As I’m writing this, the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly getting out of control in many parts of the world. Across the USA, a number of lockdown measures have been enacted, which means in a lot of cases that only those in professions deemed critical are still able to perform their job. Agriculture is an industry that, around the world, has been deemed critical and so our work has to continue, but how? And how do we make sure that everyone can do their job without creating additional risks for people or the businesses they work for?
One of the big risks, as identified by governments and health authorities around the world, is being in close proximity to other people and touching surfaces previously touched by others. Physically staying at least 2 meters away from other people seems feasible, but how often per day do you touch something that somebody else will have touched before you or will touch after you?
One of the concerns I have seen raised many times over the last week is that of ‘paper’; who hasn’t exchanged a recommendation, invoice or purchase order with someone recently? And did you give any thought to the fact that viruses, like COVID-19, can survive for up to 24 hours on porous surfaces like paper?
We’ve had companies contact us this week who have become acutely aware of the risk that ‘sharing paper between people’ brings to the health of their employees and continuity of their business, while others merely seek to mitigate a potential risk posed by not working digitally. In the end, asking these questions all comes down to one thing: do you have to surrender the quality of your work or the integrity of the business you conduct by changing the way you perform your daily duties?
We’re very fortunate at Agworld that our product is built for the digital world, where there is no need to physically exchange any items between two parties. When we created Agworld in 2009 our vision was to enable agronomists and growers to operate remotely and independently while working from the same structured dataset that creates visibility and aligns the workflow. While ‘going digital’ has been a trend in Ag for a number of years, never has it been as critical as it is now.
Even simple things, such as a grower sharing the cab of a ute with an agronomist to find a specific spot in a field, are now on hold due to the lockdown restrictions and these tasks have to be replaced by other means. We heard from our clients in recent weeks how the GPS functionality on Agworld’s mapping page really makes life easy at the moment for everyone involved and prevents potential issues.
I have taken many calls this week from agronomists and growers, who have worked with us for many years, who just wanted to touch base and check on our wellbeing; I can’t tell you how much this means to me. They all told me however, that because they use Agworld, they have been able to minimize the physical contact with other people or objects in their daily routine without compromising the service level (agronomists) or quality and integrity of farm data (growers) and normalize the way they work as much as possible. Sure, we didn’t know that COVID-19 would happen, but we always knew that the remote sharing aspect was a strength of Agworld, and I’m happy that we’re able to make a difference this way in these difficult times for everyone.
We all know how important a solid workflow is, where data flows in a structured way and is accessible to everyone involved; through our platform, we’re able to offer this and negate the need to use a mix of phone calls, texts and other forms of communication for our clients, which don’t leave you with data to report on! Even when growers and agronomists need to physically distance themselves, they are still able to share observations, recommendations and actuals and keep them as part of the regular workflow and data structure to analyse later - which is extremely high value to all involved.
Of course, going ‘paperless’ has been a discussion over the last 10 years for many people, but I don’t think there’s been a bigger motivator than we’re seeing today. As always, we’re working with our clients to make this happen.
While we all do our best; if you’re in a senior business role, then you know that minimizing risks to staff (duty of care etc) and business (legal) are key when we come out of events like this, so if you feel there’s anything we can do to help you make the move to a touch-free farm data system, get in touch. I or anyone on our team will be more than happy to work through your specific set of challenges with you and help you out where we can.
For more information about the workflow within Agworld, see video below: