Monsanto “Connects The Dots” on IFS at Farm Progress

Robb Fraley at Monsanto IFS Event

Perspective  Working as an ag journalist who must board a plane to reach the darkest reaches of the Midwest Corn Belt, I probably have no right to say this. But after spending two hellish days haunting the Farm Progress Show, row crop agriculture’s last fling of summer (no disrespect to Husker Harvest, which actually follows) and chasing back and forth to far flung hotels, I have had my fill seeing and talking about the thousands of acres of dead, crispy crops. Putting aside that many growers prudently procured the proper insurance, I can’t really fathom what it must be like to wake up and look at it every day.

We got a small, relatively modest sampling  of nature’s wrath, with temps in the mid 90s the two days I was there. But after 12 hours in the heat with only brief respites in air conditioned tents, not even a nifty bow and arrow show that Case IH intertwined within its introduction of new equipment could raise me from the near dead as day one ended.

All this said, there was a whole lot going on at Farm Progress, especially in the technology space, that made the journey more than worth it. Some things were screaming obvious, and some of it could be found below the surface.

For us in the media, the Farm Progress Show experience started with a bang, as Monsanto afforded us the opportunity to see how the pieces of its Integrated Farming Services (IFS) precision agronomy effort are coming together … or as Monsanto’s Dave Rhylander explained to me, it was  chance to ‘connect all the dots.”

First, a word about the seriousness of this particular effort. Three top executives with the company, Jon Jansen, Rhylander, and John Raines (IFS Commercial Lead) have been working with IFS Strategy Lead Ted Crosbie, the guy who’s championed this effort throughout its evolution at Monsanto, to drive this project and bring it to the forefront of corporate psyche. Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley was there to kick off the media show and tell, and after chatting with a number of the folks in attendance from the company it is clear that some of the best and brightest are in the mix. Significant man hours and dollars have been expended. This is not a fail fast, fail cheap, bail out move … it’s coming.

I put this forward for your consideration only because there have been many fits and starts in the precision ag space over the past 15-plus years, and many grand plans have failed miserably.  I don’t see that here.

So here’s the deal. Monsanto is planning to leverage its knowledge of its own germplasm and biotech traits, along with its own data about  relative performance in a wide range of real world field conditions (amounting to millions of data points) to deliver specific seed selection and plant population recommendations to growers, heretofore branded as FieldScripts. It has developed proprietary algorithms it believes can deliver solid localized recommendations to (eventually) any grower, anywhere.

Monsanto is rolling things out slowly for 2013, with specially selected growers in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, working with selected seed dealers on DeKalb branded corn hybrids. The seed dealer will be critical to the process, acting as trusted advisor, central communicator and technical specialist to bring growers into the program effectively.

Growers who sign onto FieldScripts will be required to dedicate a minimum number of acres to the program, and they will submit any historical data they can provide on soil and fertility, yield, past hybrids planted, and cropping practices.  Monsanto will take that information and provide specific hybrid and variable rate (where required) plant population recommendations to the grower.

In this launch phase, growers will be required to use planter technology built by Precision Planting, the company Monsanto acquired earlier this year, another indication of how serious Monsanto is about making this happen. It’s clear that Monsanto was enamored with Precision Planting’s dedication to seed spacing accuracy, as well as its ability to automatically (and rapidly) implement changes in rate while planting. Finally, they also announced the addition of hydraulic downforce control at the planter box level to the Precision Planting system, which they claim will greatly increase the consistency of planting depth.

Essentially, Monsanto is trying to take the uncertainties out of the seed selection and planting process.

At the media event representatives from Winfield Solutions, Brandt Consolidated and GROWMARK were on hand. Each have a stake both in the selling of Monsanto’s seed brands and in the total agronomic recommendations they develop with growers each year. The question in my head was, how does this impact their professional agronomic recommendations?

What I heard was that in the end, no one really knows Monsanto seed like Monsanto, and if they can bring the best recommendation to the table then it’s a good thing. And the other services they provide as a trusted advisor will continue, and in a perfect world, improve.

Monsanto plans to widely release this offering in 2014 and provide more growers with the ability to take it for a test run. Will it take off? It’s hard to say. We’ve seen perfect storms go both ways in agriculture where ideal conditions have allowed products and practices to rapidly expand, and where challenging conditions have triggered setbacks.

Will growers be willing to trust and share data? Assuming success, how soon with Asgrow and Channel and the Monsanto affiliated brands come into the fold? For full service retailers and agricultural consultants who don’t handle Monsanto brands, how will the decision support services they provide mesh with FieldScripts? Steve Cubbage, a highly respected precision consultant who sat in on the Monsanto festivities (and is himself a Precision Planting dealer through his company Prime Meridian), told me he’d get back to me once he digested everything.

The main message for me is, find out what you can about it, and how it might affect you and your operation. Because it is coming.

That’s it for this week, but there were plenty more takeaways from Farm Progress to be shared in the days ahead. Catch you then …

Topics:

Leave a Reply

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

Suppliers Stories
AGCO Fuse Ecosystem
SuppliersAGCO Collaborates With Other Industry Leaders To Bring More High-Tech Solutions For Customers
August 19, 2016
AGCO Corp. continues to expand its open approach to precision farming through new data connections and industry alliances to provide Read More
Veris soil sampling
SuppliersVeris Technologies, The Climate Corp. Form Soil Mapping Partnership
August 19, 2016
Veris Technologies and The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., recently announced a partnership that will make high resolution Read More
SuppliersTrimble Tacks on 4 New Vantage Partners
August 18, 2016
Trimble announced today that it has added four new partners to its Vantage distribution network — a global network of Read More
Climate FieldView Plus (Planting) iPad
SuppliersClimate’s FieldView Platform Is Poised For Serious Inroads
July 26, 2016
Whether Monsanto retains the Climate Corp. after various acquisition scenarios have played out or else Bayer CropScience or even some other Read More
Trending Articles
Ian Yule, ISPA
ResearchLeading Ag Technology Researcher Appointed ISPA President
September 26, 2016
Massey University’s Professor Ian Yule, one of the world’s leading agri-tech researchers, has been voted president of the International Society Read More
Business2016 Farm Science Review: Talkin’ New Products, Education and Big Data
September 21, 2016
The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review has become an annual rite of fall for Buckeye State growers, retailers and Read More
Mitchell Technical Institute students with drone
IntegratorsMTI Precision Ag Students Use Drone Technology
September 19, 2016
After weeks of sitting in the classroom, several Mitchell Technical Institute students were able to spend a few hours outside Read More
Robotics AGCO Fendt Guide Connect
Market ImpactReport: Ag Robots And Drones May Be A $10 Billion Market By 2022
September 7, 2016
Robots and drones have begun to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. In fact, the IDTechEx Research report on Agricultural Read More
SDWG Bret Weisenburger
BusinessMZB Technologies, Climate FieldView Announce Data Integration for 2017 Season
September 6, 2016
MZB Technologies announces a data connectivity agreement with The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., providing increased precision agriculture Read More
Deere R4023 cab
BusinessReport: Smart Agriculture Market Worth $19 Billion By 2021
September 6, 2016
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Smart Agriculture Market – With Forecast (2016-2021)” report to their offering. Read More
Latest News
BusinessFarm Bureau Insurance Services, Granular Announce Partn…
September 29, 2016
American Farm Bureau Insurance Services (AFBIS Inc.), a Managing General Agent (MGA) for Approved Insurance Providers (AIP’s), has partnered with Read More
Sentera Rise Above
BusinessRise Above Selected To Resell Sentera Solutions Through…
September 28, 2016
Sentera, LLC, a global provider of remote sensing hardware and data management solutions signs a reseller agreement with Rise Above Read More
Western Canada Wheat field
DataFarmers Edge Partners With New Holland Dealer
September 28, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Mazergroup, North America’s largest Read More
A Satshot NDVIR analysis running on an iPad.
BusinessSatshot’s Landscout IOS Now API Linked With John …
September 28, 2016
Satshot’s Landscout IOS mobile software is now connected with the John Deere Operations Center through John Deere’s API services. Landscout Read More
Ag Drone
BusinessDroneDeploy Launches Turbo Uploader
September 27, 2016
DroneDeploy today announced a new solution that addresses drone data portability challenges in remote areas that have Internet bandwidth constraints. Read More
FUSE Farm Graphic
DataAGCO Is Founding Member Of The DKE Data-Hub Initiative
September 26, 2016
AGCO Corp., a world-leading manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, has announced its participation as a founding member of the DKE Read More
Ian Yule, ISPA
ResearchLeading Ag Technology Researcher Appointed ISPA Preside…
September 26, 2016
Massey University’s Professor Ian Yule, one of the world’s leading agri-tech researchers, has been voted president of the International Society Read More
BusinessADAPT Conversion Toolkit Making In Roads With Equipment…
September 22, 2016
A leading group of equipment manufacturers will soon release products that greatly enhance a grower’s ability to manage data across Read More
Business2016 Farm Science Review: Talkin’ New Products, Educati…
September 21, 2016
The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review has become an annual rite of fall for Buckeye State growers, retailers and Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge Awarded $6.1M Investment From Sustainable …
September 21, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has announced that it will receive $6,107,563 Read More
BusinessGMO Aphids to Battle Weeds? It’s Not as Far Fetch…
September 21, 2016
No, I am not talking about optimizing aphids for a global agricultural armageddon. That would be silly. I’m talking about Read More
Young Corn Field
Best PracticesNitrogen: The Key to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
September 20, 2016
Precision ag can play a key role in reducing agriculture’s impact on greenhouse gases by limiting the nitrogen rate. Read More
W. Wade Robey, Raven
Industry NewsRaven Adds New Director Of Engineering
September 19, 2016
W. Wade Robey, Ph.D., joined Raven Applied Technology in August 2016 as Director of Engineering. In this role, he leads Read More
Mitchell Technical Institute students with drone
IntegratorsMTI Precision Ag Students Use Drone Technology
September 19, 2016
After weeks of sitting in the classroom, several Mitchell Technical Institute students were able to spend a few hours outside Read More
BusinessOPINION: Climate Corp. is the Jewel in Bayer’s Monsanto…
September 15, 2016
PERSPECTIVE: Over the next few days and weeks in the ag media space the major players will examine this latest Read More
Sugarcane India
Market ImpactPlantations International Brings Precision Farming Tech…
September 14, 2016
Hong Kong-based plantation and farm management company Plantations International has announced it is moving its contact centre from the Indian Read More
Corn close up
Start-UpsLewis & Clark Ventures Raises $20 Million For Agric…
September 13, 2016
Lewis & Clark Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on Series A and B stage investments, has announced $20 million Read More
BusinessSentera Joins Forces With Another Drone Distributor
September 13, 2016
Sentera has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Dynamic UAV Solutions North America, LLC, a new distributor in the commercial Read More