For growers that are looking at options for moving away from pen and paper or spreadsheets for their farm data entry and storage, it is natural to start with a potential benefits analysis: if I join a farm data ecosystem, what are the benefits this will bring to me? Some benefits can be quantified, others merely qualified, but in the end the benefits have to outweigh the costs (in time, subscription fees, etc.) for an ‘investment thesis’ to stand up and lead to a purchase decision - similar to any on-farm purchase.
“Making field data accessible allows growers to be prepared”
Every now and then however, we receive feedback from one of our customers about how having all farm data stored in the Agworld ecosystem has helped them during exceptional circumstances. Whether someone’s work vehicle got stolen with everything inside it or part of the farm burns down, being able to reinstall Agworld on a new device and simply download all your farm data from the cloud is very powerful. Recently I spoke with an Agworld user, Dan Droessler, Berntsen Farms, La-Harpe, KS, who shared a very personal experience with me and, with Dan’s permission, I would like to share this story with you to illustrate how Agworld can be of assistance in a situation that I hope will never occur in your life.
Dan works as operations manager in telecommunications in Girard, KS, and in his spare time assists his family-in-law with their farming activities at La-Harpe, KS. The Berntsen family crops around 1,300 acres of soybeans, corn and milo, as well as running a herd of around 280 breeding cows. Dan has helped the Berntsen family with their technology adoption, among many other things, for a long time - even putting up a 200ft tower with a 900mhz omni-direction antenna with geodesic dome for RF broadcast to act as RTK base station over 12 years ago!
Last season the Berntsen family noticed that their yields were not as high as some of the area-averages, and decided to start investigating options for improvement. Together with Iola, KS, based agronomist Levi Davis with Mid-West Fertilizer, Dan and the Berntsen family started to take a harder look at the soil aspect of growing their crops and how the soil could be improved. Levi already used Agworld for all his planning, recommendations and soil sampling, and suggested the Berntsen family adopt Agworld for the farm as well. This allows the Berntsens to take care of their own soil sampling and gather as much data as possible while also being able to seamlessly share this data with Levi and his colleagues at Mid-West Fertilizer.
This year, Dan’s wife Marlene did most of the soil sampling and used Agworld on the iPad to set the grids and record the samples, which has allowed Levi to create accurate fertilizer prescriptions - helping the family to improve their corn and soybean yields compared to last year. It was during one of the pre-plant dry fertilizer applications that disaster struck for the Berntsen family. Dan: “While they were putting down dry fertilizer and then discing up that ground to get it ready for sowing sorghum sudangrass, my nephew Michael suffered a farming accident and perished at only 35 years of age.”
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“The entire family was naturally in shock and the farm was the last thing on our minds at that time, but there was still farm work to be done that couldn’t wait. Iola is a small town however, and word travels fast. I had over 15 calls of people reaching out to me with support before I had even reached the farm to do the work. Levi with Mid-West Fertilizer was one of the people that reached out and I mentioned to him that I was on my way to pick up a dry fertilizer rig from his facility.”
“As soon as I got to Mid-West Fertilizer however, Levi said: “Just give me the list of fields that you need taken care of, because all the data of what needs to be done is already in Agworld. You go home to be with your family, and we’ll come out to your farm and take care of this for you.” Dan continues: “I think that by the end of the day all 100 acres were already done and their spreader operator had gone home.”
Dan concludes: “Because we had all the data in Agworld, all I had to do was give Levi the fields that needed to be fertilized, and he could immediately create the work orders from there. Having our data available on the same platform that our agronomist uses, made this process a lot easier than it otherwise would have been. Although this is not a situation that anyone could have foreseen, and I hope that nobody will ever have to live through the same, it did make me realize how important it is to have our field data accessible at all times. You never know what’s around the corner, but being prepared for the unforeseeable is one of those unquantifiable positive factors.”