John Deere App Center Available

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

ZimmCast 463AgNerd Cloud alert! Appy Monday to you. How about a program could focusing on Apps? As in the new John Deere App Center.

John Deere App CenterTo learn all about it I talked with Nathan Greuel, John Deere Mobile Technician.

The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. They will also be able to share the apps on social media and provide feedback to improve the applications and develop additional apps for the future. The App Center is actually an app itself which allows you to search within it for the right kind of John Deere app you’re looking for. A version for Android is in the works too.

As we learned in last week’s ZimmCast the faster mobile technology on the horizon will only increase the number of apps for farmers allowing them to transfer and utilize more and more data in a mobile fashion. I think that this is just the start of increased app efforts like this. Learn more in this week’s program.

You can listen to this week’s program here: AgNerd Cloud - John Deere App Center

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here.

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AgNerd, Agribusiness, Apps, Audio, John Deere

Have Good Conversations With Consumers

John Davis Leave a Comment

afbf15-arnot1Having good conversations with consumers will be key if farmers want to build long-term trust in today’s food system. That was the message attendees of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show heard from Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).

“Farmers are accustomed to fixing things in the next production cycle. Building trust with consumers has a longer horizon,” said Arnot, who presented findings from CFI’s 2014 consumer research into consumer skepticism, trending attitudes and trust-building transparency. The research was sponsored, in part, by AFBF.

The survey of 2,005 people looked into the concerns and attitudes of three groups of people: moms, millennials and foodies. Millennials are described as those ages 18-34. Foodies are people who are more likely to seek out information about food and food ingredients and to share information about cooking, food safety and nutrition. CFI’s research showed that keeping healthy food affordable is a high priority for all three segments. Arnot called that finding “very good news” for those involved in food production when it comes to talking with consumers. “Everything you do can be talked about in that context,” he said. “If we address consumer concerns in that context, our messages will be better received.”

Arnot went on to say that demonstrating shared values is more effective than demonstrating competence when it comes to building trust with consumers, and farmers need to realize the “goal is not to win a scientific argument, but to find meaningful and relevant ways to introduce science and technology.”

2015 AFBF Convention photo album

AFBF, Ag Group, Agribusiness, Farm Bureau

EPA’s Neonicotinoid Findings Disputed

John Davis Leave a Comment

asaThe American Soybean Association (ASA) is disputing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) findings critical on the efficacy of neonicotinoid seed treatments in soybean operations. ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan said “…soybean producers use neonicotinoid seed treatments where they are needed and effective, and don’t use them where not.” Cowan pointed to recent research from Mississippi showing approximately 90 percent adoption of neonicotinoid seed treatments signals that the technology does work for farmers in certain areas.

In the comments, Cowan noted that neonicotinoid seed treatment use is tailored to a very specific set of circumstances, and in those settings, that particular technology is critical, “Farmers balance the efficacy of different treatments based on their individual farms, and experience shows that farmers who purchase seed treatment for soybeans do so because it reduces or eliminates the need for application of additional inputs after the soybean seedling has emerged,” he said. “Seed treatments both protect the soybeans from insects in the soil after planting as well as protecting the seedlings as they emerge. A below-ground insect infestation has no rescue options except replanting, and in the northern growing regions, replanting is not often an option.”

“EPA must not allow political pressure to lead to restrictions on crop protection tools,” concluded Cowan. “We have appreciated EPA’s science-based decision-making in evaluating crop protection products, particularly as they are wrongly singled out as the cause of pollinator decline. We urge EPA to maintain its commitment to science in evaluating crop protection tools.”

You can read all of ASA’s comments here.

Ag Group, ASA, environment, Soybeans

Railroad Updates Progress

John Davis Leave a Comment

afbf15-bnsf1Billions of dollars to improve service on one of the most important railroads for grain producers looks to resolve problems that hurt the grain industry last year. Attendees of the recent American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show heard from Greg Guthrie, director of ag products for BNSF, who updated them them on a $5 billion capital investment plan the company announced at the beginning of 2014, which grew to closer to $5.5 billion by the end of the year.

While the grain shipping industry isn’t one of BNSF’s largest customers, representing only 9 to 10 percent of total business, Guthrie called it one of BNSF’s oldest and most valued.

“From a railroad perspective, grain has been an inherent and significant part of our DNA,” said Guthrie. “Do you really think we don’t want to haul grain? We keep hearing ‘you want to haul oil, not grain.’ We want to haul everything and we’re going do whatever we can to handle that growth because in business if you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

In the last 14 years, BNSF added more than 150 origin locations nationwide. There were 77 BNSF origin destinations in 2000, and in 2014 that number rose to 233. Each station costs $25 million to $30 million to build.

“Our growth [last year] was double the GDP and we woke up one day and realized that we took on 50 percent of all the railroad growth in the United States in one year,” Guthrie said.

That growth ended up dramatically spiking the cost to reserve rail cars, so Guthrie said BNSF is adding more grain hopper cars to the pipeline, which will allow the market to decide a fair price for cars.

2015 AFBF Convention photo album

AFBF, Ag Group, Agribusiness, Farm Bureau

Conservis Announces Version 8.0

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

CSVS_logoConservis Corporation announced significant expansion of their industry-leading farm management software, now with new management and analytical tools.

“In Chicago the talk is all about data and profitability,” said Pat Christie, Conservis Founder & CEO. “With lower prices, top producers need timely and accurate data to run a competitive business. Conservis 8.0 makes this data actionable. For the first time, farmers can compare performance to spending at the field level, understand break-even points and better plan an optimal crop mix based on the cost per unit of production.

Reporting tools enhance visibility of the complex details and numerous activities on the farm. Easy-to-view reports make it simple for a farmer to conduct daily analysis and make immediate, informed adjustments – at all levels of the farm, from seed and other inputs, to harvest, marketing and all critical points in between.“Having the data immediately, rather than three months later, helps us make real-time decisions” said Andy Jenks, Jenks Farms. “This is so important in today’s production agriculture.”

Planning and budgeting is crucial for business success. With Conservis 8.0, a farmer collaborates with agronomists and others to create sequenced activity-based crop plans. It is easy to evaluate scenarios for profitability, resource usage and timing bottlenecks. Final plans are used to create budgets down to the field level and are converted to purchase and work orders, which are easily tracked against the original plan. Storing all this information in a single cloud-based platform is a distinct advantage over planning spreadsheets and paper work orders with verbal updates to manage the pipeline of field-level work.

Agribusiness, Data, Software

The Yield Lab Announces First Cohort

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

yield-labThe Yield Lab, the nation’s largest agriculture technology business accelerator, announced its first five participating companies, which will begin the program this week in St. Louis. The companies were selected from a pool of more than a hundred applicants from around the world and reflect the Yield Lab’s mission to promote solutions for a healthier, more sustainable future globally.

The Yield Lab runs a nine-month program that supports emerging AgTech companies with up to $100,000 in funding, an Agriculture (Ag) specific curriculum, one-on-one mentorship, free workspace, and networking opportunities. The Yield Lab is supported by a solid framework of agriculturally focused individuals, organizations, and businesses in the St. Louis area. Agriculture is a leading industry in the greater St. Louis area, providing over 20% of the area’s employment and generating $75 billion in global economic value.

“We believe that finding a solution to sustainably feed the world is one of the biggest problems facing the world today. We have to get creative to solve this problem—and we believe innovation and entrepreneurship are the ways to do it,” said Managing Director Thad Simons. “There is no better place than St. Louis to stimulate entrepreneurship in agricultural technology and development. The Yield Lab, our investors, mentors, advisers, and entrepreneurs are a start on this journey.”

The Yield Lab’s first cohort includes:
– Arvegenix – Arvegenix is developing Pennycress, an annual energy crop grown over winter when land is idle, giving farmers another revenue crop. Pennycress, an oilseed crop, produces oil for biofuels and press-cake that is used as livestock feed. Pennycress is a non-food crop.
– AGERpoint – AGERpoint provides comprehensive GIS-based asset inventory, data and precision agriculture solutions to growers of tree, vine, and bush-based crops. AGERpoint distills data from laser and other optical scanning equipment into actionable information for permanent crop farmers from planting to harvest.
– Holganix – Holganix is a 100% natural bio-nutritional product that promotes strong plant health and sustainable soils while reducing the need for traditional fertilizers and pesticides.
– TerViva – TerViva is commercializing a perennial tree grown on underproductive agricultural land called Pongamia. Pongamia produces an annual harvest of pods, which can be crushed to produce animal feed and oil used for biofuels.
– Solapa4 – Solapa4 is a data gathering and analytics company that can predict the agricultural performance of land. Their products show the productivity of a farm for risk management, agribusiness, and farming decisions.

Agribusiness, technology

New Products From United Suppliers

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

United SuppliersUnited Suppliers announces the launch of Optify™ and Symbol™ Advance powered by Take Off®; two new products for 2015 crop season.

Optify, a newly EPA registered plant growth regulator, promotes root growth and nutrient uptake when applied in-furrow.

Symbol Advance powered by Take Off increases nitrogen use efficiency inside the plant when applied via foliar application.

“We are looking forward to the 2015 crop season, especially with these two performance brands in our line-up. United Suppliers owners will utilize these advanced technologies to help growers produce stronger, healthier corn plants that mitigate yield limiting stresses.” stated Ryan Klapperich, Marketing Manager.

United Suppliers continues to invest in advanced technologies resulting in a rich pipeline of agronomic solutions that will help its owners and their customers meet their production potential.

Agribusiness, Nitrogen, Planting

Merger of Crop Protection Traceability Standards

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

aggatewayAgGateway and the CRISTAL Product Traceability team of CropLife International are merging their bar code guidelines, also known as traceability standards, a move that will allow crop protection companies with global operations to enhance data exchange in managing product traceability, inventory control, regulatory compliance and quality control.

The important collaboration comes as traceability issues are increasingly important in global trade of crop protection products. However, to date there has not been a global harmonization of these standards, meaning that a company may need to set up its data exchange processes differently in different regions. A standard approach to bar coding and data exchange will not only greatly enhance product management, but also give increased confidence to agricultural retailers and growers.

“As we reviewed the AgGateway and CRISTAL bar code guidelines within AgGateway, it became obvious that the best way to address questions about differences between the standards was to merge the two into one,” said Marcia Rhodus, Retail Business Solutions Specialist with Monsanto, and the working group leader for AgGateway’s Automated Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) initiative. “The two groups have met and agreed on a high-level plan to complete the project.”

AgGateway’s AIDC group will begin by bringing the AgGateway bar code guidelines in line with the latest standards and guidelines of GS1, a global standards organization, as a means to integrate them with the CRISTAL standards and guidelines.

Read More

Agribusiness, Crop Protection, Data

Farm Foundation Forum on Funding Agricultural Research

John Davis Leave a Comment

farmfoundationlogo3Farm Foundation is sponsoring another one of its conversations on topics affecting agriculture. The next free forum, “Tools to Fund Agricultural Research,” will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 28, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., with a live audiocast also available free of charge for those who can’t be there in person.

For more than a decade, constraints on state and federal budgets have resulted in reductions in public funding of agricultural research. Funding for basic research has declined, limiting the ability of scientists to explore new and interconnected areas of study. The decline in public funding has also changed the dynamic of private funding, as companies step in to fund work being done at public institutions. Cutbacks in research investments also slow the pipeline of new information and technologies needed to sustain and expand agricultural production and productivity.

Panel members for the Jan. 28 Forum are:

Keith Fuglie of USDA’s Economic Research Service, who will provide an overview of trends in public and private research funding, including the funding model used in Australia.

Dr. Harold Browning of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, to discuss that industry-led research effort.

Steve Rhines of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, who will discuss the potential role of agricultural research organizations in financing agricultural research.

Mark McKenna of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, will discuss this non-profit corporation authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to combine public funding and private donations in support of agriculture research

Registration information is available here.

Ag Group, Agribusiness

Big Data Could be Next Cash Crop

John Davis Leave a Comment

afbf15-farmobileIt’s said that knowledge is power, and now information could be a powerful cash crop for farmers. Attendees of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show heard from Jason Tatge, current president, CEO and co-founder of FarMobile, who sees huge potential for farmers to dictate the sale of their data to large agricultural companies.

According to Tatge, farmers currently lack the necessary protection of their data. “Without a safeguard, data could manipulate margins,” he explained. “Our goal is to get the revenue stream back to the growers.”

He expects his company, FarMobile, to be the first of many to step in and mediate this process. FarMobile provides farmers with a device that can be plugged into a tractor to gather data on land and machinery including fuel economy, speed, direction and products being applied. The information is then directed to an electronic file that can be accessed at the farmer’s discretion.

Once this data is in the system, FarMobile facilitates opportunities between farmers and agricultural companies by allowing large companies to make offers to purchase the farmer’s data, should they desire to make a profit rather than utilize it for personal use. According to Tatge, this is the main way farmers can start to turn a profit on their data.

Tatge says the current state of “farmer data rights are the Wild West,” and he wants to put control back into the hands of farmers.

2015 AFBF Convention photo album

AFBF, Ag Group, Agribusiness, Data, Farm Bureau, Mobile