Challenges in agriculture today are a story of convergence. Trade headwinds, high input expenses and low commodity prices have combined to create a volatile, hard-to-win market. But there’s one area where convergence is having a powerful and profitable impact: technology.
More specifically, this area of promise is being found at the intersection of agriculture and financial technology. In an era where the phrase “big data” has been used so often that it has almost lost meaning, two companies have come together to help farmers make sense of it all.
Last December, Rabo AgriFinance and Conservis announced a partnership to help evolve how farms use ag data to make informed business decisions. The companies are co-developing technology that makes it possible for U.S. crop farmers to seamlessly, and nearly effortlessly, connect their real-time field and management data with financial results.
The expertise each company brings to the workbench is powerful. Rabo AgriFinance is a U.S. subsidiary of Rabobank, the world’s largest food and ag lender. Conservis is a leading independent farm management service — considered a “sage” in the category of ag technology.
Connect crop data to financial data
Through the Conservis platform, farmers and farm managers have the tools to make better decisions sooner and more easily communicate with their lender and business partners about changes throughout the year.
“Razor-thin margin for error requires laser-focused attention,” says Pat Christie, founder of Conservis. “We’re helping farmers find additional value hidden in their farming operation, which can add up to significant dollars across an organization and throughout a season.”
Many farmers are already connecting agronomic data to financials, says Christie, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. The partnership between Conservis and Rabo AgriFinance goes further to synchronize the entire farm operating system.
By connecting all the dots — from weather data to inventory and purchase orders to labor costs — farmers have ability to better organize their operations and make decisions based on the realities of their farm.
Having the right tech tool also gives farmers an opportunity to take a more proactive approach to managing their finances, says Robert Lubben, executive vice president and senior program manager at Rabo AgriFinance.
“Often we see farm budgeting and forecasting being done as a reflective process, with farmers needing to take a rearview mirror approach without the right tools,” he says. “But with real-time insights, farmers can make adjustments and solve problems in season. Often, this leads to money saved at the end of the year.”
Looking ahead instead of behind
Conservis and Rabo AgriFinance share a common type of customer, farmers with a mindset focused on the future, Christie says. They’re striving to constantly improve and to innovate, often taking an honest look at the challenges facing their farming operations. That self-evaluation can lead to some big outcomes.
“For example, with $8 corn, there’s a lot of room to potentially mask a problem,” Christie says. “With sub-$4 corn, any inefficiency becomes that much more important to solve, and the result of finding a solution gets that much more impactful.”
Beyond better operational management, farmers using this service have the ability to generate lender-ready, up-to-date reports they can easily share with any lender. “It’s important to note that with the independent Conservis platform, farmers own their data and control if and when to share with lenders and business partners,” adds Dan Horras, who farms with Dave Horras near Brighton in southeast Iowa.
In the future, Conservis and Rabo AgriFinance plan on continuing to advance features their clients need to help improve decision-making and profitability, Christie says. For updates and information, visit conservis.ag.