CPS: A Paperless Trail
To a visitor, it’s clear that the Crop Production Services (CPS) facility in Washington Court House, OH, cares deeply about its surroundings. As with many other ag retailers located across the country, the company’s 36-acre outlet has many of its crop nutrient products within containment dikes, spill pads in its loading areas and items that are placed under unloading railroad cars to catch any accidental spills. However, CPS Washington Court House also has planted a host of hybrid poplar and willow trees near its catch basins to act as nature filters and reduce excess nutrients in the soil before the water is discharged to a nearby creek.
“Through this program, we have reserved large acres of our facility as our commitment to preserve green space,” says Steve Mossbarger, facility manager. “Hundreds of trees, grass strips and multi-tiered pans now share space with our fertilizer buildings, shop and gravel driveways. If you would ask residents of the community, I am sure that they would not only recognize our company’s name, but associate that name with well-maintained, modern equipment, having a professional application service and conducting business through environmentally friendly practices.”
Given this company mantra, it should come as no surprise that the quest to be more environmentally friendly extends to CPS Washington Court House’s technology business as well. In fact, according to Douglas Nace, precision ag specialist, the company has been utilizing various precision ag technologies in the field for more than a decade, to not only help its grower-customers save money, but increase their ability to aid in overall sustainable agriculture efforts. “This has been a very profitable endeavor, both for our clients and CPS,” says Nace.
While CPS Washington Court House’s precision programs in the field have been performing just fine in recent years, the in-office efforts have been another matter. Not long ago, Nace decided this part of the company’s business had to change.
“I started looking for a Web-based system for our dispatching and tracking precision ag efforts due to the fact that the desktop version the company was using was beginning to get overloaded,” he says. “It was rapidly getting to the point where we couldn’t keep up with our business growth and needed some other solution.”
When looking for this new system, Nace had only one basic requirement, simplicity. “Let’s face it , if technology is not easy to use, it’s not going to get used,” he says. “We were trying to refine our operations to make everything as automated as possible. A complicated program just wouldn’t cut it.”
Besides simplicity and keeping a better handle on its dispatching needs, Nace was also looking for a precision ag system that would allow its in-the-field personnel to do more with the data they were gathering. “The big trend in precision agriculture right now is having your field people gather information and feed it back to main office for analysis in a seamless way,” he says. “If you ask most industry experts, they will say that we’ve conquered basically everything else on the technology front except the integration of all the data that’s being collected. But it’s getting easier.”
After looking at several different system options, Nace decided that a pair of systems would work for CPS Washington Court House’s needs. The first was the AgLogic System from John Deere. In operation, AgLogic can handle scheduling and dispatching, serve as a fleet locator, facilitate automated data transfer and provide turn-by-turn directions for custom applicators to find their client fields. To operate, the system requires cellular coverage, Web access, mobile access and a tie-in to an agronomy system (either AgroGuide or Agvance).
At CPS Washington Court House right now, says Nace, the company is primarily using AgLogic for its dispatching needs.
The second system the company is working with is NutriScriptionHD from GVM Inc. According to its manufacturer, NutriScriptionHD (based upon the company’s AgJunction Link system) is a hardware/software package that simplifies the processing of collected field data to the office. The system will process and geo-spatially link collected planter, application and harvest information. Features of NutriScriptionHD include the ability to track mobile equipment and engine operation with an add-on, providing data summary reports emailed directly to the user, sending daily administrative summaries to managers via email and two-way file management, allowing users to upload files to NutriScriptionHD or download files out to their link unit.
The Paperless Quest
Thus far, Nace is happy with what CPS Washington Court House’s employees have been able to accomplish using NutriScriptionHD. “The system allows our salespeople to go ahead and decide on what kind of custom application services our customers need from wherever they are,” he says. “They can then forward that information back to our main office here and schedule what the grower-customer needs to have done, which not only makes for a smooth transition of data but cuts down on a lot of paperwork in the process.”
NutriScriptionHD has also made it easier for CPS Washington Court House to keep remote tabs on its application machinery from the office. “This system allows the office to send GPS application maps and work orders directly to the machine in the field to help ensure proper application rates and help verify the right field is being applied,” says Nace.
Besides helping to alleviate his previous dispatching headaches, Nace says using these Web-based programs has helped streamline CPS Washington Court House’s other precision ag offerings such as soil typing, tissue sampling and providing imagery. “This year using these systems, we are even able to make seed recommendations to growers using the collected data as a guide,” he says.
Best of all, using AgLogic and NutriScriptionHD has helped CPS Washington Court House continue with its quest to be more environmentally sound as well as profitable. “Now that we’ve been using them for a while, I think both of these systems are very good,” says Nace. “We have been trying to automate our whole facility, with everything we do being networked in some way. We are not totally paperless just yet, but using these systems and others around the outlet will eventually help us cut our total paper usage down by 75% or more.”