You’ve heard the buzz about agtech, but how do you ensure that you can get a return on the investment you make in onboarding agtech on your farm?
As a simple definition for agtech is any technology - hardware and software - that has been created specifically for farming, agriculture, agribusiness and supply chain management. There is a lot of choice out there and whilst some products are no doubt better than others, there are three key ways you can get the most out of your technology investment no matter which product you choose.
1. Track profitability and make better business decisions
Agtech is increasingly becoming a farmer’s trusted advisor when it comes to business decision making. Digitizing your key farm data and storing it in the cloud is a game changer when it comes to making more informed operational decisions.
Farmers have been collecting farm data for centuries. Today’s cloud based and digital technologies mean information is no longer stored in just one person’s head or in a notebook or filing cabinet. By swapping pen and paper for digital record keeping, farmers are armed with data, reporting and analysis that can be accessed anytime, anywhere and by anyone who has the permission to do so. But more than this, data can now be easily analysed, modelled and benchmarked. With improved visibility over trends and historical data, farmers can identify patterns, review field, yield, input, pricing, inventory data and more. The best technologies are also helping users by creating insights and building in predictions around key events focussed on increasing profitability, optimising core activities, and ensuring regulatory compliance.
There’s no need for second guessing when data is recorded digitally, plus information can be shared with and accessed by those who need it - from farm managers, to contractors and consultants such as agronomists and accountants. Providing these stakeholders with a ‘view’ into the business equips them to do their job better and ultimately enables farmers to get more bang for their buck from their advisors.
2. Streamline and automate workflows
Here’s a familiar scenario: you are in the thick of harvest; there are trucks coming and going at all hours of the day and paper delivery tickets, warehouse receipts and contracts flying around the office. Some agtech companies are focussed on helping farmers reduce the chaos and regain control by streamlining data entry, automating workflows and simplifying processes.
Take Mike Sullivan from Sullivan Family Ag who implemented AgriDigital’s Waypath platform across his extensive grain farming operation in Arkansas, United States. Acting as a single source of truth for all grain contracts, deliveries, storage, payments and invoices, data is entered into Waypath once and syncs immediately across the platform, so that all users, from truck drivers, to weighbridge operators and office managers are working with the same information in real time.
“Harvest is always such a busy time of year, but with Waypath we noticed a difference straight away, says Mike. “There’s no need for pen and paper - load weight and quality information is collected automatically on delivery via the weighbridge integration. On top of that, once moisture is calculated, shrink is auto-applied. There’s a whole heap of time saved right there”.
Implementing Waypath as part of the Sullivan Family Ag tech stack also meant Mike could take advantage of integrations with other technology products and on farm infrastructure, like his weighbridge, so data is shared seamlessly. This saves time on data entry, avoids data duplication and reduces errors. Integrations can also enable comprehensive reporting and deeper analysis across all aspects of the farm business from accounting, agronomy and harvest management.
On top of improving on farm and back office efficiency, with digital technologies farmers can feel confident their data is secure by managing team member access via different levels of user or team permissions. Plus digital audit trails mean you can see which user completed a transaction, edited, deleted or accessed data. During peak times, many farmers use casual or contractor staff so this level of visibility and control over who sees or can do what (user permissions) can be very useful, not only to ensure data integrity but also to identify where certain team members might need more training so mistakes are reduced.
3. Future proof your business
Finally, in farming, as in every industry, it’s imperative to focus on the future in order for a business to have the best possible chance to survive and thrive. By investing in agtech now, many farmers are building their technology familiarity and capability; they are preparing themselves and their farm for a digital and connected future. Today’s technologies are mostly helping farmers to optimize and analyze what they have already done, but in the future we will be using technology to drive our farming and business activities and even to make decisions.
When farmers adopt new technologies, the advantages can be significant. Early adoption creates a culture of proactive innovation. Instead of being forced to change early adopters realize the benefits of technology earlier and over a longer period of time than the rest of us. In fact, recent economic modelling by AlphaBeta Advisors concluded that ‘internet enabled tools could lift the value of farm production by $15billion or 20%.’
By being at the forefront of technology adoption in agriculture, farmers have the opportunity to influence its development by working closely with the companies building the products. This involvement speeds up product development and lowers the cost of bringing a product to market.
A study by Harvard Business Review found that early adopters experience ‘first mover advantages’ over their competition. By becoming an early tech adopter, ‘organizations experience high growth in revenue and market position . . . ‘the growth of early adopters is more than twice the growth experienced by companies identified as technology ‘followers’ (the early mainstream market) and three times the growth experienced by cautious tech adopters (the late adopting mainstream market).’ Overall, early adoption leads to better business outcomes.
Whilst implementing agtech may seem costly and time consuming at the outset, by focussing on profitability, or workflow automation or future proofing; or indeed all three areas, agtech can improve your farm business today and be a driver for tomorrow’s growth.
Find out more about how AgriDigital's Waypath has been purpose built for farmers to deliver immediate value.
Explore how Waypath makes farmers' lives easier in our Case Study - Sullivan Family Ag