Achieving efficiencies by collaborating on the same platform
Valley Agronomics was looking for a tool that would empower their agronomists to offer better services and outcomes to their grower customers. Grower, Luke Adams, was looking for a better way to work with his trusted advisor, reduce his risks, and keep accurate records.
Valley Agronomics decided to adopt Agworld as an organization and include the Agworld grower subscription in their Platinum Precision Program for growers. Luke Adams, one of Valley’s growers, decided to adopt Agworld so he would be digitally connected with his agronomist and have a platform for his record keeping needs.
Valley is now leading the field of digital ag services and, as a result of using Agworld, are able to offer a superior package to their growers. Luke Adams is able to work more closely with his agronomist and has cut a lot of paperwork and double-entry of data out of his daily work. He now starts his season well equipped with budgets and plans, and has better insights into his data throughout the season when he needs to make crop management decisions.
Digitizing the co-op – grower relationship
Back in 2014, Valley Agronomics started to search for a digital platform to help them strengthen their grower relationships. In 2015, the choice was made to adopt the Agworld platform throughout their 24 locations in Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and connect as many of their 350 employees as possible. Valley agronomist, and plant manager of the Paul & Hansen, ID locations, Scott Freiburger explains the rationale behind this move: “Although technology is not replacing any people, we recognised early that technology was becoming increasingly more important. Our scouts have to cover more acres and scouting everything manually is impossible without having technology, such as imagery, to pinpoint trouble spots and show them where they should be taking a look”.
When making the decision to equip their staff with digital tools, Valley recognised that this same tool should also be easily accessible to their growers and offer them significant advantages; both in collaborating with their agronomists and with record keeping on the farm. Scott explains: “At Valley we run this great program called the ‘Platinum Precision Subscription’. Basically it offers our growers the benefit of all our best tools which enables them to maximise their return on investment. Agworld is the cornerstone of this subscription and focuses on providing our growers with the resource that helps them manage all their digital farming needs.” When Valley Ag agronomists make recommendations or observations while out scouting crops, these get sent to the growers automatically, so they know instantly if something needs to get taken care of. Scott: “The relationship between our agronomists and growers hasn’t changed, it has just gotten a lot stronger and more sophisticated by using Agworld as a platform to communicate on”.
Managing a farm as a business
Grower Luke Adams, who farms in Rupert, ID together with wife Sara and his parents Timm and Barbara, has had a different pathway to farming than most farmers. By joining the civil service for the U.S. Air Force straight out of college and working in Utah, Germany and Colorado, Luke and his wife spent 12 years away from the farm before getting the opportunity to start farming full-time in 2012. Coming from the USAF and working in finance, Luke was very used to making data driven decisions and documenting everything he did: “When you are spending public funds, there is this expectation that you’re doing due diligence. I brought a lot of that mindset home with me, the leadership and followership training that the USAF instilled in me, it helps me a lot on the farm.” With his father Timm having a background in soil science, the team is optimally equipped to tackle a wide variety of issues that arise on their 5,000-acre farm.
Having grown from 500 to 5,000 acres over the last 20 years, there has been a solid focus on productivity, profitability and quality at Timm Adams Farms to ensure smooth everyday operations. Luke explains: “Having data recorded electronically helps us keep track of and execute our plan. This past winter we went through and we laid out our entire 2018 plan for the farm in Agworld, all the way through to harvest. When we got into the heat of battle in spring, we already had this game plan and we were using Agworld to go through and check ourselves. Agworld helped us make sure that we weren’t ever getting behind on where we needed to be on execution. And even during the rest of the season, Agworld enabled us to really keep track of everything that’s happening on the farm at once. We need to make sure that we have all of the data that we need in a timely fashion to be able to make those rapid decisions, because if a week goes by, we may have missed a window to improve the crop.”
Collaborating on the same platform
Providing their growers with a collaborative platform that also satisfies their record keeping needs, was a major consideration for Valley Agronomics when choosing Agworld. Scott Freiburger explains: “Record keeping is becoming more and more critical. The demand from the EPA, state government or worker protection is a concern and something we have to take care of. And that’s the important part that Agworld provides now for us, not only at our level but at the grower level. The growers’ response on their end of it has really been excellent, they realize the true value. Our growers appreciate that our crop advisors sit down with them to plan out next years’s crop production plan in Agworld, which provides them with a clear budget for the season. I think this has helped tie us, as a company, a little closer to our growers."
Luke Adams adds to this: “Because my provider is using the same software, the effort that they put in to help provide recommendations, flows into the same system that I’m using to make decisions so you’re not doing double input. I can take the efforts that my agronomists are putting in and I can tweak and add to it, it’s not like I’m having to create new data.” And most of all, using one collaborative platform has brought speed to the farming process that is needed to compete in the 21st century. Scott: “Things happen a lot faster now than they did 10 years ago, and they need to if we want to be able to compete with quality crops in a world market. With Agworld we have put this element of speed in the decision making process for our growers and things now happen a lot faster and more efficiently.”
"The relationship between our agronomists and growers hasn’t changed, it has just gotten a lot stronger and more sophisticated by using Agworld"
Up until 2015 Valley Agronomics was using legacy software that did not fulfill the needs of the organisation. The agronomy team was not happy with the tools they had, and they did not offer any opportunity for client interaction either.
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