More farmers are gaining an understanding of the value of data collected on their farms, and with that comes some frustration from lack of access to key information. A common data gap is often the as-applied information collected from custom application fleets.
Nutrien Ag Solutions recently acquired Agbridge, a technology firm that aims to make moving data from field to farm office a lot easier.
The Agbridge tool is a color-blind solution for moving data around. “When we first came up with the idea,” says Kevin Klas, co-founder of Agbridge, “we had bought a regional equipment reseller in the Carolinas. When we talked to those customers, we realized that the one thing they kept telling us was how hard it was to get data off machines, no matter what color machine they used.”
For Agbridge, the answer wasn’t an elaborate approach, though their “box” does contain an onboard computer smart enough to know when it can move data from machine to the cloud. “Our system connects to the thumb-drive port on the monitor,” Klas says.
Essentially what Agbridge did was create a souped-up USB card that can pull information from the monitor and hold it, or move it to the cloud for easy access later.
“This is a single onboard computer that has a lot of functionality to it,” Klas says. “And it works in areas where there is no connectivity. You use it in ‘smart device’ mode, and it transfers information to your phone. When you get to a location where you have connectivity, the information goes into the cloud.”
The trick is the app on the phone, which will know when it can move that data for you … or for the operator of a large application fleet like Nutrien Ag Solutions.
The team at Agbridge will stay on with Nutrien Ag Solutions, and Klas explains that they sold the company to Nutrien because they wanted to be able to scale up to meet demand. “We needed something or somebody to help us scale, and with the reach and number of locations Nutrien Ag Solutions has, it provides us that scale,” he says. “Having an organization like Nutrien Ag Solutions that’s not just large but also forward-thinking was important to us.”
Leveraging the fleet
For Nutrien Ag Solutions, Agbridge solves an issue an issue for the company. “What got us excited about Agbridge is that we have a giant application fleet and do a lot of in-season product application for our customers. And our operations are a mixed fleet of machines,” explains Sol Goldfarb, vice president of digital at Nutrien Ag Solutions.
Initially, this technology will allow Nutrien to outfit its fleet to capture information and make it more readily available to customers. Those as-applied maps will be easier to obtain than in the past, given that Agbridge will be a common platform for applicators.
Longer term, Nutrien Ag Solutions customers will be able to put Agbridge to work on their farms, too, capturing information from multibrand equipment into a single location for sharing into key applications.
The fleet application information gathered by the Agbridge tool will be available for customers to access from the Nutrien Ag Solutions customer portal, Goldfarb explains. “We’re excited to bring the Agbridge founders on board and ramp up installation of the devices they’ve created on all of our application equipment” Goldfarb says.
The Nutrien Ag Solutions fleet will be a priority, but customers will be hearing more in the next few months, as this ag-tech move offers exciting opportunities for data transfer in the future.