Logistics Technology Delivers Benefits To Indiana Retailer

Retail dealership Ceres Solutions LLC, Crawfordsville, IN is using a variety of technology tools to make its precision program run more efficiently. Troy Walker, GIS team leader at Ceres, shared details on some of the systems the company has in place, and where he would like to see technology move in the future.

Q. What is Ceres using for logistics?

We use two programs to help manage our soil and tissue sampling side of the business. One that we developed is called Tracker, and the second is John Deere’s AgLogic program, which we have been using for about 4 years.

We actually got in on AgLogic early on, and while it has a lot more functionality on the fertilizer and chemical application side that we don’t use, we like the general concept of seeing open orders spatially. We cover thirteen counties on the Indiana-Illinois border, really from Lake Michigan all the way down to the Ohio River – it’s a very narrow, long territory, and you can’t know all the fields. We run our samplers out of a couple of locations, and use interns in summer for sampling.

The staff I have doing soil and tissue sampling does not first-hand experience with fields that our well-seasoned branch managers would, so a logistics program lets me schedule more efficiently. When viewing fields that need to be sampled, I can see what fields are next to another fields and assign samplers so they are not traveling all over the territory.

It maximizes time spent in field – it has been a huge help for us in that regard. The way it used to be, it was all Google Earth and PLAT maps. That is challenging because while you do have a map of that field, it is still hard unless you are familiar enough with the fields to know where they lay in relation to the other fields around them. For example, you might naturally assume that the Troy Walker home farm is close to their residence, in reality we see growers with fields that stretch 20 to 50 miles apart. So, more efficiency in our ability to schedule is the primary advantage of using AgLogic.

We can also set routes strategically, for example, schedule a sampler to start at the farthest point from his or her house and work back toward home by end of the day. And we also can generate turn by turn directions, which saves a lot of time and hassle. Finally, if all that fails we can go online and look at look at where the location is, where they are, and provide directions

The Tracker program was developed about 10 years ago from necessity. I’m not sure how others handle it, but we used to get growers telling us in a lot of different ways – phone calls, faxes, emails – when a field was harvested and ready to sample. It’s really challenging for us during the busy time to get a call like that when you’re in the middle of something else to put it on a schedule. You write it on a piece of paper and later on you can’t find it. Not having field results for a grower because of a misplaced or forgotten order is not a good place to be.

Tracker allows the salesman to go in anytime and put fields in that they know are going to get sampled. Once in the system, we have a bar code system we use for our lab, which eliminates extra paperwork.

In the Tracker system, the field sits in a “not ready” status, and when it is harvested the salesman logs in and click and field is ready. That field automatically transferred into the AgLogic program and we know to send a person in to do the sample. It eliminates the need to rely on calls, faxes and other means of communication. We still miss things from time to time, but it cuts down on errors.

It also allows us to track our performance, from who told us it was ready to go to when we actually got out there. It also tracks when we get results back from the lab, and how much time it took us to get recommendations back to the salesman, and it handles all billing for us.

On the tissue sampling side, similar to soil sales the salesman places an place order for work on a field, and if they go back in and give use the planting date for field the program will calculate growing degree days. The system pulled weather data every night, and calculates growing degree days for each region. Matching up growing degree days with a particular crop, the system can predict the growth stage that is optimal for sampling, assigns a tissue sampler and schedules an appointment on the farm through AgLogic.

The logistics capabilities are huge for tissue sampling, as we’ve grower from just a handful of customers to nearly 500 fields, and that’s a lot to track without some help.

Q. What would you like to see improved?

A. One of my grievances is that the platforms that AgLogic makes available to use for giving directions and generating orders are very limited. In fact, we only have two choices – the Intermex CN70 ruggedized handhed computer, which costs about $3000, or phones with Windows CE. They stopped making Windows CE phones, so getting them and keeping them functional is a constant challenge. We joke that Ceres has cornered the market on CE units. We’ve been talking to John Deere about this and hopefully they will come forward with an update, or something that works on a tablet.

On the sampling side we use SST, so we are really looking forward to having Sirrus to use when it is released as a tablet app this year. sampling uses SST so hopefully they will ge cirrus released to the public and we will be on tablet.

Last, I hope tablets in the future come with better GPS reception than they currently have, It’s not that good and not repeatable … we tried a Bluetooth attachment and that still is not working well. We’re not looking for RTK level accuracy, but we’d like to be consistently within a foot or two. I’d also like to see more development on the Android platform.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Data Management Stories
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementHow to Address the Challenges of Data Science in Agriculture
April 26, 2017
Recently, Joe Byrum wrote an excellent article on the state of machine learning in agriculture. In it, Joe highlighted one Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnership: Farmers Edge, Allied Cooperative Link Up
April 24, 2017
Farmers Edge announced it has partnered with Allied Cooperative, a provider of agronomy, feed, grain, and equipment services to growers Read More
Data ManagementFarm Market iD Launches Sales & Marketing Platform
April 20, 2017
Following Farm Market iD’s February 2017 introduction of FieldVision, its mobile data-delivery platform, the company announced today its newest online Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: The Weather Company’s Rob Berglund on Cognitive Computing
April 19, 2017
Rob Berglund, global director of sales, energy and agriculture at The Weather Company, discusses IBM’s Watson and applications for advanced analytics that will fundamentally change Read More
Trending Articles
GPS, Guidance
Business ManagementPromoting Precision Agricultural Innovation in a Risk Averse Marketplace
April 24, 2017
As precision agriculture consultants we constantly are being asked our opinions on where to invest, and how to strategically invest Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: The Weather Company’s Rob Berglund on Cognitive Computing
April 19, 2017
Rob Berglund, global director of sales, energy and agriculture at The Weather Company, discusses IBM’s Watson and applications for advanced analytics that will fundamentally change Read More
Corn close up
Data ManagementFarmers Business Network Releases State of the Industry Style Report
April 17, 2017
Farmer’s Business Network (FBN) released today its “The Voice of the Farmer”, a special research report on the state of Read More
Soybean Closeup
Ag Tech GlobalPrecision Agriculture Helps Brazilian Farmers Top 90-Bushel Soybean Yield
April 5, 2017
In the 2016/2017 harvest, the Mato Grossense Institute of Economics (IMEA) estimated that the largest soybean state in Brazil will Read More
Grower Retaile iPad
ProfessionalsField Scouting Apps Boost Efficiency, Speed
March 31, 2017
Scouting is one of the most critical services that ag retailers and consultants can offer their grower-customers. The need for Read More
Bruce Rasa corn AgVoice app
Data ManagementVoice-To-Data Tool Shows Promise For Scouting
March 24, 2017
See it, speak it, record it. No pens, no paper, no lost information. In a nutshell that’s what Bruce Rasa Read More
Latest News
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
Ag Tech GlobalBASF Fortifies Digital Farming Offer with ZedX Acquisit…
April 27, 2017
BASF has signed an agreement to acquire US-based company ZedX, a leader in the development of digital agricultural intelligence. The Read More
Sentera
DronesSentera Announces May Release of Multispectral Double 4…
April 27, 2017
Sentera announced the release of its Multispectral Double 4K Sensor, offering five precise spectral bands: blue, green, red, red edge, Read More
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementHow to Address the Challenges of Data Science in Agricu…
April 26, 2017
Recently, Joe Byrum wrote an excellent article on the state of machine learning in agriculture. In it, Joe highlighted one Read More
Industry NewsFrom PrecisionAg with Love: Thanks, President Trump! (O…
April 26, 2017
Without getting too far into the weeds, I think it’s safe to say that today America feels more divided than Read More
Purdue Online Course
ProfessionalsPurdue University’s Online Precision Ag Course Re…
April 25, 2017
An online course offered by Purdue University’s Agronomy e-Learning Academy, Precision Agriculture, has received the 2017 Digital Education Excellence in Read More
Nuffield Scholarship
Ag Tech GlobalNuffield: Promoting the Diffusion of Knowledge of Preci…
April 24, 2017
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet John Stevenson, a 2016 Nuffield Australia Scholarship winner.  As part of the scholarship, John Read More
GPS, Guidance
Business ManagementPromoting Precision Agricultural Innovation in a Risk A…
April 24, 2017
As precision agriculture consultants we constantly are being asked our opinions on where to invest, and how to strategically invest Read More
Case IH Autonomous concept vehicle
ProfessionalsOpinion: What the Heck is A.I. Going to do for Agricult…
April 24, 2017
Let’s pause from the daily toils of ag for a minute and start thinking about the future. In a very Read More
Imagery ipad
Imagery/SensingNew Opportunities with In-season Imagery?
April 24, 2017
When I think about precision agriculture my usual thoughts are around the continuous learning about the variability in a field. Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnership: Farmers Edge, Allied Cooperative Link …
April 24, 2017
Farmers Edge announced it has partnered with Allied Cooperative, a provider of agronomy, feed, grain, and equipment services to growers Read More
Retailer Grower Tractor
ProfessionalsAg Attorney: Sorry Right to Repair Advocates, But You&#…
April 21, 2017
(via AgLaw.us) This recent article on Motherboard is getting a lot of press: “Why American Farmers are Hacking Their Tractors Read More
ProfessionalsAgFunder: Clean Seed’s Wireless Smart Seeder is Set to …
April 21, 2017
(Via AgFunderNews.com) Heard of Clean Seed Capital Group? No? You will very soon because this Canadian company has been quietly Read More
Business ManagementBionic Leaves: Future Source of Endless Fertilizer?
April 21, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Sentera software
Decision Support SoftwareSentera Launching Field-Edge Plant Population Analysis …
April 20, 2017
Sentera is excited to announce the launch of its closed beta for field-edge Plant Population Analysis, available through its AgVault Read More
Data ManagementFarm Market iD Launches Sales & Marketing Platform
April 20, 2017
Following Farm Market iD’s February 2017 introduction of FieldVision, its mobile data-delivery platform, the company announced today its newest online Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: The Weather Company’…
April 19, 2017
Rob Berglund, global director of sales, energy and agriculture at The Weather Company, discusses IBM’s Watson and applications for advanced analytics that will fundamentally change Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: EFC Systems & 5 Facto…
April 19, 2017
Ernie Chappell of EFC Systems discusses five factors impacting the ag retail industry, the competitive advantages of enhanced customer engagement Read More
Moo monitor
Sensors/IoTUsing IoT to Increase Efficiency, Productivity for Live…
April 19, 2017
When it comes to managing livestock and feed, the goal for every farmer is to be as efficient and productive Read More