CQ Ag Services were looking for a platform they could use to improve both internal and external communication. They wanted to be able to store their observations and recommendations in such a way that all agronomists and their clients have access.
They decided to adopt Agworld so they could all collaborate on one set of data which is cloud-based and also give their grower clients access to this data and allow them to contribute with their own observations.
The agronomists at CQ Ag services now all have access to every observation or recommendation that has been made by themselves or their colleagues at any time in the past. They are now also forming digital partnerships with their growers, which strengthens their client relationships.
Service is key in Central Queensland
CQ Ag Services has a long history of servicing growers in Central Queensland, with clients based in Emerald and across the major cropping areas of the Central Highlands including Rolleston, Dysart, Capella and Kilcummin. Now, in its 20th year of business and 8th year as a Ruralco Holdings joint venture, CQ Ag Services supplies its clients with a wide range of products and services from seed, fertilizer and crop protection to animal health, rural merchandise and agronomy services.
It is the agronomy services side of CQ Ag Services that has general manager and senior agronomist Darren Young particularly excited: “By providing agronomy services in any shape or form, from planning a complete crop of cotton and checking it twice a week for a grower, to checking for insects in a sorghum field a few times per season, we can really tailor our offering to what growers require. But in all these instances service is key, and this is where Agworld is helping us help our growers. All our agronomists use Agworld and, by using Agworld, our agronomists always have a complete field history, previous observations and any other relevant information at their fingertips. So it doesn’t matter if we have different agronomists visit the same farm or field at different times during the season, as they have all got the critical data available to them. This really helps us with planning our workload as we cover a large geographical footprint.”
Adapting to rapidly changing conditions
The daily operations at CQ Ag evolve around the individual growers’ needs at different times in the season and how they can be best serviced. Seasonality and rapidly changing demands are common in Central Queensland due to soil-moisture availability, irrigation-water availability and many other factors.
Agronomist Cassie Turner has been part of the CQ Ag team since late 2017 and is used to the fast-paced environment that agronomy in Central Queensland can be: “Depending on how the season develops, we could either have time to spare or field visits every day from dawn to dusk without a minute’s rest. And things can change so fast here: it only takes a tropical cyclone to move inland at the right time, and growers can be sowing 100,000’s of acres two weeks later! Whether they sow sorghum, chickpeas, wheat or any other crop; it’s up to us to ensure they know which inputs to use and make sure they have everything they need when they need it.”
“It is because of these varied demands throughout the season that I love using Agworld. If a grower would call me right now wanting to know where he should plant a specific crop that might be sensitive to spray drift or have any other particular needs, I am able to start planning with him on the spot. I don’t need to refer to hand-drawn maps or call other people to find out what the local situation is: all the information I need to make this decision is available in Agworld and I know exactly what I need in order to make the best possible decision.”
“Another tool within Agworld that I really enjoy using is the Satamap SVI layer, which shows the Vegetation Index of our fields. It helps us decide for example where we should go scouting in a specific field and it shows us when there might be particular issues that should be investigated and addressed. Especially once we have a widespread rain event, or some other event that drastically changes local conditions: a new SVI image is usually available every 5 days and the latest image is always at our disposal.
It’s amazing to now have this available within Agworld, so it’s in the same spot as all the rest of the information I need when making recommendations. No need to use different apps or different sources of information; it’s right here where I need it in Agworld.”
Collaborating with growers
CQ Ag are increasingly collaborating more with their growers on the Agworld platform, as well as with colleagues within their own organisation. Darren: “We started using Agworld around three years ago and we’re really still implementing more parts of Agworld now. It takes time to understand the advantages it can bring us and how we can utilise this best.”
Branch operations manager Ross Thomas adds: “I’m quite excited to see all of us use the planning tool within Agworld a lot more. It is my responsibility to make sure that we have enough product available for all our clients but at the same time to not open us up to any risks by having too much stock on hand. Right now, we work a lot with spreadsheets and weekly meetings, but I really like the reports that Agworld is able to produce for us here. Once we start doing 100% of our planning on Agworld, I won’t have to worry about out-of-date spreadsheets or incorrect information that goes undetected anymore. I will be able to go into Agworld and see exactly what our estimated product use will be and drill down to any kind of detail that I might require. I can definitely see the advantages that Agworld will offer us in regard to stock ordering and inventory management!”
Cassie continues: “Being able to plan in Agworld and then automatically having our growers able to access this information is really important to me. No more waiting for emails or calling about what rates need to be used: all the information is available to them instantly. And this works vice-versa as well: now when one of our clients that uses Agworld has a question about a particular spot in a field, they, or any farm staff, can enter an observation in Agworld and next time I’m in that field I can make sure to address the issue and communicate any critical information back to them.”
“And that’s where I see the power of Agworld in a widespread area like ours: it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m looking for, I always have all important information available to me. When it comes to driving Agtech adoption, rather than working with shiny toys that don’t deliver or working with technology that does not offer any benefit to growers, Agworld enables us to drive Agtech adoption in Central Queensland in a way that delivers results to both us and our growers. This data driven collaboration helps us strengthen our long-standing grower relationships into the digital world and at the end of the day, that is what it’s all about for us.”
The Elders agronomy team aims to provide a high-quality service to their clients that helps these growers be as profitable as possible. Elders were looking for a digital platform that enables their agronomists to provide a consistent service where agronomists can collaborate with their growers. Elders also wanted to make sure that any software they implemented would be useful for their clients to adopt as well.
Generating value by using data instead of shiny tools
McGregor Gourlay as an organisation used a legacy digital ag solution for their recommendations but was unable to turn this into an integrated approach across the company. They were at the same time looking for a way to provide more ability to forecast to their merchandise managers through increase visibility.
Improving an agronomist’s efficiency and transparency
In his work as an agronomist, Ruaan Du Plessis realised that higher crop monitoring requirements combined with larger orchard sizes and an increased need for information by growers necessitated a new approach to data accessibility and transparency.