Big Happenings At FarmLink In ’15

Brent Schipper, a grower from Conrad, IA, looking at the TrueHarvest tool on an iPad.
Brent Schipper, a grower from Conrad, IA, looking at the TrueHarvest tool on an iPad.

Eavesdropping on a group of rival growers down at the local coffee shop. Aimlessly driving country back roads on a slow day, estimating potential bushels-per-acre on each field you pass.

These are things that many in agriculture have probably found themselves doing at one time or another. We just can’t seem to help it, humans are naturally curious animals, after all.

FarmLink is currently in the midst of trying to change that “keeping up with the neighbors” mindset. Enter the Kansas City, MO-based ag tech outfit’s newest product, TrueHarvest.

TrueHarvest is an intruiging new agronomic data “benchmarking” platform. According to Paul Konrad, managing director, FarmLink, the idea of data benchmarking, or making apples-to-apples comparisons (Ford vs. Chevy, Coke vs. Pepsi, etc.) is already deeply entrenched in many other industries, but FarmLink’s program is the first “peer-to-peer yield benchmarking data program that uses unbiased analytics” in analyzing the same beyond-their-control variables that all farmers deal with: sun, soil, topography and water.

The program’s backbone is millions of acres of yield data obtained via MachineryLink, a combine leasing business that FarmLink administers throughout the U.S.
Owning 200 data-collecting combines across 26 states, the growers that lease these machines from FarmLink for fall harvest in turn provide the yield data on which the company bases its benchmarking system.

“We capture a yield signature across 1.5 million acres annually with the yield monitors on those combines,” says Konrad. “That’s how we build out our yield database – which is different from some of our competitors because we ensure our machines are always properly calibrated and set up to capture high quality and accurate data. Precision Ag is only as good and actionable as precision data.”

Now 15 years into the MachineryLink leasing program – the last five of which having been spent primarily building out the TrueHarvest benchmark – Farm Link has assembled a bank of yield data on over 6 million acres, and the program is ready for its full nationwide launch after limited availability in ten states last fall.

“As a career agronomist this just really excites me,” says Konrad. “This is the missing cornerstone in ag data analysis. What benchmarking allows you to do is measure performance. Are my cultural practices working? Are the products I am putting down actually making a difference? And for ag retailers and advisors this is a tool they can use to bring additional value to their grower-customers.”

Konrad says the system can also help growers reduce risk and improve their overall sustainability and land use.

“One of the ways that we have used this tool is, say that you have some land that is low-performing on a bushels-per-acre level,” he says. “Well, once you analyze it compared to similar fields across the country you may find out that that ground is actually performing pretty efficiently given the variables affecting it. Or, you may find that it may not be sustainable to continue growing on that land. That’s the type of thing we are hoping to uncover in the data.”

Addition by addition

FarmLink has also been busy on the personnel side of things, attracting top-level industry talent away from some of the larger multinationals.

Former Pioneer plant breeder and WinField executive Dave Gebhardt recently took them up on the offer, joining on with FarmLink after a seven year stint with the Shoreview, MN-based company where he was largely responsible for development and execution of WinField’s R7 satellite imagery tool.

“I honestly didn’t make this decision lightly,” said Gebhardt during a phone interview on his first day on the job with FarmLink. “I have the ultimate and utmost respect for WinField and all of the great people that work there.”

That being said, Gebhardt relayed that there were a couple of aspects about FarmLink’s organizational culture that attracted him to the startup.

“Number one, I am a development-minded person, and from the start with WinField my goal was to develop a decision support and R7 tool, and those efforts had become a little more mature recently,” he said. “Secondly, there’s just an excitement that I get from joining an entrepreneurial company like this – these are the companies that are going to drive innovation in ag. That’s really where I feel my sweet spot is.”

The aforementioned benchmarking approach was another intriguing aspect that helped sell Gebhardt on making the jump.

“At the top of FarmLink there’s a vision for changing agriculture, to bringing a whole other level of data science to farming,” he explains. “It feels like we are adding something entirely new and innovative to the precision agriculture tool box, instead of just releasing new products. Benchmarking, I feel, can take precision ag to the next level.

“I turn 50 this year, and I’ve got a full tank of gas ready to help FarmLink make this run, and hopefully we’ll transform agriculture a little bit too.”

Leave a Reply

Data Management Stories
Data ManagementBeck’s Builds Out ‘Freemium’ FMIS Offering
August 17, 2017
Beck’s today announced the release of several new tools available in their precision farming service, FARMserver, which enhances farmers’ ability Read More
Area-of-Interest-Web-Soil-Survey-screenshot
Data ManagementSignificant Updates Made to SoilWeb, Web Soil Survey Programs
August 15, 2017
Agronomic professionals and technicians dealing with precision farming must understand the soils within the field before writing effective prescriptions.  A Read More
Spray Drift
Data ManagementJanzen: Data to Play Key Role in Sorting Out Dicamba Disaster
August 10, 2017
You would have to live under a rock to not have heard about farmers’ issues with dicamba this growing season. Read More
Data ManagementDuPont Acquires Ag Tech Startup Granular for $300 Million
August 9, 2017
DuPont announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire San Francisco-based Granular, Inc., a provider of software and Read More
Trending Articles
Agri-AFC-cotton-baler
Business ManagementBringing a Southern Sensibility to Precision Agriculture
August 7, 2017
Amy Winstead considers herself blessed to have gotten in on the ground floor of precision ag adoption in the Southeast. Read More
Sensors/IoT2017 Yield Monitor Calibration Checklist — Part I
August 4, 2017
With fall harvest a few weeks away for most of the country, ag service providers from every walk of life Read More
Wade-Barnes
Excellence AwardsBuilt By Agronomists: 2017 Award Of Excellence Winner Wade Barnes on the Making of Farmers Edge
August 2, 2017
Farmers Edge President And CEO Wade Barnes reflects on the process of building his company, shortly after receiving the Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur Award during the InfoAg Conference in July. Read More
Data ManagementInfoAg 2017 Recap: Service Providers Take Center Stage
July 28, 2017
As I sit here and ponder just what it was that we all experienced last week, off the top of Read More
Resistant-weeds-in-Brazil
InternationalUsing Precision Agriculture to Control Herbicide-Resistant Weeds in Brazil
July 24, 2017
The occurrence of weeds in agricultural fields of grain and fiber production has caused losses to farmers for a long Read More
Yield Data Image
Data ManagementYield Data: More Than a Pretty Picture
July 13, 2017
It is mid-July, which, for the Australian cotton industry, means that picking is still going on for some growers. A Read More
Latest News
Data ManagementBeck’s Builds Out ‘Freemium’ FMIS Off…
August 17, 2017
Beck’s today announced the release of several new tools available in their precision farming service, FARMserver, which enhances farmers’ ability Read More
Israel-Irrigation-system-featured-image
InternationalIsraeli Precision Ag Companies Lead in Water Use Effici…
August 16, 2017
In the last week, AgriHub, formed by farmers and consultants from Brazil, visited 10 Israeli agribusiness companies, including the Ministry Read More
Gregoire-tractor
ProfessionalsMechanization Key to the Future of Vineyard Management
August 15, 2017
Precision technology moves at different speeds across different segments of agriculture. For example, technologies like curve compensation, precision spraying, and Read More
Area-of-Interest-Web-Soil-Survey-screenshot
Data ManagementSignificant Updates Made to SoilWeb, Web Soil Survey Pr…
August 15, 2017
Agronomic professionals and technicians dealing with precision farming must understand the soils within the field before writing effective prescriptions.  A Read More
Univ.-of-Illlinois-Palmer-in-soybean1
Business ManagementOpinion: How to Leverage Precision Agriculture to Launc…
August 14, 2017
To continue where my last article left off (which you can check out here), a precision ag company that specializes Read More
Industry NewsFarm Dog Inks Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement with USD…
August 14, 2017
Farm Dog, a pest and disease management platform for growers and agronomists, has entered into a Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement (NFCA) Read More
Lisa-Prassack-Photo-Credit-Weekly-Times-Now
InternationalAgtech: What the Umbrella Term Really Means
August 10, 2017
Acclerator, incubator, start-up, connectivity — the buzzwords of the digital age can be clear as, well, mud, writes Alex Sampson Read More
Spray Drift
Data ManagementJanzen: Data to Play Key Role in Sorting Out Dicamba Di…
August 10, 2017
You would have to live under a rock to not have heard about farmers’ issues with dicamba this growing season. Read More
New-Zealand-Precision-Ag-Tour
InternationalNew Zealand Study Tour to Demonstrate Recent Advances i…
August 10, 2017
If you’re interested in an intense, week-long immersion in the use of high-tech products and practices in New Zealand agriculture, Read More
Data ManagementDuPont Acquires Ag Tech Startup Granular for $300 Milli…
August 9, 2017
DuPont announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire San Francisco-based Granular, Inc., a provider of software and Read More
EventsSDSU Prof to lead Profit-Focused Panel at Upcoming Inno…
August 9, 2017
Convening a day prior to this summer’s Farm Progress Show at the I Hotel in Champaign, IL (about an hour’s Read More
AGCO White planter 9800VE
ProfessionalsAGCO Crop Tour 2017 Features Precision Planting Add-Ons
August 8, 2017
Higher yields and greater returns are the ultimate goals for crop producers. To help corn growers better understand the role Read More
Corn
Business ManagementCrop Pro Insurance Closes $8 Million in Series A Fundin…
August 8, 2017
Crop Pro Insurance today announced the close of an $8 million Series A round of financing co-led by top agriculture Read More
Agri-AFC-cotton-baler
Business ManagementBringing a Southern Sensibility to Precision Agricultur…
August 7, 2017
Amy Winstead considers herself blessed to have gotten in on the ground floor of precision ag adoption in the Southeast. Read More
Satshot imagery
Imagery/SensingImagery in Agriculture: Some Sage Advice
August 6, 2017
SatShot President Lanny Faleide has been a fixture on the remote imagery scene for as long as about anyone still Read More
Blue-River-See-Spray-technology
ProfessionalsHow Blue River’s See & Spray Technology Could Chang…
August 5, 2017
The blistering West Texas heat rocketing towards triple digits, the affable cotton grower trudged across his dusty field and approached Read More
Grower Services & Solutions2017 Yield Monitor Calibration Checklist — Part II
August 4, 2017
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part II of Tim Norris’ Yield Monitor Calibration checklist, Part I of which was published in Read More
Sensors/IoT2017 Yield Monitor Calibration Checklist — Part I
August 4, 2017
With fall harvest a few weeks away for most of the country, ag service providers from every walk of life Read More