Using a data-driven platform to provide superior service
When Nathan Stewart decided to start his own agronomic consultancy organization, he soon realized that he needed sophisticated digital tools to help set himself apart from the competition. Nathan looked for a tool that would help him with his daily work as an agronomist as well as allow him to scale his business and offer additional services to his clients.
Nathan knew it would be necessary to implement digital tools to diversify his company. After evaluating several Ag softwares, Nathan decided to implement Agworld into his organization to streamline crop inputs, outputs and returns. As Agvantage Consulting has expanded, Nathan has ensured that all agronomists who join his team use Agworld, which allows the company to grow effectively with consistent processes and tools.
Through using Agworld and utilizing it to provide superior services to his clients, Nathan has been able to grow his business and scale his services sustainably. Now, Nathan and his team always have accurate and up-to-date information with them in the field and they know the exact field history. By storing his data on the Agworld platform, Nathan also sets himself up for offering additional data-driven services to his clients in the future.
Starting an agronomic consultancy business
When Nathan Stewart finished college, he worked in sales roles for the first eight years of his career, followed by three years as a corporate PCA and agronomic consultant. With his entrepreneurial spirit and experience, Nathan decided to start Agvantage Consulting. Nathan: “My family are third generation cattle farmers, so farming is in my blood and I’ve been around farming in Northern California my whole life. Then when I went to college, I majored in Ag systems management with a minor in ag business and a master’s in business. So, when I decided the time was right to start my own business, it was only natural to combine my passions for agriculture and business with my experience in sales and agronomic consulting.”
When Nathan started Agvantage Consulting back in 2014, he only had 4,000 acres to consult on but was looking to grow this number as fast as he could. Nathan explains: “With a limited network, word of mouth and aggressive prospecting, I was able to grow my customer base and business in 3 short years. This was also one of the main reasons why I was eager to start working with Agworld; the collaborative platform allows me to set myself and my business apart from the competition by enabling me to offer data-driven products and services to my clients. Especially when I started, most other agronomic service providers in the area would have more experience than me, but by adopting Agworld and using it to offer new and innovative services to my clients, I was able to compete and succeed in the marketplace.”
Managing a growing team and business
Soon after Agvantage Consulting was started, Nathan found himself growing his business as well as his team. As is the case with any business, being able to scale without losing focus on the quality of the services provided is key. Nathan elaborates: “From when I began the business, I have increased our acres more than 10 times and I have added 4 team members in the process. This is really where I see Agworld adding value: Agworld helped me scale the business rapidly and the platform made sure that my new agronomists knew exactly what was going on in every field while the customer doesn't experience any difference in the service they receive.”
Being able to use Agworld to his advantage, Nathan is very honest about what is involved: “Agworld is a great tool and has acted as a slingshot for my business, but you have to actively use Agworld to reap these benefits. Agworld doesn’t work for everybody and if you are not using it and inputting the information, you cannot reasonably expect good data and results to come out of it. You have to input complete and correct information to make sure that you get the results you need.”
“We use Agworld on a daily basis for record keeping of field information. At the beginning of the season this starts with basic information such as crop, varieties, rootstocks, spacings, irrigation types, soil type, and then from there we continue with creating a plan for the season. As the season progresses, we keep track of all the inputs and actuals. At any given time during the season, we know exactly which inputs have been used on a play-by-play basis. Because we keep track of all this information, every bit of important data is available to us at all times – wherever we might be. It is not just us that have access to this information, the grower can see the exact same information and collaborate with us on Agworld if he chooses to do so.”
Supporting customer service with data
Being an agronomic service provider in a highly competitive marketplace such as California, meant that Agvantage Consulting had to come up with innovative ways to provide extra services to their clients. Using Agworld has also added a certain professionalism to his business Nathan says: “When I sit down with a new grower at the beginning of the year, I show them how we create their budget and how we are going to execute on this budget during the season.”
“I can just tell them: you will know at any given time during the season how much you’re spending and I am going to give you very detailed maps of your fields, so they can give accurate drop-off locations to their input providers for example. It sounds basic but it’s amazing how many growers don’t have access to this basic information yet. There are still people doing this on Excel and that’s archaic and a thing of the past in my mind.”
Nathan: “When my team and I use Agworld, we use it for scouting services such as pest counts for example as well as the agronomy component; nutritional planning etc. Our team is able to provide our clients with real time information on their costs at any given point in the season. We are also able to provide them with updated maps of their fields as well as drop off locations for products (which is helpful for them when ordering products which will be delivered by their suppliers). Although this seems simple, digitizing this type of information is still new to many farming operations, which have historically been primarily paper based.”
“Planning in Agworld is another differentiator for us when working with our clients. We are able to build their crop production plan for the season in Agworld; which provides them with an accurate list of their required inputs for the season. This information helps them with forecasting and puts them in a better position to negotiate pricing with their suppliers. I am passionate about helping our growers to be more successful in any way we can - with production as well as cost management.”
Nathan concludes with: “Ultimately, this is the value that Agworld provides us: their data driven platform allows us to align ourselves with the business interests of our growers. So, instead of us being a basic agronomic consultancy firm, with Agworld we can provide integrated data-driven business intelligence services that really add value for our clients. With Agworld, it feels like we become an integral part of a growing operation, and that is when everyone involved in the process becomes a winner.”
When one of Colusa County Farm Supply’s (CCFS) growers showed agronomist Jim Pingrey what Agworld looks like and how it can help farmers as well as agronomists, Jim and his colleagues became interested in how it could improve the growers forecast with chemical and fertility management.
Emerald Farms partner and general manager Leon Etchepare was struggling to keep track of all the information and tasks that were being performed on his farm in Maxwell, CA. As he was trying to achieve more vertical integration of his farming operation, he knew that he needed a centralized platform that would deliver him the information he needed, when he needed it.
Creating an easier and more accurate billing process
David Boersma used to spend a lot of time at the end of every month sorting out the jobs that needed to be billed out to his clients for that month. He had to look through eight hand-written books to find out which jobs everyone had performed and worried that jobs would still get missed.
Vann Brothers has seen rapid growth of their almond orchard as part of their vertically integrated operation. A growing team, new legislation and an increased demand for transparency from the end-consumers of their product meant that old record keeping methods were no longer viable.