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Start-up spotlight: RealmFive
Depending on where Clark McPheeters is working on his southern Nebraska farm, connectivity can be spotty. The lack of reliability is also one of his biggest obstacles in moving critical information to the cloud.
“Data used to be trapped on our monitors, and we couldn’t take it anywhere else digitally,” says McPheeters, who grows corn and soybeans.
RealmFive is trying to solve this problem with drop-in networks that measure and transmit data from a number of sensors, aggregating that data in the cloud, and empowering more informed decisions.
“We are working to provide hardware, software, and automation solutions at prices that enable scalable use across the agriculture industry,” says Craig Burnside, business relations manager for RealmFive. “We want to make devices simple to install and use, reliable in providing correct data, and scalable so data sources can grow with you.”
While RealmFive has a host of tools for farmers to use, the Connectivity Platform is central to its success in bringing wireless technology to farmers.
“Our Connectivity Platform acts as a cost-effective data collection system that works across the farm,” Burnside says. “Farmers can choose which sensors to connect and what to do with their data.”
This system is agnostic, allowing farmers to connect their data to third-party platforms of their choice. It is also designed to withstand the tough ag environment.
The Core, the Cloud, and the Click
The Connectivity Platform is made up of three major components – R5 Core, R5 Cloud, and R5 Click.
“R5 Core allows us to create a network with multiple modular wireless technologies,” Burnside explains. “The data is then collected into our secure R5 Cloud, where it is stored. That data can be accessed via R5 Click or to a third-party application.”
The RealmFive lineup includes devices for connectivity, as well as monitoring soil moisture, equipment, and weather. Most of these products can be installed with few or no tools. The only piece of equipment a farmer must have prior to installation is a computer or smart device to access data.
“We tested RealmFive soil moisture probes, and I was impressed. They are shorter, which makes it easier to get machinery over them. Because they didn’t have to have a taller tower to get a signal, they also connected easier,” McPheeters says.
R5 Click offers a valuable asset to farmers who are new to RealmFive. “A feature in our web portal includes a device health dashboard. This allows for our distributors to notice a problem device even before the farmer does,” Burnside says.
Like any purchase, price is a concern for farmers when investing in tech. Depending on a dealer’s business model, farmers have multiple options for purchasing RealmFive technologies.
“Some dealers offer a lease model and provide a connectivity and data service,” Burnside says. “Other dealers resell RealmFive hardware and provide an annual service.”
Customers pay an annual platform fee, which includes minimal data connectivity costs, access to R5 Click, and customer service. “Many distributors are folding the technology into services they already offer,” Burnside says.
Now that McPheeters has started installing RealmFive technology on his farm, he says it will be much easier to expand services in the future.
“It will be really simple to add more sensors that will all report their data within the same interface. A lot of my data is combined, which makes it easy for me,” McPheeters says.