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

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Data Stories
DataSentera Honored With Startup Award Of 2016 By Minnesota High Tech Association
December 1, 2016
The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) recently recognized Sentera as the 2016 Tekne Startup Award recipient. The MHTA Tekne Awards Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To Enhance VRT Programs
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
BusinessFarmobile Releases Mobile Data Visualization Dashboard
November 17, 2016
Farmobile today announced an EFR Dashboard, a real-time dashboard that helps farmers visualize their field data and derive insights to Read More
Southern States
Best PracticesSouthern States: 5 Tips for Variable-Rate Seeding Success
November 15, 2016
Success comes from taking advantage of every opportunity you can. One technique used in precision farming, called variable rate seeding, Read More
Trending Articles
GVM E-Series cab
Ag Tech GlobalGlobalization And Precision Agriculture
December 7, 2016
Globalization has taken on a negative connotation in some circles in the U.S. in recent months. The lightning rod for Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To Enhance VRT Programs
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Kinze 4900 Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter
Business ManagementKinze Fights Deere, Feds To Block Release Of Trade Secrets
November 22, 2016
An antitrust lawsuit intended to block a small-scale deal between agricultural giants John Deere and Monsanto is putting an Iowa Read More
BusinessClimate Corp. Acquires European FMIS Company
November 21, 2016
Today, The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of VitalFields, a European farm management software company Read More
USDA UAV
Hort TechHigh-Tech Agriculture Continues To Reap Rewards For Farmers
November 11, 2016
Just like a smartphone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology — known as precision agriculture — Read More
BusinessTrimble Launches New FMIS Platform
November 7, 2016
Trimble announced today that it is consolidating three of its agriculture software products — Connected Farm, Farm Works Software and Read More
Latest News
AgBot16 Challenge
Hort TechUSDA Announces $3 Million For Agricultural Robotics Res…
December 8, 2016
The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced the availability of $3 million in available funding for Read More
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
Business ManagementPrecision Farming Forecast: 4 Challenges, Opportunities…
December 7, 2016
Opportunities and challenges. They are the yin and yang of the business world. It could easily be argued that, out Read More
GVM E-Series cab
Ag Tech GlobalGlobalization And Precision Agriculture
December 7, 2016
Globalization has taken on a negative connotation in some circles in the U.S. in recent months. The lightning rod for Read More
Buhler Versatile HQ cab
BusinessThe State Of Precision Ag In 2016
December 7, 2016
There’s no denying that precision technologies and practices are more vibrant than ever. Elsewhere on this site, you will find Read More
BusinessFarmobile Details New AGCO Distribution Deal
December 6, 2016
Farmobile today announced a strategic partnership with AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment. The agreement will allow Read More
Hort TechSol Chip Launches Autonomous, Wireless Solar Tag for Sm…
December 6, 2016
Sol Chip, a provider of Internet of Things (IoT) systems and energy harvesting solutions, today announced the introduction of its Read More
TechnologyAgGateway Announces 2017 Board Of Directors And Leaders…
December 2, 2016
AgGateway has announced its leadership for the coming year, including the directors of its new Strategic Board and Operational Board, Read More
DataSentera Honored With Startup Award Of 2016 By Minnesota…
December 1, 2016
The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) recently recognized Sentera as the 2016 Tekne Startup Award recipient. The MHTA Tekne Awards Read More
AGCO AgControl
TechnologyPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
December 1, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To En…
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Fall corn
BusinessInsecticide of the Future? Robotic Tanks With Lasers to…
November 22, 2016
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Topcon X30 Console in cab
Sensors/IoTIoT The Focus Of New Topcon Partnership
November 22, 2016
Topcon Agriculture and SDF plan to enter into a non-exclusive long-term partnership agreement. This latest arrangement of Topcon with a Read More
Kinze 4900 Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter
Business ManagementKinze Fights Deere, Feds To Block Release Of Trade Secr…
November 22, 2016
An antitrust lawsuit intended to block a small-scale deal between agricultural giants John Deere and Monsanto is putting an Iowa Read More
BusinessClimate Corp. Acquires European FMIS Company
November 21, 2016
Today, The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of VitalFields, a European farm management software company Read More
BusinessFarmobile Releases Mobile Data Visualization Dashboard
November 17, 2016
Farmobile today announced an EFR Dashboard, a real-time dashboard that helps farmers visualize their field data and derive insights to Read More
Southern States
Best PracticesSouthern States: 5 Tips for Variable-Rate Seeding Succe…
November 15, 2016
Success comes from taking advantage of every opportunity you can. One technique used in precision farming, called variable rate seeding, Read More
USDA UAV
Hort TechHigh-Tech Agriculture Continues To Reap Rewards For Far…
November 11, 2016
Just like a smartphone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology — known as precision agriculture — Read More
THRIVE
BusinessCall For Ag Tech Startups: Apply To THRIVE’s Open…
November 10, 2016
THRIVE is looking for high growth ag tech companies with an in-market solution that are positioned to scale. The top 50 Read More