By: Billy Tiller Founder/CEO GISC
How often is the question asked, “Is it possible to get unbiased information in the world of agriculture today?” Many digital decision-making tools are owned by Big Ag, so the answer seems to be–NO. If the source is not Big Ag, then it usually involves a Silicon Valley startup. As a farmer, I am finding it hard to know which companies I should trust for objective solutions. Where does one turn to for these answers anymore?
Yesterday of Extension
Historically, unbiased ag information was provided by Land Grant Universities through Ag Extension. I have respect for our Ag Extension and what they are trying to accomplish. It is a shame they are so underfunded today, because they have been such a stellar source of independent trials and information in years past. I am old enough, that when I started farming, I can remember looking through printed seed trial reports on cotton yields in the early 1980s. I applaud the Extension Agent for trying to continue to deliver something to farmers while being tasked with delivering information for gardens, lawns, and operating the County 4-H. A daunting task in my opinion in a complicated world of fast moving digital ag where growers need to be educated on user agreements, privacy agreements, and the collection of high quality data to name a few current issues.
Tech Market Saturation
Farmers are living in a flux of Ag Tech fatigue and are not sure what is the right strategy to take. “When the number of Ag Tech companies outnumber corn hybrids on the market then yes, we have a problem” (thank you Steve Pitstick @PitstickFarms). How does a farmer choose when many of these companies have overpromised and underdelivered? The companies that show any sign of delivering an independent solution tend to sell out to larger corporations–Agrible is the latest example as it is acquired by Nutrien for $63M. I can’t blame the founders or investors for selling their idea for a size-able amount, but that brings to light the fact the farmer is being left without any unbiased information options. What options do we have now?
The GiSC Option
GiSC is dedicated to helping farmers navigate this journey. We have a starter kit to launch into digital ag technology, which more importantly helps to develop an independent data strategy—meaning your seed, chemical, and fertilizer decisions are independent from your ag data tools. As the farmer, you still rely on your local, independent agronomist to deliver (digital) recommendations and your local partners to supply the inputs. We are only about DATA, so are our foundational partners, who were handpicked and share the same vision as us. We think that is a data strategy of Independence.
In addition, we have developed tools for data collection from your desk and dirt. These are respectively known as PaperRoute and AgHub. PaperRoute will organize the mountains of paper that sit on the dash of pickups or on the tops of desks. This is a document and file management tool that has an auto-routing feature based on a member’s aghub.coop email. This is a great tool where the member is given an email address that is strictly for data collection. This is an idea GiSC thinks will revolutionize the movement of paper documents, really any file within agriculture. We were fortunate to have this powered by Conarc. The data from the dirt is collected via AgHub, where GiSC provides its members with a tool developed by farmers to collect the basic elements in the crop production cycle. The map-based user interface is simple to use and has some great drawing tools since it is built by farmers for farmers, we give you the ability to collect the basic elements without drawing a single line in most cases. Our data elements refer to data points such as planting date, crop type, seed variety, fertilizer type, fertilizer amount, fertilizer timing, herbicides applied, and AgHub will be the replacement for your notebook in your pocket if you get the drift.
National Crop Registry-Coming Soon
Speaking of drift, we plan to tackle the problem of what crops are planted around the grower. Yes, it is always a question of what crops, and crops with traits are joining my fields. GiSC, because of member’s requests, is going to launch the National Crop Registry to create a digital solution to understand what joins my farm to help with chemical spray operations. We are neck deep in trying to help neighbors be good neighbors. We can help by letting our members have the information of other members if everyone agrees to share the “Neighbor Layer”. The Neighbor Layer is defined as fields that physically touch your field and all you can see of the adjacent fields is what crops and crop varieties are planted in the field because this a way to understand the seed traits. These are elements that need to be shared to operate efficiently and effectively.
The leadership of GiSC has decided that to collect and store data is a start to data Independence, but it is only a partial solution. GiSC members need more, and it is analytics. We want to analyze what practices are working on the farm, what digital tools are really providing the farmer a return, and where is the real return on our member’s time. We have turned to our data partners of Main Street Data (MSD) and IBM. MSD has the most pristine yield data set for corn and soybeans on the planet today and to see the capabilities that they bring to GiSC. Validator
IBM, is a technology titan which owns The Weather Company and its cognitive solutions are driven by the well-recognized Watson. They will serve up to GiSC members the best weather forecasts and modeling available. In addition, IBM will work closely with MSD to correlate the collected basic elements in AgHub to yield data and try to provide the answers we have always dreamed of understanding and at light-speed. No more years of replicated trials to understand what the best practices are in your field, what will return a profit, and all with the ability of this unique partnership to create solutions independent of selling me inputs.
Time for Independence is Now
It is time for farmers to have options that are built on objective motives and without a reason to sell the farmer a product produced by the same Big Ag company that is providing the farmer the analysis. Big Ag cares about me, yes, they do, but they care about their shareholders more. This is how it should be as we live in a world built on capitalism and I am tired of just complaining. Independence is a strategy of data and analysis that provides me what I need. Join GiSC today and capitalize on the company that cares about you because, “YOU OWN THE PLACE”!! GiSC can help you level the playing field and put you in the driver’s seat. A membership is simply, $500, but will bring you a game changing data strategy that is truly INDEPENDENCE.