Agriculture technology is advancing quickly, and all parts of the business from farm to market need new tools to maximize opportunities. For dealers supporting farmers, this tech race is getting a boost from one player that could help farmer-customers.
Solinftec is a digital platform that dealers can use to support customers. The company got its start in Brazil in 2007, but it is scaling up services in North America and recently added a new partner –– IBM. “We’ve been working with IBM on many projects from artificial intelligence to blockchain, and even weather,” says Daniel Padrão, chief operating officer, Solinftec. “But now we’re going to use weather to plan.”
Padrão explains the company will be matching data from weather insights to determine more accurate decisions regarding input applications. “We’re adding new information to the system and new parameters to the operations we are supporting.”
Those parameters, built on weather data IBM provides, will help determine what can be applied and where, but Padrão goes farther.
“We want to solve the problem in real time,” he explains. “We have the field boundary, we know who the farmer is –– and because we know what was planted, we can determine when we are going to apply.”
Using a work order system, a dealer can set up the next day’s work, but where the IBM Weather portion comes in is prediction. “So we put all that information together, and all those work orders, and look out five days,” Padrão explains. “We can then build a schedule, and determine the most efficient route to use.”
Farmers want their fields sprayed at the right time in the growing season. And for those relying on custom application from the local dealer, that can be worrying. Padrão notes that with the system, your dealer could schedule a week’s work and be more efficient about where sprayers need to be, and when. And with the added weather information, Solinftec’s artificial intelligence engine can build more efficient schedules.
He adds that with more accurate scheduling, and better logistics, the dealer gets more hours in a day to cover ground. “This is a new solution to the market,” he explains. “We have to discuss change a lot, and it’s a mindset change for dealers.”
What can this weather-powered, artificial intelligence, real-time system mean for a dealer and for customers? “Solinftec users in Brazil have seen an increase in the efficiency of their operations by up to 40%,” Padrão says.
When Solinftec expanded into the U.S. in 2018, the company spent the first year simply gathering data. “Everybody thought that we were crazy, but we just gathered data; and after we collected all this data, we analyzed it,” Padrão says.
What did they learn from this retail data-gathering experience? That out of a 10-hour day, the custom spray machine was moving for 3½ hours, traveling from field to field for 3½ hours and sitting in a field for 3 of those hours waiting to be tended.
That's just 35% active time spraying out of a full day. “What we are trying to do is make a change,” Padrão says. “Let’s take those hours that we are losing. Let’s use those hours to improve spraying quality conditions.”
Recently, Solinftec also announced it was expanding its partnership with Ceres Solutions, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Crawfordsville, Ind. The cooperative started working with Solinftec in 2019, using the software solution to enhance its custom application services. Based on feedback from the team and customers, Ceres is boosting the number of retail locations using Solinftec fourfold.
The system supports Ceres Solutions’ complex custom application service, which uses a fleet of diverse machines including Agco, John Deere and Case IH equipment, as well as tender trucks. Adds Drew Garretson, director of digital experience at Ceres Solutions: “The adoption of technology across agriculture is moving at a rapid pace, and it’s imperative that we enable our team at Ceres with the best tools to serve our customers.”
The artificial intelligence-driven scheduling boosts productivity for the cooperative, but it also enhances the potential of that dealership covering acres across the trade area as farmers need it.
For more information, visit solinftec.com.