Jack Phillips, owner and manager of J F Phillips Farms, realized he needed a farm record keeping platform that allows him to keep track of everything that happens on his farm. What Jack didn’t want however, was to offer seed, chemical and fertilizer companies or equipment suppliers any kind of transparency into his data, so they could use this data to his disadvantage.
When Jack’s financial advisor, AgKnowledge director Alan Grafton, part of K-Coe Isom, started to work with Agworld, Jack was interested and got a demo for himself. After seeing the power of the Agworld platform and what it could do on his farm, Jack decided to adopt Agworld as well.
By using Agworld, J F Phillips Farms is able to aggregate data on one standardized platform which allows for better tracking of crop inputs and costs, all the way from on-farm delivery to field application. As a result of this, Jack has been able to become more accurate with his inputs, more careful with exactly where he spends his money and he has gained the ability for good post-season analyses. Jack is also able to simplify the farms job management, as all his employees now have the right level of data-access for whatever job they need to do.
Farming in the Mississippi Delta
Jack Phillips is a fifth-generation farmer in Holly Bluff, MS. On his 7,000 acres of land, of which 85% is irrigated, Jack mainly grows corn, cotton and soybeans with some rice, wheat and peanuts mixed in, depending on commodity prices and rotational demands. Jack had not planned to become a farmer but, fresh out of college back in 2010, he realized that some exciting new technologies were about to change agriculture and so he started his own farming operation. Eight years later, having grown from zero to 7,000 acres, Jack realized that he needed a record keeping system to help streamline his operation: “There are a lot of moving parts going on in my operation – I knew I needed a sophisticated system to help me manage all those moving parts.”
“There are a lot of things that, if you don’t write them down immediately, you forget soon after. Especially with the increase in size of our operation, it has become very hard to have my hand on each and every seed, chemical or fertilizer application for each field. So, one of the things I was having a real problem with on my farm, was knowing what products went on which fields and knowing that at the end of the year; every bit of seed, chemical and fertilizer that I paid for, made it to the farm. This is what drove me to start researching farm management systems initially and when my financial advisor Alan Grafton (AgKnowledge) started to use Agworld, I soon realized that I would be best off making the same choice.”
Choosing a Data Platform
Choosing a farm management system, however, was not a quick and easy task for Jack as he had very specific requirements for any system he would consider using. Jack elaborates: “When you choose a farm management system, you know you have to pick the right platform the first time around, as switching later down the line just complicates things a lot more again. So, I sat down and looked at all my available options.”
“What I was very clear on with choosing my platform, is that I didn’t want my farm data in a place where either my seed, chemical, and fertilizer companies or my equipment suppliers can access it. All these companies are trying to establish their own data platforms for growers to put their data on, but I don’t want that kind of transparency with them. I feel that I have the right to use my farm data to my own advantage – I don’t want third parties to have access to my data so they can use it to their advantage, and potentially my disadvantage. When I found out that Agworld is independently owned and that nobody has access to my data unless I explicitly grant them access, like my financial advisor Alan Grafton for example, I knew that Agworld is the kind of company I want to partner with.”
“Another requirement I have for my farm management solution, is the availability of a solid app that I can use anywhere I want to. More and more things on the farm are becoming record keeping intensive and, it’s difficult to be in an office and on a piece of equipment at the same time. One of the reasons that I like Agworld so much is that I can do pretty much everything on my iPad – so I can basically turn any piece of equipment into my office. It didn’t take me long at all to figure out how to use the app and pretty soon I was using Agworld on my iPad anywhere in the field, in the cab, on the couch or anywhere else.”
Margins for most farmers are getting smaller every year and many are therefore trying to establish how they can mitigate this problem. Jack has his own ideas on what enables him to get every last dollar out of every crop and maximize his profit: “In my operation, it’s quite often different people that receive inputs from a supplier, mix them and then apply them. And, with the size of the operation, it’s not like I’ve got somebody sitting at a desk who does all the record keeping for me. With so many people doing so many different jobs, it’s hard to track things unless you record it as soon as it happens. And that’s where Agworld comes in: it allows my employees to record things as they happen. ”
“For me, that’s another important part of my operation that Agworld streamlines: job management. Agworld makes everything a lot easier by putting all the data in my men’s hands, whenever they need it. With Agworld, they can always have a look on their iPhone or iPad and know exactly what they should be doing. This has really raised our efficiency; whereas my sprayer operator used to have to come to the office, get maps of what we wanted to spray, where we were going to spray it and the different tank mixes for different areas. Agworld does that all for us now, which creates a lot less risk of the wrong chemicals getting mixed up or the wrong rates getting applied.”
“By recording all our data on Agworld daily, my financial consultant Alan Grafton and I have a solid base of data on which we can do our end of year analysis. It's easy to look at a yield map and differentiate high yield areas and low yield areas but, with Agworld, we can take it one step further and look at every aspect or every piece of the pie and separate them and see where correlations, negative or positive, were going on within your operation. So, we may identify something that we did on a certain number of fields that increased our profitability. Before we started using Agworld, being able to identify each and everything that went on in that field, was really difficult if not impossible. Agworld has really simplified the process of maximizing our profit for me, in every aspect of our operation.
"When I found out that Agworld is independently owned and that nobody else has access to my data unless I explicitly grant them access, I knew that Agworld is the kind of company I want to partner with."
The Roberts’ family farming operation captured data, but mainly in excel spreadsheets together with a total of 55 separate apps. When Ben Roberts joined the family farm, he was determined to make the process of capturing and utilizing data easier and derive more value from the farm data in the end.
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