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AgIntegrated, CDMS, SeediQ Partner to offer Single Source Reference Data API — January 18, 2017

State College, PA– Today AgIntegrated, Inc. (AGI), CDMS, Inc. and SeediQ announce a partnership to develop, promote, and sell a single-source crop input reference data API that will include crop protection, nutritional and seed varietal data. Delivered through AGI’s Onsite platform, this service enables those seeking both crop protection and seed data in a single API to integrate with one system.

Duane Reese, AGI president says, “This will further the value of the Onsite platform while providing our clients the industry standard crop protection information from CDMS and the best neutral seed data source from SeediQ.”

For more information on this service, please call AGI at (814) 237-5617 ext. 102.

About CDMS – Crop Data Management Systems (CDMS), Inc. provides data and decision support technologies for agriculture. Our services, including CDMS Inside, are utilized by a broad-range of market participants across the continuum of food production including product manufacturers, distribution, consultants, and growers throughout North America. CDMS’ mission is to provide the highest quality services, systems and customer support that deliver valuable benefits to our customers and stakeholders.

About SeediQ – SeediQ, LLC delivers seed-product data services utilized across the agriculture industry. SeediQ data is integrated into precision agriculture software, Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS), farmer co-ops and in applications across the ag-tech marketplace. SeediQ’s focus is to empower the commercial agriculture industry to better serve customers at the farm gate where data application matters most. To learn more about SeediQ visit www.seediq.net

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ADC Enters Pilot Phase for Farm Data Repository — July 29, 2016

Ag Data Coalition Press Release:

Springfield, OH, July 28, 2016 – The development of a secure, online repository where farmers can store, manage and control the information generated on their farms took a major step forward as the Agricultural Data Coalition (ADC) initiated its pilot to demonstrate how a neutral repository of data would work to connect data among growers, service providers, and machines.

A group of growers, service providers, and university researchers from different parts of the country, representing numerous commodities, are participating in the testing phase to offer feedback on pace and direction for ADC’s data bank before it is officially offered to the entire farming community.

“This is an exciting phase for ADC, and underlines that a focused approach to solving key basic data challenges in appreciated” explained Matt Bechdol, the ADC’s interim executive director.

Bechdol described the new repository like a bank. Farmers deposit, or upload, data to a secure cloud where they can organize, manage, and share it. When farmers want to share information – with service providers, insurance agents, researchers, input providers or farm managers, for example – they authorize ADC to transmit it with the click of a button. Service providers can also make deposits with the grower’s permission.

“The key is that farmers remain in complete control of their asset,” said Bechdol. “We just streamline the process for them and ease the data management and transmission burden along the way.”

“We have been working hand-in-hand with technology experts and farm leaders to ensure that the product will be secure, user-friendly and address the primary pains of data management and sharing,” he added. “While this is certainly only a first step, our next steps will be dictated by the farmer leadership on our advisory board, the pilot users, and our diverse group of founding members.”

Bechdol noted that a key message from advisors and stakeholders was to be efficient and leverage strong partners in the marketplace to support the pilot. To achieve that goal, the ADC is working with technical partners Independent Data Management, LLC, the first company to receive the Ag Data Transparent seal, and AgIntegrated, Inc., an expert in connecting a disconnected agriculture for nearly a decade.

“This is a very important step in our efforts to allow for our farmers and growers to fully harness the power of their data,” said Deb Casurella, Chief Executive Officer of Independent Data Management. “We are very excited to be working with the ADC as a technical partner, and look forward to helping the coalition in the future as we continue on our mission to build a neutral, efficient and cost-effective repository to store this valuable information.”

“We are thrilled that ADC selected the Onsite® platform as the enabling technology for connecting farmers and their trusted advisors,” said Duane Reese, President of AgIntegrated. “Our secure, neutral platform provides the ideal environment to facilitate the flow of information between individuals, equipment, and software systems by empowering the network of individuals that work with them.”

ADC’s founding members include: AGCO, The American Farm Bureau Federation, Auburn University, CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, Ice Miller LLP, Mississippi State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, The Ohio State University, Purdue University, Raven Industries, Topcon Positioning Group.

Farmers interested in learning more about data collection, and organizations interested in joining ADC’s efforts, should visit www.AgDataCoalition.org.

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AgGateway Launches Next Phase in Major SPADE Precision Agriculture Project — July 23, 2015

AgGateway Press Release:

Washington, D.C., July 23, 2015 – AgGateway’s Precision Agriculture Council has launched a third phase of its successful Standardized Precision Ag Data Exchange (SPADE) Project, which will expand on existing work related to automated data exchange in modern farm operations, to focus on crop scouting, crop nutrition, wireless asset and vehicle data exchange, and automation of commodity data for rail and truck transport.

The project, which is a collaboration of 24 companies and precision ag experts, will continue to provide improved efficiency and time savings for growers, giving farmers the ability to seamlessly share data with valued trading partners and for regulatory compliance, while improving accuracy and tracking capabilities. SPADE3 is expected to be completed in December 2016.

“SPADE continues to be one of the most productive and exciting activities in precision agriculture today,” said Project Chair Jeremy Wilson of Crop IMS. “We are already seeing applications in the field from these seminal efforts, with much more to come. As these changes are implemented, growers in the U.S. and around the world will be able to better manage their operations, with huge potential benefits in terms of their ongoing productivity and profitability.”

Project participants to date include Ag Connections, Ag Leader, AGCO, AgIntegrated, Charles Hillyer (Texas A&M), CNH Industrial, Crop IMS, Digi-Star, DTN, F4F Agriculture, Farmobile, Inserto, Heartland Co-op, Land O’Lakes, OAGi, Praxidyn, ProAg, Software Solutions Integrated, SST Software, Syngenta, Topcon, Trimble, XS Inc., and ZedX. The project is still accepting participants; for more information contact Jim Wilson at jim.wilson@AgGateway.org or contact AgGateway Member Services at member.services@AgGateway.org.

SPADE, which was launched in 2012, has produced essential work for seamless data exchange in seeding operations, field operations data interoperability (including developing a conversion toolbox called ADAPT for data exchange), harvest operations, U.S. regulatory reporting, and crop protection operations. SPADE3 will specifically focus on seeding operations implementation, field operations data interoperability (ADAPT implementation), harvest operations implementation, crop protection operations implementation, crop nutrition, grain handling, crop scouting and telematics. The wireless asset and vehicle focus will look at connectivity of computer devices on the farm regardless of brand – a common weakness in a farmer’s efforts today to capture and use data related to crop management. The rail and truck segment of the project will focus on ways to transact data used to track harvested grain from the field through the logistics process, and to the grain management system.

Project participants will also work to integrate SPADE with AgGateway’s Ag Industry Identification System (AGIIS), an interactive database and set of services to provide reference data to agribusinesses, helping make electronic communication possible.

More information on SPADE will be available at InfoAg in St. Louis, Mo., later this month, and at the AgGateway Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, November 9-12. For more information, go to www.AgGateway.org.

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AgGateway is a non-profit consortium of businesses serving the agriculture industry which helps member companies improve their profitability and productivity by promoting, enabling and expanding eBusiness in agriculture. www.AgGateway.org

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Deere, AgIntegrated Work on Smart Use of Data — November 13, 2014

Article from ZimmComm New Media’s AgWired: By John Davis

The challenge in precision ag these days seems to be less about how much data can be created – plenty of tools and programs to tell you everything about your operation – and more about how to create just the data needed without making farmers try to drink from some firehouse of information. One of John Deere’s partner companies definitely sees it that way and was part of the program of the recent 2014 Develop with Deere conference in Kansas City.

Christopher Haak with AgIntegrated shared the stage with Tyler Hogrefe and brought a lot of the same thoughts on data transfer to the table but from a John Deere partner company perspective.

“The agricultural industry did a great job and made a lot of implements and had a lot of tools for a number of years,” he told Chuck during an interview. “But the real problem has been how to effectively transfer that information and get it to end-users so they could make practical decisions almost on the fly.”

Christopher added usability of the data is getting better, as bandwidth is still at a premium, especially in rural America, and time is always money for farmers. He said we don’t necessarily need to be able to generate more data, but producers do need more effective ways of accessing the information they need when they want it.

“I think the next generation of precision ag tools is going focus around smart usage of data, not more creation of data,” he said.

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GROWMARK Teams Up with AgIntegrated to Architect and Develop the FS Advanced Information Services Platform — August 14, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Illinois and STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania – (July 22, 2014) – GROWMARK today announced the selection of AgIntegrated (AGI), the independent provider of ag information management consulting and technologies, to lead the development of FS Advanced Information Services (FS AIS). FS AIS is a suite of tools that connects data, analysis, insight, and application into one complete user experience for advanced field optimization.

By leveraging AGI’s vast experience building and integrating precision software solutions, GROWMARK is able to focus its efforts on providing growers and FS company staff with the best-in-class user experience and the most informed agronomic decision-making capabilities.

“We are excited about the partnering opportunities AgIntegrated brings to GROWMARK as we continue to design and build FS AIS,” said Ron Milby, GROWMARK executive director, Agronomy Marketing. “As information and enabling technologies continued to advance at the farm level, we needed to create services that combined our business systems, agronomic systems, and industry partner’s systems into one holistic platform to help our members provide better insight, generate efficiencies, and make decisions. AgIntegrated had the knowledge, technology, and expertise to assist us in bringing FS AIS to the market.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Ron and the GROWMARK team,” said Duane Reese, AgIntegrated President, “GROWMARK shares our vision of a modern, connected system that enables the best of today’s technologies from across the industry, while maintaining a close eye on usability and future information needs. I am particularly thrilled that FS AIS will be using a majority of our Onsite platform for their data movement, processing, and storage needs”

GROWMARK is a regional cooperative providing agronomy, energy, facility planning, and logistics products and services, as well as grain marketing and risk management services in more than 40 states and Ontario, Canada. GROWMARK owns the FS trademark, which is used by affiliated member cooperatives, to serve more than 250,000 customers. More information is available at www.growmark.com.

AgIntegrated is an independent provider of software consulting and technologies with an “Intel Inside” approach to software development and ag information solutions. At its core, AgIntegrated believes in leveraging and enabling current technologies and the people that use the technologies on a daily basis to advance precision agriculture and in turn increase yields. By taking this approach, AgIntegrated helps to prevent many of the problems that have held back other industries in the area of interoperability. AgIntegrated works withclients to complete visions for an array of precision ag information management products and services.

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Data Management: Precision Agriculture Can Learn From Healthcare — May 2, 2013

Article from Meister Media’s PrecisionAg.com:

When it comes to managing data, the precision agriculture industry could learn a lot from the healthcare industry’s own data management efforts.

May 02, 2013 – By Kelby Kleinsasser

In my brief foray into Healthcare Information Technology (IT), it took only a couple of weeks to discover that the challenges they faced were harshly reminiscent of what we’re facing in Ag Information Technology.

Yet from a business perspective, the business-to-business arm of Healthcare IT has been lucrative for at least a decade, as evidenced by the fact that there are about a dozen publicly-held Healthcare IT companies. So what’s the problem in Ag IT? Why aren’t pure Ag IT companies scaling like their counterparts in Healthcare IT? What’s holding Ag IT back?

Before I start, let me clarify some terminology. Healthcare IT is served by hardware and software companies whose mission is to improve patient safety, health care quality, efficiency, data collection and potentially help restrain rising costs. Ag IT is similar in that it is served by a combination of hardware and software companies. While I don’t discount the role of hardware in Ag IT, my analysis has been skewed towardssoftware companies providing software across a range of areas. Table 1 shows some examples of different types of software products within each industry.

You might be thinking, where’s telematics? Telematics is akin to how a medical device communicates with the Internet to move its data — it is infrastructure. You can think about telematics as infrastructure right along with local and wide-area networks (LAN/WAN), cellular systems, Wi-Fi, networking, security appliances and other Internet backbone technologies and protocols. One of the biggest reasons that Healthcare IT has been able to scale as an industry — to the tune of $24 billion by 2015 — far earlier than Ag IT is that core Healthcare IT relies on an exceedingly mature LAN/WAN infrastructure. In Ag IT, the infrastructure that we need to achieve breakout growth is still being built and installed, all the way out to the machine.

Just a couple of years ago, there were large areas of the U.S. that weren’t covered with cellular signals. Today, even in lesser developed international markets, access to signal has reached a tipping point. In Ag IT, we will continue to rely on companies’ investments in infrastructure for several years. Those companies will continue to be incentivized with a disproportionate amount of the available profit while this is underway, with the longer term shift toward companies servicing the end consumer more directly.

Fits And Starts

Now, let’s shift gears and move away from hardware and infrastructure toward the pure software aspects of Ag IT (see Table 1). Where Healthcare IT and Ag IT maintain striking similarities is in the area of interoperability between software systems — more specifically, the lack thereof. With the passage of the Federal HITECH Act in February 2009, new rules were created demanding interoperability within Healthcare IT. Out of the $25 billion dedicated to driving the adoption of Healthcare IT, roughly $600 million was targeted at the states to build out state-level Health Information Exchanges. Because of the sophisticated nature of the Health Information Exchanges grant program, actual data on implementation of Health Information Exchanges is very difficult to interpret. But the overwhelming sentiment in Healthcare IT is that the money has not been effective in driving Health Information Exchange development and adoption because many states basically licensed a commercially available product and “checked the boxes.”

As a result of this tokenism, interoperability goals in Healthcare IT are still far from being met. Furthermore, the federal dollars will dry up without the emergence of a compelling and sustainable industry business model. Consequently, businesses — especially actual healthcare facilities — have been very reluctant to make investments in Health Information Exchanges because it will ultimately end up being reflected as a cost increase to the patient.

Because of all this, as recently as March of this year, I maintained some serious doubts that Healthcare IT was on the right track in the area of interoperability. However, a recent announcement made by a newly formed organization called the CommonWell Health Alliance has many in the industry suddenly bullish on the future of interoperability in Healthcare IT. The organization was formed by several of the country’s top Healthcare IT software companies, most of them publicly held. This alliance has been formed with the following mission:

  • The CommonWell Health Alliance aims to define and promote the following core services and standards while enabling care integration and data liquidity.
  • Patient Linking and Matching: Provide a way for vendors to identify patients as they move from setting to setting, in a robust and seamless industry-wide data environment.
  • Patient Access and Consent Management: Foster a HIPAA-compliant, patient-controlled means to simplify the management of consents and authorizations for data sharing.
  • Record Locator Service and Directed Query: Enable providers to match the locations of a patient’s previous health care encounters, no matter where the encounter occurred, and gain access to that data in an industry standard way.

Speaking at the press conference announcing Common­Well’s launch, Cerner CEO Neal Patterson said, “It’s time for vendors, even as they continue to compete in the marketplace, to break down their data silos.” He added that progress on the data liquidity front would have to come from the private sector. “Our government is not going to deal with this problem.”

Interestingly, Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology for the United States, has taken issue with this commercial alliance. “The question to ask is, will it work, will it help move us forward? Many efforts have tried to be ‘the’ network, but it can’t come at the price of inhibiting other good activities,” he said.

I’m having a difficult time believing Mostashari’s contention that the CommonWell Health Alliance isn’t going to move things forward, considering that the history of interoperability in Healthcare IT has seen tens of thousands of peer-to-peer integrations between systems. An entire sub-industry was created within Healthcare IT just to support the old model with untold billions going toward consulting and product development. Most of these costs were ultimately paid by the provider and passed along to the patient. A new study from the West Health Institute says that $35 billion of an estimated $750 billion in healthcare waste per year could be eliminated from the system by solving the problem of interoperability.

Regardless of how Health Information Exchanges ultimately take their final shape, the HITECH Act has definitely driven adoption of Electronic Health Record/Electronic Medical Record technologies as intended, so there is some positive news for Healthcare IT. However, there are numerous qualitative aspects of the new adoption that are cause for concern today. Moreover, one of the unforeseen consequences of all the changes in Healthcare IT caused by the government has been a complete paralysis of innovation. Virtually every software company in Healthcare IT has been forced to shift resources from R&D to becoming certified in the new environment. These certifications, called the Stages of the Meaningful Use within the HITECH Act, are scheduled to extend into 2016, leaving little hope of things improving any time soon.

Key Takeaways For Ag

For Ag IT, the lessons to be learned from Healthcare IT are abundant — and none are as clear as how to go about achieving interoperability and the need to proactively take matters into our own hands. Commercial entities must come together in order to prevent waste from being a necessary step in the process. I’m happy to report that there’s a lot of great news, because there are already many great efforts taking place in Ag IT. Many of those efforts are focused on solving engineering challenges related to equipment interoperability. For the pure software aspects of Ag IT there’s already an organization that stands out as the candidate capable of making a seismically positive impact on Ag IT. It is the AgGateway organization, and while the organization is structured and operated as a not for profit, it is constituted almost entirely of commercial entities with common interest in collaboration across organizational boundaries.

The mission of AgGateway is very similar to that of the CommonWell Health Alliance in that its focus is on interoperability. The big difference is that AgGateway has been around for almost a decade and is highly organized and managed. For the past four years, AgGateway has consistently achieved more than a 35% growth rate in its membership and today is made up of about 180 companies including all of the names you’re probably thinking of right now. The key issue being addressed in AgGateway is data standards, and that’s no easy thing to tackle. It’s well understood in both Healthcare IT and Ag IT that the lack of data standards is the central issue behind the majority of information systems challenges.

By now you might be exhausted just thinking about reading another article on standards, so we’ll exit the topic on a high note. Progress can and is being made. With the continued support from agribusinesses like the members of AgGateway and other groups, the opportunity to avoid the calamities that have occurred in Healthcare IT is within reach. It’s my sincere hope that agribusinesses not only keep investing in these collaboration efforts by being generous with resources, but also make your company’s position well known so your employees and customers can also contribute and participate.

Clearly, this critical component in the future of agribusiness will continue to evolve in the coming days, particularly in the area of software development. Stay tuned for updates as significant advances occur.

Kelby Kleinsasser is a partner/director of consulting services at AgIntegrated, an ag technology consulting firm and maker of the Onsite data management ecosystem. AgIntegrated has a mission to put information to work for ag through innovative technology products and services that promote interoperability amongst systems.

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AgIntegrated Adds To Leadership, Sets Future Course — February 27, 2013

Article from Meister Media’s PrecisionAg.com:

Long time ag technology leader Kelby Kleinsasser is returning to agriculture as part of the leadership team at AgIntegrated, and is excited about current and future initiatives at the company — and the overall outlook for precision agriculture.

February 27, 2013 – By Paul Schrimpf

We here it far and wide in precision agriculture circles: the key to the next wave of technology adoption is in making all the disparate software, hardware, and systems “play nice,” allowing farmers to actually focus on farming and making the most of the data they collect.

Leveling the technological playing field by offering a “color blind” cloud-based solution and inviting manufacturers to participate has put AgIntegrated in the spotlight over the last couple of years. And with the very recent addition of ag technology veteran Kelby Kleinsasser, the company is looking toward further expansion and new horizons.

“We are thrilled to have Kelby join AgIntegrated’s executive team, with responsibilities that include directing and expanding our consulting division,” says Duane Reese, president and co-founder. “Kelby brings a highly relevant set of experiences in the software as a service (SaaS) business and cloud based, data-driven systems across multiple industries including agriculture. The addition of Kelby to our team demonstrates AgIntegrated’s commitment to drive precision ag adoption through open, integrated systems.”

We got an exclusive opportunity to catch Kleinsasser shortly after accepting the position to get his take on why he returned to agriculture for this particular opportunity, and where he sees AgIntegrated heading in the months and years ahead.

Who do you see as your key customers?

Our target is any party in agriculture that develops, institutes, oversees, or otherwise makes decisions on connected ag information technology. Although there are varying terms used to define information management, our definition includes any software that is leveraged in the planning, controlling/execution and analysis of the crop lifecycle.

More specifically, this includes agronomic systems, decision support tools, telemetry platforms, asset (fleet) management, dispatch, ERP (general ledger, etc), and in-field computing (field computers, mobile apps, etc). Our customers and prospects are therefore made up of ag retailers, ASP’s, independent software vendors, and precision technology and specialty hardware manufacturers.

Because more and more agribusinesses are working to streamline and productize their information management offering, we feel strongly that our business can grow by helping them deliver on promises with what is likely to be a messy technology environment at best. And even if an agribusiness has not yet productized information management, they have invariably found themselves in the midst of a sophisticated web of parties who in many ways are competing with one another to earn status as an information manager in the growers’ minds.

We view all of those companies as targets for our services because we know that success is not guaranteed when the technology deck has been stacked against them. In many ways we see ourselves as the proverbial “last mile” of fiber that a cable company or telco lays down to connect their subscriber to a broader infrastructure.

Where is the precision ag industry headed in 2013?

We believe that the industry will move forward quickly if companies capable of investing in information management technology R&D can stay focused on infrastructure and specialized solutions. As long as they are, we won’t see the same money being thrown at multiple supposed one-size-fits-all solutions – the virtual stalemate and a perpetuation of the zero sum game we’ve seen in the past.

We’re pretty stoked that companies such as Raven with the Slingshot API and John Deere with FarmSight are creating infrastructure that will allow integrated solutions to actually work. But, at the same time, we’re also seeing and hearing that most agribusinesses don’t have a clear vision for how they will leverage it and in many cases that they don’t understand it. We will have been successful in 2013 if our targets perceive us as the company who can make it all work.

If the signals we’re reading hold true, we’d expect to see demand for our services and products growing even stronger throughout the next three to five years. Regarding our products such as Onsite, the strategy is pretty simple. We will invest in high quality, open products that enhance our ability to be successful integrators.

Above all, our prospects and especially our customers will see AgIntegrated becoming hyper focused with an accelerating tempo and stronger emphasis on proving that the open movement will deliver the elusive results that ag information systems have been promising.

You stepped away from ag for a little while. What were you working on?

I’ve spent the past year working with a healthcare technology company helping them to achieve scalability and to adjust products that adapt to the rapidly changing regulatory landscape. More broadly speaking, my focus has been — and remains – on R&D and product management of pure SaaS business delivered via Cloud technologies that drives scalability, performance, mobility, and rapid innovation through software that’s easy to enhance.

What excited you about coming back to ag?

One word. Movement. The Collaboration Movement has considerable momentum and it’s creating enormous opportunities for innovation. The landscape is very different from the ag of even three years ago. There are countless opportunities to make a difference leveraging my strengths and interests here so I feel a sense of obligation to get back to work. So when a leader in the Collaboration Movement – AgIntegrated – came calling, it quickly became obvious that now is the time to make this move. I’m very pleased to be a part of the executive team and to be working with a group of very gifted professionals across the organization.

How is this going to affect agriculture?

The leadership at AgIntegrated has a great perspective on what it’s going to take for the business of ag information to grow as a whole and ultimately to use it to meet tomorrow’s demands for food production. We share in our willingness to stick our necks out there and we don’t get too hung up on what people are saying. During my time in the agricultural industry from 2008 through 2012, I was fortunate to meet a lot of people who taught me about agriculture, who care very deeply about it, and who are building awesome products to meet its needs. Building on those products and relationships through a precision ag targeted consulting offering – and some cool new products of our own – our approach to information management will enable the industry’s best products to drive end user value. We think of ourselves as color-blind technology enablers and although the mission of enabling is never done, we believe that we can help shape tomorrow’s ag information landscape.

Schrimpf is the Group Editor for the CropLife Media Group at Meister Media Worldwide, with full editorial responsibility for CropLife, CropLife IRON, Cotton Grower and PrecisionAg Special Reports.

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Capitalizing on the cloud: Wireless connectivity in agriculture will make big gains in 2013 — February 5, 2013

Article from Farm Industry News:

By David Hest

Cloud-based computing in precision agriculture took a huge leap forward in 2012 and is likely to make another big gain in 2013.

In the past 12 months, options for using “the cloud” to provide wireless connectivity to tractor and combine displays grew dramatically, to the point it is now possible to eliminate the frustration of shuffling thumb drives to keep precision ag data up to date.

The number of cloud-based precision software options that add anytime, anywhere data access increased as well. The software promises streamlined decision making by making information available to key farm management players.

Cloud basics

If talk about cloud computing leaves you scratching your head, you are not alone. For the technology geek crowd, a jargon-laced term like “the cloud” provides a strong hint of what this is all about. But for most of us, not so much.

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, defines “cloud computing” as the use of hardware and software computing resources that are delivered over a network, typically the Internet. “The analogy I use is the cloud is what enables online banking,” says Paul Welbig, Raven Industries marketing director. Data (your account information) are stored on server computers. To access the data, you fire up a smartphone or tablet computer application or a computer Web browser, then connect via the Internet to view account information.

Given the mobile nature of farming, wireless connectivity — typically through the cellular communication network — is an inseparable component of cloud computing. Other key components include online data storage that boosts information-sharing possibilities, as well as powerful computing resources using online server computers to streamline data analysis. “Cloud computing can create synergy between farmers, agronomy consultants, retailers, seed companies and other suppliers,” says Trevor Mecham, Case IH Advanced Farming Systems marketing manager. “You are putting a collaborative effort together, through a Web-based service, to share information in real time. That is the holy grail for data management for larger farming operations.”

Connected displays

If wireless connectivity is the core technology behind cloud computing, in-cab displays are the chief targets of the desire to get connected.

“The amount of data flowing to and from farm fields is just unreal,” says Tim Taylor of MapShots, a precision software company. “The industry is very rapidly moving toward wireless transmission of data in real time. Thumb drives will be a thing of the past.”

Here’s a roundup of wireless connectivity options that allow precision ag data to be imported and exported to and from displays. In addition to data transfer options, many systems also include vehicle performance and/or location tracking functions.

Raven began offering wireless services to compatible Raven displays in 2010, when it introduced its Slingshot (ravenslingshot.com) communications system. Slingshot, which also delivers RTK corrections to Raven receivers and most other receiver brands, uses a 3G cellular data modem to minimize data download times. The Slingshot Field Hub kit, which retails for $2,000, includes access to the Slingshot online network. Access keys for third-party software via Slingshot are $150 to $400 annually.

Trimble began offering direct connectivity to its FmX and CFX-750 displays in 2010, enabling wireless import and export of precision data, including yield data, as-applied variety maps, drainage designs, guidance lines and prescription maps. The system is available through the Connected Farm service available to Farm Works Software customers. The annual fee for the office-to-field data transfer is $360. A cellular modem, a data service plan and required Farm Works software are additional. Visit connectedfarm.com.

AgIntegrated (agintegrated.com) introduced Onsite, a cloud-based mobile and desktop application, in 2012. The company designed Onsite to solve the challenge of wirelessly transferring precision ag data to displays not currently supporting wireless data transfer. Onsite also provides a single data transfer system for use in mixed-brand farm equipment fleets. It links precision data stored on office computers to Internet servers that automatically download data to smartphones and tablet computers in the field. Data are then wirelessly transferred to a compact flash card or USB thumb drive via Onsite’s Relay data transfer device for manual download to the display. The annual fee per Onsite account is $499, with volume discounts available for multiple accounts. The list price of the OnSite Relay is $345.

The Outback Max (outbackmax.com) integrated display terminal, introduced by Hemisphere GPS in 2012, provides wireless data transfer using the optional ConnX data management system. ConnX connects the in-cab terminal with the farm office and service providers using AgJunction, AgVerdict, NutriScription HD, OptiGro and Precision.Ag data platforms. The ConnX cellular modem also accesses RTK correction signals and provides Internet connectivity for real-time weather and market information via a custom Web browser. The bundled price for the ConnX service, including a terminal unlock, a CDMA cellular modem, a cellular data plan and access to the ConnX website, is $2,695.

John Deere plans to open the wireless information pipeline to and from its GreenStar 2630 display in time for harvest 2013. The company expects more capabilities to be in place by 2014 planting, including import of prescription planting maps and export of as-applied maps to and from major precision ag software programs, says Charles Schleusner, product line marketing manager for My John Deere Solutions (myjohndeere.com).

“We believe in the value of the cloud for John Deere and our customers,” Schleusner says. “We want to remove a hurdle to allowing producers to easily share data with key advisors to help them make profitable decisions.”

To help accomplish that, John Deere, which is collaborating with outside companies to make data transfer seamless, has introduced MyJohnDeere.com, a centralized online portal to access, view, archive and manage business information. Prices for data sharing and advanced features on MyJohnDeere.com are yet to be released. The MyJohnDeere Web portal is available for access today free of charge.

In addition to the GreenStar 3 display 2630, users need a JDLink, which includes the Modular Telematics Gateway (MTG) cellular modem, which has been standard on 8R tractors since 2011 and has been standard on all John Deere large agricultural machines since 2012. My John Deere Solutions are available on other brands equipped with the required GreenStar 3 2630 display and MTG.

Oberg Family Farms, Kragnes, Minn., runs its Case IH equipment on rented ground near Argusville, N.D. Photo: Mike Krivit

Cloud-based precision software

Precision ag software companies have incorporated cloud capabilities ranging from data transfer to online data storage, seamless behind-the-scenes online computing to supplement PC software, and Web-based programs that reside solely on the cloud.

Here’s a look at several cloud-capable precision ag software options.

AgJunction (agjunction.com), which was purchased by Hemisphere GPS in 2012, is a totally cloud-based software program. All data are stored and analyzed on remote server computers and accessed through a Web browser. It is available through service providers such as fertilizer dealers and agronomists, including Wilbur Ellis (AgVerdict), Crop Productions Services (NutriScription HD), Jimmy Sanders (OptiGro) and Precision Ag Consultants (Precision.Ag).

Farm Works Software (farmworks.com), a division of Trimble, uses the cloud to wirelessly synchronize Farm Works data on office computers and FmX and CFX-750 displays via its Connected Farm (connectedfarm.com) service.

MapShots AgStudio (mapshots.com), new to farmers in 2012, is a hybrid office computer and cloud-based program. It stores precision ag data on the cloud, but office computing power is used to analyze data and develop application prescriptions.

FarmRite, from SST Software (sstsoftware.com), has been available to ag retailers and their customers for more than a decade and is a totally cloud/Web-based precision ag program. It is designed to process variable-rate fertility recommendations, yield maps and other analyses and decision-support services.

Cloud decision aids

Two cloud-based nutrient management and variable-rate seeding prescription development services introduced in 2012 hint at a future where sophisticated farm-specific decision aids will be a mouse click away.

United Soils Inc. (unitedsoilsinc.com) designed i-F.A.R.M. to bring sophisticated crop nutrient management tools to any Internet-connected computer. The open-platform program’s tools allow the importation of soil test data from any soil test laboratory, and yield data from major yield monitor brands. Web-based tools then manipulate data to develop downloadable fertilizer prescriptions based on soil fertility, nutrient removal from the previous crop, yield goals, fertilizer prices and other management factors. The i-F.A.R.M. program is available through participating fertilizer dealers, often as part of a service package, or by direct subscription for $400 to $600 annually, plus a per-acre controller file creation fee.

The R7 Tool from Winfield Solutions (winfield.com), the seed and crop protection products arm of Land O’Lakes, harnesses the power of industrial-strength computers and software to bring a Web-based precision planning tool to the farm. The tool, which was rolled out to Winfield retailers in the fall of 2011, allows farmers without extensive yield and grid soil sampling records to get a start in variable-rate seeding and fertility. It crunches data harvested from multiple years of satellite images to identify management zones, assist in building variable-rate seeding and fertilizer prescriptions, and identify top genetics. The R7 Tool is available from Winfield Solutions retailers.

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Onsite Wins 2013 FinOvation Award! — December 19, 2012

Article from Farm Industry News:

2013 FinOvation Awards: Seed traits, autonomous systems, electronics and more

By the staff of Farm Industry News

Our 2013 FinOvation Award winners are 20 new products that represent the wide range of inputs farmers purchase for row-crop farming. The products range from a new corn rootworm trait and a seed treatment co-formulated with bacteria to a new Russian-designed combine and a variable-rate planting system. Farm Industry News chose these products as the most innovative agricultural products of 2012, based on reader interest. All of the new products appeared in Farm Industry News or on farmindustrynews.com during the past 12 months. Featured in this gallery are the winners in the seed trait, seed treatment, fungicide, herbicide, telemetry system, cloud-based management, cloud-based communication, tools, autonomous vehicle and grain handling categories. The other 10 FinOvation award winners are located in another gallery.

Readers are invited to select their favorite products out of all 20 FinOvation Award winners. Based on the voting results, Farm Industry News will honor the Product of the Year winner at the National Farm Machinery Show held Feb. 13-16, 2013. Voting takes place on farmindustrynews.com and will be open by early January.

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13 New Mobile Agriculture Apps For 2013 — December 7, 2012

Article from Meister Media’s CropLife Magazine:

These recently introduced mobile apps for agriculture are worth a try in 2013.

December 7, 2012 – By Matt Hopkins

In case you’re keeping score at home, the Apple App store recently surpassed 35 billion downloads, while the Google Play Store (Android market) just crossed the 25 billion download milestone. No wonder kids know how to play Angry Birds before they learn how to tie their shoes. It’s a numbers game.

Not only are mobile apps soaring in popularity among U.S. consumers, they are becoming more mainstream in agriculture. Consider nearly one in four ag retailers are using ag-related apps “several times a week,” according to a 2012 CropLife Media Group Ag Retailer Mobile Usage survey. The app is now an essential tool in a mobile ag professional’s arsenal.

So, what are the latest agriculture apps for the Android, iPhone, iPad and other mobile devices in 2013? I have attempted to answer this question – just as I did with my lists in 2011 and early 2012 – by researching the best new apps released within the past nine months:

1. Simplot Spray Guide. Developed in cooperation with Precision Laboratories and Simplot, the Spray Guide app quickly and accurately identifies the ideal mixing order of crop protection products. The app streamlines the process of mixing, spraying and record keeping. Users can instantly document and share data on products sprayed, location and weather conditions. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

2. Mobile Farm Manager. This app from John Deere gives producers easier access to important farm and field information through their mobile device. The app also connects to customers’ Apex farm management software. Features include field maps, historical reports, GPS tracking, field navigation and soil sampling grids. (iPhone, iPad)

3. SpraySelect. The TeeJet Technologies SpraySelect app enables users to quickly and easily choose the proper spray tip for a given application. Enter speed, tip spacing and target rate, then select the droplet size category and a list of recommended tips is provided. Specific gravity input is also included for use when applying liquid fertilizers. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

4. Connected Farm. This app from Trimble allows farmers and agronomists to map field boundaries, enter scouting attributes for pests (weeds, insects, diseases), take geo-referenced photos and manage collected data online through Trimble’s Connected Farm. The app is flexible to use with any crop, including corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

5. AgStudio MAP. MapShots AgStudio Mobile Application Platform (MAP) is optimized for mapping field boundaries and recording data associated with precision ag soil sampling programs. Designed to seamlessly integrate with MapShots AgStudio precision agronomy application, the app wirelessly transmits soil sample work order information and completed job files. (iPhone, iPad)

6. Onsite. Onsite is a cloud-based, mobile and desktop app that assists with file management and communications to and from the field by socially connecting people. Developed by AgIntegrated, the program allows users to directly access equipment telematics systems such as Raven Slingshot, build a network of connections to send and share files to other colleagues and locate connections (individuals or equipment) on their desktop or smartphone. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

7. Maximum Return To Nitrogen (MRTN) Calculator. Developed by the University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices, the app helps farmers and crop advisors determine the optimum nitrogen rate for corn and plan for split applications of nitrogen (fall, pre-plant, and post-applied). The MRTN calculator also enables users to choose from various sources of nitrogen, add in stabilizers and calculate the corresponding application costs. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

8. Weed Manager PLUS. Weed Manager PLUS is the latest tool added to Monsanto’s Roundup Ready PLUS Weed Management Solutions platform. The app provides weed management recommendations by region and crop, calculates potential incentives for farmers who use endorsed residual herbicide products and delivers a tank mixing tool and measurement conversion calculator. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

9. agSeedSelect. This is Monsanto’s first attempt at building an app for its seed brands: Asgrow, DEKALB and Deltapine. agSeedSelect lets users create, store, e-mail and print a custom seed guide tailored to their specific geography and crops. Featuring videos by territory agronomists, the app provides detailed information on products for corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

10. Agrowdata. This mobile portal contains the latest global commodity price data. The app offers easy-to-view screens, which include graphs of historical and futures prices and comparison graphs of commodity prices over the same period allowing users to identify trends and correlations. Other features include handy conversion calculators, futures and swaps contract specifications and recent ag-related news. (iPhone, iPad)

11. AgFleet. ZedX recently launched a new app to compliment its Web-based AgFleet service. Functionality includes AgFleet account synchronization; boundary and attribute logging; soil sampling; option to provide driving directions to a field; and in-field navigation to target soil sample points. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

12. LoadOut. This app from Lextech allows drivers to control grain loading from inside the cab, helping to streamline the process and increase driver safety. LoadOut enables drivers to view a camera positioned above the grain loader from their iPhone while in the truck. From a push of the button, they can begin – or stop – the loading process. (iPhone)

13. Extreme Beans. A new app developed by the United Soybean Board includes two calculators that help farmers plan for their next crop. One helps users determine whether the yield benefits of various input combinations justify the costs. The other uses the main maturity rates for a farmer’s region, the cost of soybean seed and an estimated price of the soybeans at the time of sale to determine an optimal seeding rate based on a percentage of return. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

So I encourage you download and try one or more of these agriculture apps in 2013. You’ll likely find they are as easy as using a slingshot to fling angry birds at annoying pigs – but hopefully not as addictive.

Honorable Mention

Sprayer Calibration (in development). Mississippi State University Extension is in the process of developing a new app to help farmers properly calibrate sprayers, an involved process with the potential for making mistakes. This app will require the end user to enter a variety of inputs, such as orifice size on the spray tips, spray pressure, speed of the tractor, chemical quantity and tank size. The app will use these figures to calculate proper calibration for the sprayer. (iPhone, iPad)

Mix Tank 2.0 (update). Precision Laboratories has released an update to its Mix Tank app (along with an Android version). Mix Tank 2.0 allows applicators to quickly create, save and share spray logs with GPS location information and integrated weather data. New spray logs feature a stopwatch to record start and stop times, as well as total spraying time. Spray details, including location, time sprayed and weather data, are integrated into the new spray logs for easy sharing and recordkeeping. (Android, iPhone, iPad)

Optimizer 2.0 (update). Developed by Advanced Ag Solutions, the newly updated Optimizer 2.0 allows users to upload GPS soil sampling data, including phosphorus, potassium, pH and organic matter. Other apps use the standard national soil data set, but Optimizer 2.0 projects relevant information that is related to the user’s actual management practices. (Available on most mobile devices)

Hopkins is Senior Online Editor for the CropLife, Cotton and International Media Groups at Meister Media Worldwide.

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