Up until 2016, Lance Funk Farms was using multiple legacy software systems for precision functionality, but none of these systems offered any record keeping ability. In order to organize the farming operation with up to 250 employees in peak season, management had to rely on spreadsheets.
After finding out about Agworld, Director of Agriculture for Lance Funk Farms Todd Kirwan, spoke to his agronomy and inputs supplier Valley Agronomics who were just starting to implement Agworld in their organization. When he realized the advantages that Agworld could offer the farming operation and the synergies that using Agworld in combination with his agronomy service provider would offer them, Todd Kirwan decided to implement Agworld.
By using Agworld, Lance Funk Farms is able to organize itself with much greater ease and Farm Managers are able to answer their own questions about a wide variety of crop management questions instead of constantly having to ask questions to agronomists and others. As a result of capturing and storing their data on the Agworld platform, Lance Funk Farms is a lot more streamlined and able to use aggregated agronomic and crop management data to help make the most profitable decisions.
Managing on a large scale
When talking to one of the USA’s largest suppliers of potatoes, everything becomes superlative. With 36,000 acres of irrigated cropping land in Power County, Idaho, Lance Funk Farms produces anything from potatoes, wheat, sugar beets, and corn to barley and safflower. Over 110 full-time employees, with an additional 150 seasonal employees, are occupied with making sure that every job gets done between the trucking operations and the farm. Acreage wise, wheat is the largest crop whereas financially, potatoes are the biggest contributor, according to Lance Funk Director of Agriculture Todd Kirwan: “We produce anything from mini potatoes and processing potatoes to fresh potatoes and seed potatoes.”
It was the sheer size of the operation, in combination with the variety of crops grown, that drove Todd to explore software solutions that could help better manage the operation and aid with traceability. Todd explains: “We grow 19 different varieties of potatoes alone. Add to that all the other crops we grow, and you soon realize why spreadsheets just don’t cut it anymore for us. Before we adopted Agworld, we would make a standardized spray program and every field kind of got the same inputs applied. Now, by using Agworld, we are able to tailor it field by field, because the farm managers and the sprayer operators all have access to Agworld and can see exactly what should be applied on each individual field.”
‘Because we now have input plans for individual fields, we’re able to be extremely precise with the products we want to apply. This can be either a less expensive product or a different product that actually targets the disease that we’re combatting for example. Between tailoring our sprays to the fields and preventing mistakes from happening, by having operators equipped with the right knowledge, we are definitely saving money. It’s tough to put a dollar figure on this improved accuracy through Agworld for an operation of our size, but I know that it’s definitely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range – that’s for sure.”
Workflow & collaboration
Having over 110 full-time employees in a farming operation, comes with the obvious challenges of managing the daily tasks and ensuring that everyone is collaborating in a way that delivers synergies. For Lance Funk Farms, Todd thinks that the workflow aspect is one of the big advantages that they derive from utilizing the Agworld platform: “The jobs part of Agworld works really well. The way it organizes us from the plans, to recommendations, to work orders and finally actuals, makes a big difference for us. It eliminates a lot of mistakes, wrong rates, wrong seed, etc. Agworld eliminates this from even being a potential problem. Anyone who needs to have access to data for specific fields or certain operations can view this information with one click of a button – that right there makes my life so much easier.”
“Because of Agworld’s collaborative structure, we’re also enabled to cooperate digitally with our partner organizations with ease. I make the plans for our farm on Agworld, as I’m an agronomist myself, and then send the recommendations through to our agronomist with Valley Agronomics, Barry Nelson, who converts those through to work orders and creates the information he needs on his side to ensure we get our products all delivered on-time and at the right place.” Barry adds to his: “It makes a big difference for us at Valley Agronomics to have clients like Lance Funk Farms utilizing the Agworld platform; because all data gets interchanged electronically, there’s a lot less opportunity for mistakes to be made on both sides. Agworld also allows us to make sure we service important clients like Lance Funk Farms to the best of our ability – which is important to support long-standing relationships.”
Using Agworld to mitigate complexity
Whereas some farming operations might focus on specific crops, Lance Funk Farms grows a wide variety of crops, which can make the management of all different aspects of these crops a lot more challenging. Todd elaborates: “Not everything we do is very easy and straightforward like on farms that only grow a few different crops. For example, when it comes to seed potatoes alone we mainly produce G2 and G3, so second and third generation seed, for which we have strict growing requirements in regard to diseases, rotations and crop isolation. We have to make sure that we have no bacterial wilt present, we can only grow seed potatoes in fields in which we haven’t grown potatoes for a minimum of five years and seed potatoes need to be grown at least 20 meters away from any commercial potato crops. This, and other specifications, get checked regularly by inspectors from the certifying authority. We have to keep track of all these, and many other, metrics – which is where Agworld plays a big role.”
“Because we have so many people involved in our operation, we really need a platform that is collaborative and that allows many different people to be a part of the process. The Agworld app is very easy to use, which made adoption by our staff a lot quicker than with anything else we could have adopted. And, most importantly, Agworld packs a lot of information that all our people can take with them into the field.”
Todd concludes with: “I like the recent updates of the Agworld app very much because we can now see some more layers of data, such as planting and harvest, which really helps a lot when we’re doing the scouting in the field every week. We can see exactly what we’ve planted somewhere, what the planting rate was, and how much fertilizer and which chemicals have been applied since. This helps us make the best decision throughout the season. In my opinion, that is what Agworld brings to Lance Funk Farms: the ability to make the best decision in every situation and by every employee, with the end result that we are able to maximize our profitability.”
"It’s tough to put a dollar figure on this improved accuracy through Agworld for an operation of our size, but I know that it’s definitely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range – that’s for sure."
Todd KirwanDirector of Agriculture, Lance Funk Farms, American Falls, ID
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