Combining data in a structured way is often a problem for growers, says Chief Marketing Officer Reinder Prins of Agworld. “That is the biggest hurdle for them.”
Growers often don’t even see the benefits of collecting data, Reinder Prins says. “They think they are already accumulating a lot of data and don’t see how they can use it. They have this filing cabinet with soil test results, there’s some other stuff sitting in their e-mail box, and they record what they have applied in a book. To get past that, and organise the data in a structured way, is quite often a challenge. Growers find it difficult to combine all this information and pull it together. That is the biggest hurdle for them.”
Organising data seems a complicated process for growers. But once they start doing this, it becomes addictive, Reinder points out. “They can see all this data together and see exactly what is happening on the farm. It’s that first step that is important. And combining all the different layers of data results in making better decisions. The real value comes when you can see these layers together when you’re in the field.”
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Reinder Prins, Chief Marketing Officer of Agworld: “Combining all the different layers of data results in making better decisions.” – Photo: Agworld
Spend money better
In Reinder’s experience the insight from data does not result in growers spending less money. “But growers tend to spend it better”, he emphasises. “They can make a better analysis of how much they can make in each field. Growers might not spend less on fertiliser, but will use accurate variable rate scripts, based on a better insight into their soils.”
To make decisions easier for growers, Agworld has created a collaborative platform. “The majority of our competitors work with either growers or agronomists”, Reinder explains. “But in Agworld growers and agronomists can access the same account – using a permission system – to enable sharing on one platform. When an agronomist has created a recommendation, the grower receives it and can turn it into a work order. From there it can be turned into an actual field record.”
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The Agworld maps page on the iPad app showing the individual fields and the inventory of the chemicals shed. – Image: Agworld
Communicate effectively through Agworld
Growers and agronomists communicate effectively through Agworld, Reinder points out. “If a grower has sprayed in a field for example, the agronomist straight away gets a notification. And if a grower is in a field and sees a big batch of weeds, he can make an observation in Agworld and ask the agronomist to check it out. And financial advisors have access to Agworld as well. They can see what the grower and agronomist are working on from a budget perspective.”
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“Growers don’t need to start from scratch”
Agworld is a data management ecosystem. The company has a structured data system which means that growers can take all their historical farm records and data, and turn them into insights for making more profitable decisions.
The users of Agworld vary widely. “The biggest corporations use Agworld but also the smaller vegetable farms. Anything from broadacre, hay producers and dairy farms to orchards and vineyards”, says Reinder Prins, Chief Marketing Officer of Agworld.
Data will not be sold to any party. Growers can decide to give others access to their data, an agronomist for example, and revoke this access at any time. The independent owners of Agworld do not have access to the data of growers.
Pricing starts at AUS $ 1,500 per farm per year. The price growers pay for Agworld depends on several factors, for example the used features and how many users the farm has. “All a grower needs are a computer and an iPad or iPhone for in the field. That’s all the investment that is needed”, Reinder explains. “And because most agronomists use Agworld, field data and historical data is already in there. Growers don’t need to start from scratch.”
Agworld’s headquarters is based in Perth. The company was founded in 2009 and now is present in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the US and Canada.
Over 85% of agronomists in Australia are using Agworld. “They create templates for plans”, Reinder says. “Most agronomists would only deal with a handful of crops. In Western Australia an agronomist might deal with canola, barley, wheat and maybe some lupins. Growers choose similar treatments for their crops and therefore agronomists will apply their templates to the individual fields and crops of a grower. As the season progresses, this will turn into a series of recommendations to growers.”
Growers don’t have to enter much information into Agworld when they start. “The basic information is there”, Reinder says. “This makes it easier for farmers or their staff to create field records. We all know that if you ask people to do one more thing each day outside the normal work plan, it is often left off, so we focus on capturing it as part of the daily processes.”
Growers don’t have to think about categorising or spelling
Agworld works with standardised data. Reinder: “This means that a grower cannot enter the name of a fertiliser for example, they have to pick it from a pick list. They don’t have to think about categorising or spelling it. They just need to collect the information. Then they can report on how many units of NPKS they used for example. Grower can’t make any mistakes that way or misspell a product, and all reports will be accurate. And a grower can see which chemical groups he has used and how much chemicals he has used.”
Records in Agworld can be used in several ways, Reinder says. “Once a grower has their information in Agworld, they can use it for crop budgets for example. A grower can tell the bank how much money he thinks he is going to spend based on the most economical crop rotation that is built by his agronomist using the Agworld planning tool. This will automatically give him the gross margins.”
Agworld provides growers also with the labels they need when handling chemicals. “If you are in the chemical shed or using chemicals in the field, by law you will need to have safety data sheets and labels printed and available”, Reinder says. “In Agworld you can keep a digital copy. If you sync your iPad, the labels of the products you need to use will automatically download. You can then use the app offline. The labels will be already there and you don’t need any connectivity. If you have questions, you just pull up the label and read how to use a chemical.”
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Surfaced yield data in Agworld. – Image: Agworld
Use Agworld records for certification
Farmers use Agworld records for their ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) as well. “Because the information is very accurate”, Reinder says. “If you produce canola in Australia and want to send it to Europe, you have to be ISCC certified. The field records are the most important and labour intensive of the certification process. If growers create a report at the end of the season in Agworld, they can send it straight to the auditors. The same goes for the audits of the CBH Group (a grain growers cooperative) and other bulk handlers. Growers don’t have to worry about where their records are and how to access them.”
John Deere Operations Center
Agworld enables growers to integrate different layers of information into Agworld. Machine data from the John Deere Operations Center can be combined with a grower’s financial and agronomic data for example. This offers them one place to check their completed jobs, what is left to be done and how they‘re tracking financially.
Growers can choose the data they want to see on their Agworld platform page
Agworld allows third party providers of data driven systems – for example soil moisture probes, a weather station or a plant sensor – to display their data live in Agworld too. Reinder: “Growers can choose the data they want to see on their Agworld platform page. That could be tank level sensors or grain trade information for example. A grower does not want to use ten different apps with information.”
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Gross margins on a hectare basis per field in the Agworld iPad app. – Image: Agworld
Through integration growers can get access to different types of data. “Yield data especially”, Reinder explains. “But other layers like soil tests as well. One of those integration partners is Precision Cropping Technologies (PCT). Growers can view their surfaced or raw yield data, or other field data layers from PCT in Agworld. Often growers have field data, but agronomists don’t have access to it. But since most agronomists in Australia use Agworld, they can access all the uploaded data of growers. For us it’s all about centralising information so that growers and agronomists can make better in-crop decisions.”
Reinder expects the use of data will increase in coming years. “Obviously for a grower a drone looks a lot sexier than a data platform like Agworld. But if you look at the bones of it, data is needed more because there are so many parts of a farm that depend on good data…”
Simplifying the record keeping process
The Allison family farms at Perillup in Western Australia. Kieran Allison, who manages the farm together with his uncle, grows crops on the majority of their 4,500 hectares with the rest of the land used for sheep and a blue gum plantation contract.
Kieran decided to implement Agworld in their cropping operation in 2018, after agronomist Tim Trezise of Frankland Rural started to use Agworld as well. “He showed me how his recommendations can flow through to me on the platform, giving me the information I need on my iPhone or iPad. This would allow us to work together even closer”, Kieran says. “It felt like a no-brainer to start using Agworld ourselves as well. It really helped us to simplify our record keeping process.”
Agworld has also provided Kieran with more information when he needs it. “Tim and I sit together once a year for half a day and plan the next season”, Kieran explains. “In that process Agworld allows us to easily see the chemical groups that we have used and the rotation that each field has had over the past years. Having that information all in front of us makes it a lot easier to plan a solid rotation and avoid herbicide resistance through using a diverse range of chemicals.”
For Kieran it’s not just the ability to create field records that is important, but also the ability to utilise this information again at a later stage. “We got audited for the ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) canola program when we were still creating paper records, which was a very labour-intensive process for both myself and the auditors. After we started to use Agworld, the audit process was a lot easier for everyone involved.”
Kieran emphasises that the CBH (grain growers cooperative) accredited grower program auditors were very happy with his field records in Agworld. “With an increased emphasis on food safety around the world I think we’ll continue to see more sustainability requirements and audits requiring evidence of how we have managed our crops for years to come”, he says.
Kieran Allison: “Having that information all in front of us makes it a lot easier to plan a solid rotation and avoid herbicide resistance through using a diverse range of chemicals.” – Photo: Agworld