Planting Seeds in Iowa

This marks Week One of the Cultivo Global Ag Innovation Program, and AgriDigital is proud to be in the first cohort. Cultivo was designed to launch international agricultural companies in the great agricultural state of Iowa. As AgriDigital's Vice President for Growth and Business Development in North America, I have the privilege of being our primary participant in the program. 

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We see the opportunity to grow AgriDigital's United States (U.S. business from sea to shining sea. And we have great humility about what this takes. Expanding an international company into the U.S. is a complex undertaking—  and social distancing is a significant complication. Cultivo provides AgriDigital the opportunity to walk side by side (virtually) with peers in this journey. We are appreciative of practical knowledge and tools we will gain, and the ability to connect deeply into the Iowa agricultural community —  even from a Covid-enforced distance. And I thoroughly appreciate receiving a (miniature) John Deere tractor of my own in our welcome box!

Each day I am motivated by the abundant opportunity AgriDigital has in the U.S., by how clearly our Waypath harvest and inventory management app helps U.S. farmers gain efficiency, accuracy and become more profitable. As one illustration, a customer recently shared with me how by using Waypath on his phone he took advantage of soaring grain prices to make a last-minute sale. He was able to do this because he knew precisely what he had left in inventory—  even though he was 1,000 miles from his grain bins. This story is just one data point underscoring how managing inventory from field to point of sale— and always having reliable inventory data— is a must for farmers to capture the full value of their hard work. (Dig further into this conversation on how leading farmers are using their data in this video podcast).

The Cultivo program is right on time for AgriDigital as we grow in the U.S., in spite of the complications Covid creates. To say we have all learned a great deal about navigating the unexpected and connecting virtually over the past 13 months is an understatement. From my work with food and agricultural entrepreneurs before joining AgriDigital, I know just how critical the ability to fuse strategy with responsiveness to circumstances is to business success. Suffice it to say, adaptability is muscle we're all building every day as Covid continues to impact our lives and work. 

We are all adapting to the times using the tools at our disposal. Zoom, for all the jokes and frustrations it provokes, is a wondrous thing. I am bowled over by the ability to have high trust and high performance relationships with our team in Australia and the Philippines, as well as collaborators across the U.S., all through video. Welcoming the first Cultivo cohort via Zoom was not the original program vision. Nevertheless, the Cultivo team has already proven their dedication to relationship building and knowledge sharing in spite of the circumstances. Even before starting the program, we have had the pleasure of working with Landus Cooperative, Eide Bailly via Cultivo introductions.

What do I most hope for from this experience for AgriDigital? Durable relationships with the Cultivo team, our peers in the program, and with the partners in Iowa we have yet to meet. We are looking forward to partnering with Iowa agribusiness, the research teams at Iowa State, farmers, and farming networks to roll up our sleeves creating efficiencies and connections across grain supply chains together.

It is a fast-moving time in U.S. agriculture with proposed policy changes, new markets for carbon, cover crops, and identity preserved commodities sprouting up fast and furiously. As I have regular conversations with the movers and shakers in Iowa (here's looking at you Continuum Ag, Trader PhD, Global Ag Network, the list goes on) I welcome this deep dive into a state that fuses agricultural traditions with innovation. (For a fantastic conversation merging the farmer perspective with a deep dive on policy change, I recommend FieldWork's conversation with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack—  another Iowan). 

Yes, I can not wait to meet all of our Iowa collaborators in person when circumstances allow —  there is nothing better than an in-person conversation. For now, I am appreciative AgriDigital can plant seeds in Iowa this season alongside our peers and together keep building the muscle of adaptability. 

We have 6 weeks of the Cultivo program ahead of us. I'll report back on what we learn, who we meet, and our highlights. For now, here's to a successful planting season!