Vern Johnson and his team were utilizing a legacy digital solution, for their recommendation writing. It took them a lot of time to enter each recommendation into the system and at the end of the day, this cost on average an extra 2 hours. When they decided to improve and expand their service offering to growers by including features such as: budgets and seasonal crop plans, they were unable to do so. This led to the realization that in order to reach their new goals, they would need to choose a different software service provider.
A fellow agronomist, who had already been using Agworld for a number of years, recommended that Vern try Agworld. After both Vern and colleague Tye Housley began using Agworld, they realised it would deliver the tools and time savings they needed and decided to switch to Agworld.
Vern and his team now save a number of hours each day as they simply convert Agworld plans into recommendations. In the past, they had to create recommendations from scratch for every field. Because Arizona Agricultural Solutions uses Agworld, they have freed up time on administrative tasks, and are now able to offer crop planning and budgeting services to their clients.
Arizona Agricultural Solutions
Crops:Pecans, pistachios, corn, alfalfa, sorghum
Starting an Agronomic Advisory business
Some people find their passion for agriculture at a young age, and Vern Johnson is one of those people. After working for a local farmer from age 14, Vern obtained a BA in political science with a minor in agriculture from The University of Arizona. Torn between a career path in law and agriculture - Vern first worked for a local school as an Ag Ed instructor and later as sales representative for local ag retailer, Fertizona. These experiences confirmed Vern's passion for agriculture and he obtained both his CCA and PCA licenses.
In 2017, Vern decided to start Arizona Agricultural Solutions, an agronomic consultancy business, focused on both pest control and crop nutrition, says Vern: “I remained an authorized sales agent for Fertizona after I started my own business, but now I am completely independent. Although, I still recommend Fertizona's products to many of my clients. When I first started Arizona Agricultural Solutions I was using my legacy data platform to write all of my agronomic recommendations, because that is what was most familiar to me - and what I had used in my previous position. However, I quickly found that in order to differentiate my business and fulfil the needs of my clients with a complete agronomic service offering, I needed to find a better software solution to support my efforts.”
Vern continues: “As a specialized agronomic consultancy business, it's not enough to just provide recommendations to growers during the season, they require a more holistic approach that helps them use their records to plan and budget their whole cropping regime. We needed a different digital platform to power our business, as we were struggling to do this all in an integrated way without having to double-enter our data. I happened to speak to an agronomic consultant from California who had been using Agworld for a number of years already at this time, and he recommended that I try Agworld.”
Saving time and improving the service offering
Vern and colleague Tye Housley trialled Agworld, and soon realized that making the switch to the Agworld platform made sense for them, explains Vern: “We're a relatively small business but we're trying to take on as many acres as possible to allow us to grow, which means that we have to be as efficient as possible with our time. In the old system there is no way to turn a planned activity into a recommendation, which meant that I had to write over 30 recommendations per day. With one recommendation taking around 3 to 4 minutes, and having to write one for each bit of fertilizer or crop protection that gets applied, it's easy to see how much of a time waste this was.”
Vern: “I really like Agworld's workflow as it starts the season by creating a plan for each grower. This allows me to create a good program for each client with indicative pricing included, and the beautiful part of it is that the plan is interactive! When I come in at the end of a long day of scouting crops, all I have to do is 'point and click' to create recommendations from my plan. This means that the bulk of my recommendation writing is taken care of before the season has even started, which saves me a couple of hours each day."
Tye comments: “The usability differences from what we used to Agworld are night and day, especially the ease of setting up budgets for customers and setting up templates. I just wrote 10 recommendations and it's so quick, because I have the templates already pre-written and all I have to do is add some details and send them out - that would have taken me all day previously. Because of the speed alone, I don't see how someone in my or Vern's position wouldn't chomp at the bit and switch to Agworld.”
Vern adds: “A digital platform should really make your life easier and help you provide a better service to your clients. Our old platform did this for me for a while, and it helped me get to where we are today, but for our business it was time to take the next step in our digital journey, and Agworld was that next step. The way I see it, creating digital plans is indispensable for agronomic advisors, and having a sophisticated tool at your disposal makes it much easier to achieve exceptional results.”
Agronomy in the High Desert
Arizona Agricultural Solutions services a number of different crops both inside as well as outside of Arizona: from corn, alfalfa for hay, and forage sorghum to pecans and pistachios. Vern: “Most of our clients are based in Arizona and my expertise is in growing crops in the High Desert, which is at a significantly higher elevation than other parts of Arizona - starting from 3,500 feet to above 5,000 feet. Things are done a bit differently in the High Desert, which is why we also work on some projects outside of Arizona. This includes areas of New Mexico and Mexico that have similar climatic conditions.”
Vern continues: “It's interesting working with the same crops but in a different state and a different country - the little differences keep us on our toes and learning each day. For us, this is where Agworld really shows its value as a diversified agronomic services provider: we are easily able to see the history of exactly what we've done in a field and know what the results were. With our own knowledge we can then work out how that translates to a new area, and quickly create our plans in Agworld. Everything in Agworld is quick and easy for us, which makes a difference when you're scouting an orchard in Mexico today and in New Mexico tomorrow. With the efficiencies I gain through Agworld, I am now able to spend my precious time at home with my wife instead of in front of my computer!”
Avi Kwa Ame is a large-scale farming operation on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation, producing large quantities of hay and other commodities each year. In order to accurately keep track of the inputs they apply, create up-to-date maps, create 1080 forms (a mandatory form to be submitted to the Federal Department of Ag for pesticide applications) and schedule harvest, they needed to move from an old proprietary system to a new and sophisticated system.
Oxbow Agriculture used to keep track of their farming activities through written field records - relying on everyone involved in the farming process to write things down in a variety of different formats. The challenges that came with written records included: no visibility in historic records across the organization, hard to use field records for anything other than 'having them on record just in case', difficulty communicating exact work orders across the organization or to contractors and record-keeping that was labor-intensive and prone to errors.
Ryan Moore is principal and owner of M&M Ag Consulting - an ag data consultancy firm based in Arkansas. Ryan assists growers with the collection of all their field-level data and helps them turn this data into tangible changes to their farm management practices. In order to do this efficiently, Ryan needed to adopt the right digital tools that work for both himself, as well as his grower clients.