This post is part of our Future of Agriculture series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
1. What’s the history of AgDNA? Where and how did you begin?
PT: With the intent of energizing the Precision Ag movement, myself and my co-founder, Dave Brewer, launched AgDNA in 2013 as a simple mobile app to help farmers with record keeping. Today, the company’s mission is to improve the profitability of farmers by helping them respond to the challenges of farming and seizing the opportunities agriculture has to offer.
The AgDNA platform was initially conceived as a mobile app to support farm record keeping and create better accountability for growers. Since then, the platform has grown and evolved dramatically. Today, AgDNA exists as a Farm Management Software (FMS) platform that provides connectivity with data from major OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and service providers, including compatibility with dozens of additional controller types. Progressive growers and dealerships work closely with AgDNA FMS to play an integral role in shaping the platform into what it is today.
Currently, AgDNA operates globally and is available at over 370 authorized dealership locations across Australia, Canada, the United States and Europe. The company ranks among the world’s most innovative precision ag disruptors, incorporating benchmarking, data analytics, financials, crop health, activity tracking, and agronomic management into a single platform. Having already solved the complex task of capturing, analyzing and delivering precision farming data from all the major equipment brands at scale, the company can now focus on the high value, high return-on-investment tools currently in the pipeline for 2018.
2. What specific problem does AgDNA solve? How do you solve it?
PT: Specifically, AgDNA specializes in unlocking the value from all the data being generated in production agriculture today. Our collaboration with in-field equipment and real-time data collection provides growers with the information they need to make actionable decisions. By working alongside major ag manufacturers, we provide connectivity and compatibility for John Deere, CaseIH, New Holland, AGCO, Trimble and other major brands of controller.
In other words, the AgDNA FMS platform acts as a real-time hub for dozens of connected devices and machines (aka the Internet of Things). This is why AgDNA’s data collection is among the most accurate and comprehensive on the market today.
3. What’s the future of Agriculture?
PT: It’s difficult to make predictions, but following current trends it’s logical to assume that the future of agriculture will move into a space that involves greater digital connectivity between the farm and the farmer:
Prediction #1: Data Automation
All the major equipment manufacturers and precision ag hardware providers now have some form of connectivity solution to get their data to the cloud. This presents a tremendous opportunity to maximize the value of that data. However, the sheer volume of data that is now being generated means that it must be automatically analyzed and delivered appropriately if it is going to be of value to the grower.
Prediction #2: Predictive Insights
With the automatic capture, storage and analysis of all this “big data” on the farm, data scientists can now develop algorithms that use this information to “learn” and solve complex problems. By comparing billions of precise measurements from previous seasons, powerful computer systems (such as AgDNA) are finding patterns emerging from this data that can help make decisions when similar scenarios arise in the future.
Prediction #3: Smart Devices
Just as the transportation industry is looking to use emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence to build “driverless cars”, the agriculture industry will see its fair share of AI-powered “smart devices”. These smart devices will be able to make decisions in real time while operating in the field. Examples include identifying weeds and only spraying them but not the crop, or evaluating crop health and applying the precise amount of nitrogen required based on the needs of each plant.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in Agriculture?
PT: AgDNA has specifically been keeping track of emerging technologies in the ag space. Here are three innovative technologies we predict will deeply impact agriculture in the near future:
Trend #1: Cloud Computing
While most people simplify cloud computing as “data being stored on a server,” it is important to consider not only where the data is being stored, but also how it is being collected. Cloud computing allows data to be taken from multiple data points scattered throughout a farming operation.
Trend #2: Drones
There is some cynicism about the future of drones in agriculture due to their limitations: flight times, line of sight and data processing. However, thanks to the resources being invested into the sector, AgDNA believes drones will soon dominate the industry. Drones can work 24/7 and reach places in fields that are normally inaccessible to humans. Advancements made in cloud processing may soon mean drones will be able to both assess and act on crop issues autonomously.
Trend #3: Robotics
Unmanned ground-based robots are the next logical step for on-farm mechanization. Farm machinery already uses GPS satellites to steer, wire to control speed, and wireless telematics to report vehicle activity, position and condition back to a remote user.
5. Why is the Agriculture industry ripe for disruption?
PT: A study of 22 industry sectors conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2015 found agriculture to be the least digitized industry in the world. This presents an incredible opportunity for efficiency gains across the entire agriculture supply chain.
The speed and scale of new technologies entering the farming sector is greater today than any other time in the history of agriculture. Growers are asking themselves more and more, “How will technology affect my agribusiness?”
More importantly, technology is here to stay. Fully-connected and automated FMS platforms like AgDNA require little time investment or resources, but will maximize the economic potential of every acre.
About Paul Turner
Paul Turner is co-founder and CEO of AgDNA, a world leading AgTech company specializing in cloud-based Precision Farming solutions. Paul founded AgDNA to help crop producers increase their profitability through better data driven decisions by automating the collection, analysis and interpretation of farm data by combining technology and industry best practices.