Farmobile LLC, an independent agricultural data company based in Leawood, Kan., has launched the Farmobile Index, a crop progress and benchmarking tool to give farmers a daily view into aggregate, state-level crop progress reports well ahead of the weekly USDA-NASS survey estimates. That gives Farmobile Index users to use daily estimates of crop progress to facilitate marketing decisions.
Farmobile CEO Jason Tatge, who has a background in commodity marketing, says he got the idea of the tool before attending last year’s Pro Farmer Crop Tour, during which participants visit random fields to measure progress and estimate yields in soybean and corn fields in much the same way the Wheat Quality Tour samples wheat fields.
“Last year was a really tough year because of all the cold weather and flooding which meant that there was a lot of replanting,” Tatge says. “There was a lot of tension in the air when the representatives from USDA started to speak because there was a sense that the agency was using very outdated methods for survey collection. A lot of planting numbers were being doubled up because of replanting of washed-out fields. I thought there should be a more technology-based way to collect that data.”
Tatge developed an index that can be updated daily with machine-generated data collected by the Farmobile PUC device.
“My goal in 2014 was to create a device that could collect data from any brand of machinery,” he says. “It was so difficult for farmers who were attempting to mix data from different brands of machinery that many of them were just forgoing the data collection.
“From the time I started the company until 2018, we worked to figure out how we could build a device that did everything we wanted it to do.”
The Farmobile PUC device collects second-by-second agronomic and machine data from farm equipment and sends it cellularly to the company’s cloud-based DataEngine platform released in 2018. There, it is organized into Electronic Field Records, digital files based on field boundaries. These field files tell a farmer what was planted, the seeding rate, any applications of herbicides or fertilizer, and at harvest provide a complete picture of what gave the best yields.
“Anyone with a data subscription can view the Farmobile Index, which shows aggregated, state-level, total acres as they are planted by Farmmobile users — predominately in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota,” Tatge says. “When a farmer logs on to his Farmobile Index, he should be able to see what is happening around those states and have a good idea what the progress of the crop is in real time. The idea is to pool data to help users make better decisions.”
In addition to the index, he says the data collected by the Farmobile PUC device helps farmers see which practices or inputs are providing the best results.
“You can identify which crop protection products are the most effective and learn how timing of application on different varieties affects outcomes,” he says. “In the end, it’s all about preventing yield loss. When you know what works on which crop and in which field, you can be more confident in the decisions you make for seed, crop protection and fertility.”
Tatge says that while the device does not gather weather data, there are many apps that do provide local weather information.
“Basically, you just call up one of those apps, take a screenshot and tag it to the electronic field record from Farmobile,” he says.
A Farmobile subscription costs $1250 per year.
Tatge says the privacy and security of farmers’ data is paramount to Farmobile. Only data totals aggregated at the state level are used for Farmobile Index insights. No identifiable farm data or individual Electronic Field Record files is shared. Users’ control over their data is strictly protected.