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February 21, 2020
Free is becoming a more common price tag in the digital economy, not just for the average consumer, but for farmers too. Whether a company is offering a free service temporarily to grow a customer base, like HitchPin, or it’s offering a limited version of its premium software, like Granular, farmers have options.
They can even tap into services like Indigo Ag’s Marketplace and Carbon, where farmers aren’t the customer and every listing is free because the end buyer pays.
Here are six free software solutions available for farmers:
HitchPin. The HitchPin app and website allow farmers to list a service for sale, such as baling, planting or harvesting. Farmers can list hay to sell, too, and will soon be able to list more services, like earthmoving. HitchPin is free to use for the rest of 2020 with the code FARMPROGRESS.
HitchPin is moving toward monetizing transactions, and taking a small percentage in a 50-50 split fee between buyer and seller. Register online at hitchpin.com.
The site can remove and cause payments to be returned if, for example, someone’s dry round bales don’t meet the advertised quality on delivery.
The site’s founders are planning a rating system where customers can review the people they buy services from. This is a feature they’ll continue to work on as they grow their customer base around the country. Their highest concentration of listings are in and around Kansas — an area CEO Trevor McKeeman picked deliberately when starting out because of the area’s diverse crops.
“When we add cotton services, a producer will be able to experiment with planting 80 acres without having to buy a $750,000 machine,” McKeeman says, noting a 20% to 30% growth in new listings monthly.
Through the map interface of the HitchPin app, farmers can pin their farms, drawing borders where acreage is then autocalculated with a NASA-sourced algorithm. Searches for services near a farm can be refined by delivery preferences and more.
Granular Insights. Granular Insights allows farmers to blend machine data with financials for free, though premium versions of the software exist, like Insights Directed Scouting. While you can look at fields in the free version of Insights with Google Maps, the premium scouting version has heat maps and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index imagery.
Field data pulled from John Deere Operations Center and revenue data can still be shared with advisers in the free version on a field-by-field basis.
“Part of the idea behind a ‘freemium’ product for us is to bring them a lot of value for free. And we believe that if you provide that value, they’ll bring the data, and then they’ll eventually mature along,” says Ben Gordon, product and business development at Granular.
The free product offers unique features, such as a return-on-seed heat map that evaluates hybrid performance. Find out more at granular.ag/granular-insights.
Farm Dog. The scouting app Farm Dog allows farmers an unlimited number of acres to scout. They can take pictures with their phone and geotag afflicted areas, which then allows them to share as needed with advisers and sprayers.
Imagery is not included in the free version of Farm Dog, but field history is included, and hot spots of low yield in the past can be targeted. The app includes a pesticide label lookup to use as a reference as well.
The professional version, which includes NDVI imagery and more, starts at $45 per user per month. Find out more at farmdog.ag.
Indigo Ag Marketplace and Carbon. Indigo Ag offers two free options to farmers. One is Marketplace, a central platform for linking buyers with sellers and truck drivers. Farmers register through indigoag.com/indigo-marketplace. They’re sent an envelope to send a sample of their grain to a third-party testing facility, and after results are taken, farmers will begin to receive bids.
It’s free for the farmer, though buyers pay a fee and producers have a paid option for greater market access. Buyers include livestock producers who need identity-preserved products such as high-protein soybeans. Every transaction is insured.
Indigo Ag’s other free marketplace for farmers, called Carbon, allows farmers to sign up to be paid for storing carbon.
While customers for carbon credits are relatively few, that could change, and the more than 17 million acres signed up through Carbon are primed to benefit, as they get paid potentially $20 to $45 an acre for not disturbing the soil and pursuing other carbon-storing practices.
T3rra 3D. T3rra 3D is a simple and free web app that uses your tractor logs to generate interactive 3D models of fields. This allows farmers to simulate rainfall and observe where water runs, drains and pools. They can target drainage and dirt work operations to those areas that need them most.
While elevation models typically need surveys conducted by specialists, elevation information is already available in the John Deere Operations Center. It allows farmers to directly access this data and create 3D field models without the cost of extra field work.
Find the free web app at t3rra.com/software.
Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer
Austin Keating is the newest addition to the Farm Progress editorial team working as an associate editor for Prairie Farmer magazine. Austin was born and raised in Mattoon and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism. Following graduation in 2016, he worked as a science writer and videographer for the university’s supercomputing center. In June 2018, Austin obtained a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he was the campus correspondent for Planet Forward and a Comer scholar.
Austin is passionate about distilling agricultural science as a service for readers and creating engaging content for viewers. During his time at UI, he won two best feature story awards from the student organization JAMS — Journalism Advertising and Media Students — as well as a best news story award.
Austin lives in Charleston. He can sometimes be found at his family’s restaurant the Alamo Steakhouse and Saloon in Mattoon, or on the Embarrass River kayaking. Austin is also a 3D printing and modeling hobbyist.
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