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Farmers Edge R&D Roadmap A Digital Disruption

Since 2014, Farmers Edge has invested in digitizing farms by automatically collecting, integrating, and processing data from multiple sources into one platform. Today, it processes over 50,000 fields daily and analyzes over 11 billion data records. The unbiased insights the company provides help growers base their farm management decisions on data, rather than marketing campaigns, traditional practices, or gut instincts. 

As the Canadian company plans for the future, it is releasing a comprehensive R&D roadmap outlining its product enhancement and innovation plans through 2019. The plan includes an expanded digital agronomy product team, who will leverage the advancements in data analytics and machine learning, to extract value from data and develop innovative tools that help growers and ag professionals overcome obstacles on the farm. Its goal is to release over 90 additional digital agronomic tools that will further enable data-driven decision making and support high-yield crop production. 

“The ability to gather and integrate detailed information from growers’ fields, coupled with advances in weather forecasting, rapid processing, predictive modeling, and machine learning, is changing farming from a business that often reacts to the past to one that uses data to support decisions for the seasons ahead,” says Wade Barnes, president & CEO of Farmers Edge. “It’s about accuracy, efficiency, productivity, and ease of use.”

Highlights from the R&D pipeline

Building on its FarmCommand platform, which is a fully integrated system that consolidates all crop, weather, equipment, soil, and other agronomic data into one place, Farmers Edge wants this roadmap to serve as a blueprint for how the industry can begin to utilize digital tools and transition from precision agriculture to decision agriculture. This platform will serve as the foundation for a wide variety of new decision-support solutions and services it plans to release this year. Below are a few of the highlights.
FarmCommand Mobile App. This integrated farm-management application features field-centric weather, unique map layers, record keeping, scouting tools, and instant job data.

Crop Health Change Alerts. Farmers Edge is developing crop health change notifications, a first of its kind, to help growers react to crop stress as it emerges. Processing imagery within 48 hours into three unique maps, growers will automatically be notified if a change in crop health has occurred.

Gen. 2 CanPlug. This piece of hardware is an enhanced in-field telematics and data transfer device, which enables live harvest and profit data tracking. It also provides faster data transfer and automatic mapping of cellular network connectivity. 

Rapid Data Processing Engine. With a focus on providing insights faster, Farmers Edge introduced a Rapid Data Processing Engine. It is capable of daily and on-demand processing of field-centric imagery, equipment, application, and harvest data. 

Harvest Manager. Launching in fall 2018, users will be able to track grain live. This includes storage management, contract creation, field-pass cost accumulation, and live revenue calculation. 

Profits On-The-Go. Before long, the FarmCommand app will have the ability to factor in variable costs to measure real-time profit analysis during harvest. Incorporating commodity prices, input and product costs, labor, and other operational fees with live yield data, growers will be able to visualize their results and measure their profits from the seat of their tractor or combine. 

Treatment Analysis. With the release of ROI analysis for treatment areas, growers will have the ability to compare treatments across a single field and measure the outcome of each application decision. 

Insurance Products. By partnering with PartnerRE earlier this year, Farmers Edge is working to develop data-driven insurance products that will improve the efficiency and sustainability of growers’ operations and will enable them to obtain insurance, customized to their individual needs and parameters. 

eScout. Featuring GPS, a comprehensive database of pests, an agronomic calculator, and now daily satellite imagery, eScout provides tools to help ag professionals monitor and address field conditions, create real-time reports, and manage scouting activities from one platform.

Inventory Management. This feature will help growers plan for the season, prepare for each field operation, and better control stock requirements.

Advanced Equipment Reporting. This tool allows growers to analyze the performance of equipment – no matter the make or model – in a consistent format. It provides comparative equipment information on both individual and aggregated levels to support operational and future purchase decisions. 

Advanced Variety Benchmarking. Integrating data from tens of thousands of fields, growers can measure the relative yield of hybrids based on regional (60 to 480 miles) or site-specific performance to support seed selection. Variety benchmarking reports also enable more rapid and lower-risk testing of new technologies and offer opportunities for on-farm benchmarking against past performance, or from one field to another.

Growth Stage Modeling. A new feature in 2018, growers will be able to access growth stage modeling across a variety of crops including corn, wheat, canola, barley, oats, peas, soybeans, cotton, winter wheat, lentils, sugar cane, sugar beets, potatoes, chickpeas, and flax. Visually identifying the current and predicted stage of the crop, the models are purposed to help growers apply products at the right time to maximize effectiveness and minimize the risk of crop damage. 

Pest Prediction. Pest models are being released to notify growers of specific disease and insect risks in their fields, including fusarium head blight, wheat midge, sclerotinia, soybean aphid, corn grey leaf spot, and northern leaf blight. Instant notifications, which are powered by regional weather patterns and crop-stage information, help growers take proactive steps to protect yield and prevent further pest outbreaks.

Enhanced Yield Prediction Tool. This model accurately predicts zone-based yields to help growers plan for harvest and take a more informed position in the market place. As an essential component of their nitrogen modeling tool, enhanced yield prediction also helps growers successfully optimize fertilizer applications at the right rate, time, and place to reach targeted yield goals. 

“This year, Farmers Edge is forecast to expand our data collection network to encompass over 8,500 weather stations and 25,000 telematics devices across 33 million paid product acres,” says Barnes. “That growth fuels the development of more tools to let growers experience the value of their farm data and show them how it can be used to save time, stay organized, and make more money. This isn’t just the beginning of decision agriculture, this is a digital disruption.”

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