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Farming From Afar With Cropio

Satellite field-management system monitors crops remotely for more efficient planning.

Monitoring and managing thousands of acres can be a challenge. Now, imagine doing that on ground more than 5,600 miles away. 

“I grow corn, soybeans, potatoes, wheat, flax, and peas in Russia, the Philippines, and in Ghana, Africa,” says Shane Peed, who lives in Fort Dodge, Iowa. “I was tracking production and equipment in 60 to 80 fields using an Excel spreadsheet, but it wasn’t efficient from afar.”

As if distance isn’t challenge enough, ensuring clear communication among foreign-speaking labor was also a hurdle. “It was important to have the ability for both Russians and Americans to use the same system,” he says.

FOCUS ON SPECIFIC FEATURES

Searching for years to find a system that would translate easily to languages other than English and would not be cost-prohibitive, Peed discovered Cropio in 2015. The satellite management system, which provides real-time updates on current field and crop conditions, met all of his criteria.

“Cropio converts to both languages very easily,” says Peed. “The company also adds features that are important to both American and international agronomy.”

Averaging less than $1 per acre, the price also offered a competitive advantage. “Many of the platforms I looked at did not align with my budget,” Peed says. “Price will be important as I continue to add more acres and equipment.”

To date, the system tracks around 17,000 acres in Russia and another 400 in Ghana. “By the end of next year, I expect to have around 200,000 acres on the Cropio system,” he says.

Another benefit to the system is what it didn’t include. While many of the other platforms he looked at included accounting, it wasn’t a priority for Peed.

“I wanted a system that was focused on production,” he says. “With Cropio, I know exactly what’s going on in my fields. The information is right there on my phone, so I can quickly and easily look up a field or a machine to find out what needs to be done.”

With nearly 15 tractors and a variety of implements, Cropio’s telematics also let him know the location of a piece of equipment at any given time. “Because I have a limited number of machines, tractors have to be moved from region to region frequently,” Peed says.

Machines are logged into the system and scheduled out for an entire year, so he knows exactly where equipment is running and the job it is supposed to be doing. “I also am able to monitor the movement of vehicles like trucks,” he notes.

The machines are tracked as they move from region to region or across a field. The system enables Peed to create a detailed report of a field’s history, including weekly and monthly reports of soil analysis, seeding rates and dates, crop protection, fertilizers, and crop characteristics. Those reports allow Peed to make more educated decisions on fields for the coming season.

“Every time a machine goes over a field, the information is uploaded to the Cropio website where it is stored. That data can then help me better understand what went on in any given field over time,” he says. “Rather than trying to remember what happened in a particular field or inputting data in Excel later, I can now go through its previous history in a snap.”

Because Peed uses a variety of brands, integrating other systems is fairly seamless. “Maps from Ag Leader can be uploaded to Cropio, so I have exact details of what’s going on in each field,” he says.

Cropio also tracks meteorological data that provides air and soil temperatures, precipitation amounts, soil moisture readings, and a weather forecast.

“I have weather stations based in each region I farm,” says Peed. “In Ghana, it proved to be very useful because it gave me a historical snapshot of rainfall. I studied the history of average rainfall on exact days and times. Based on that information, I realized I shouldn’t have been growing that crop at that time.”

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