farm service and innovative product recommendations to growers.