The future of farming will be driven not just by automated machines, but by better understanding how to combine digital hardware and software in smarter and ever more efficient ways. This is where digital farming and technology like Bayer’s Climate platform comes into play.
Developed and delivered by The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Bayer, helps farmers gain a deeper understanding of their fields year-round with tools that allow them to easily collect and store data, optimize management decisions quickly and efficiently, and help reach their yield potential while minimizing application of crop inputs.
Many growers in Nuseed’s Omega-3 canola program use the platform, which makes field data management easy. Growers can gather, store and see field data in real time in one simple-to-use digital platform that a grower can take advantage of from the field, office, or anywhere else.
“For us, this platform is about giving growers the opportunity to collect what we call machine-generated data. They gather data from seeding to spraying through to harvest to ultimately be able to compile it and use it to perform analysis on the back end in terms of looking at variety performance, or the performance of certain seed treatments, and many other things,” says Clements, Regional Manager for The Climate Corporation based in Edmonton, Alta.
Bayer is regularly adding new data layers to feed its global R&D engine and enables the development of new features for farmers through the platform. With fertility prescriptions in , canola farmers and their agronomic partners can work together to sustainably optimize productivity through improved timing and rates of nutrient inputs.
Such software platforms add a whole new dimension to how growers are able to go about the business of farming. Technologies like those provided by Hummingbird allow growers access to data they’ve never been able to make use of before.
Hummingbird is an artificial intelligence business that provides advanced crop analytics to its customers by using proprietary machine learning algorithms applied to remote sensing captured imagery. Through its web and mobile platform, the company makes crop-specific analyses and application maps available to customers within 24 hours.
“Instead of having multiple agronomists running around expending resources such as farmers’ time, we can use technology such as what Hummingbird provides that uses GPS coordinates — every three to five days the satellite goes over a field and you get an image of the progression of a crop,” says Roger Rotariu, North American Marketing Lead for .
Improved Decision Making
According to Darryl Matthews, Senior Vice President Natural Resources for Trimble and a former member of the Nufarm family, digital technologies like the ones provided by the precision agriculture company allow growers to essentially have a full-time “agronomist” on hand 24/7 to help them in their seed purchasing decisions.
“Aligning the variety with the average environmental conditions for where a particular field is located is another major challenge the grower faces. After that, there’s aligning the best variety for conditions that a field won’t particularly see in a given year. If you align those very close, that’s where you can see significant benefits,” he says.
“That can be attained through looking at the variety and the type of growing conditions it performs the best in. You then take your typical average heat units, or accumulated heat units, and growing conditions and moisture that a particular field receives in an annual year on average, and then aligning those two to ensure that you pick the best variety for that field. That’s where you can get the ultimate performance.”
Trimble Agriculture’s family of Android displays helps farmers complete field applications quickly and efficiently while also mapping and monitoring field information in real time.
“Digital agriculture is now taking all of those attributes that affect the field — the weather, the variety, the nutrition, and the crop protection solutions the grower chooses — and tying that all together into one. I believe that the next revolution in agriculture is going to come on the digital side. Growers have access to the best genetics. How can they use digital technology to realize the full potential of those genetics?” Matthews adds.
What to do with the Data?
Platforms like , Hummingbird and Trimble use data to provide valuable information to the farmer. What makes platforms like these so handy is they allow growers to harness the power of data, which is something that can often be difficult to do.
That’s where a company like IN10T (pronounced “intent”) comes in.
A U.S.-based digital ag company, IN10T helps accelerate adoption of new technology, says the company’s Canadian Vice-President Patrick Comte.
“One of the biggest pain points that our clients will have is trying to capture all the digital data that’s available. There are so many different platforms and different pieces of new technology that are available, but actually capturing that data and making sense of it and doing the analytics is always the tough part,” Comte says.
Through the IN10T network, clients can tap into a network of over 1,500 farmers who desire to test and learn about cutting-edge technologies and solutions. This valuable network accelerates the product development process by getting it in the hands of their target customers in real-world scenarios earlier in the product lifecycle.
“We just recently expanded into Canada, and as we establish that market and pick up new clients, a lot of that work will be focused on crops like canola and sunflower, to name just two. And one of the biggest challenges that clients have is knowing what to do with all the data they have access to. We capture it, contextualize it, and provide the desired analytics,” Comte says.
“Although harnessing digital data is extremely important when developing new innovations, it’s still important to capture the grower experience as they are trialing new technology. We match digital data with grower perceptions and real-life experience in field scale trials to help tell the story.”
It’s almost overwhelming for people to try to make sense of so much information, says Nuseed’s Rotariu. Every client is different, and the data they need is different, and it really depends on the product they are using.
What are they trying to accomplish? What is the end result they’re looking for? And how do they know what data is going to be used to help get them to that point?
That’s the game changer, says Rotariu — the ability to narrow things down for the grower.
“All this data we now have can be pretty overwhelming at first. That’s where you really find success — figuring out what to do with it all. The good news growers are able to do that more and more each day.”