Farmer John Chester likes to compare keeping tabs on his crops to caring for his children.
“If my son or daughter is starting to feel ill, the quicker I can help them the better,” he says. “It’s the same thing with my crops. The quicker I can provide a nutrient that it needs, the better the yield.”
Chester, who manages Fowler Farms in Martin, Tenn., says real-time ag technology data through WinField United’s R7® Field Forecasting Tools helps keep him on top of the needs for the corn, soybeans and wheat grown on the farm’s 5,800 acres. The tool helps farmers better predict the outcomes when it comes to in-season water, nitrogen and potassium management decisions.
“Everything we do on our farm is becoming contingent on the data that we can collect, and being able to see that data quickly,” he says.
WinField United is continually strengthening its ag tech capabilities, as part of a comprehensive e-business strategy, to provide a research-based approach to help farmers with field-level insights and data-backed solutions.
WinField United’s efforts focus on leveraging investments and customizing solutions to help each farmer’s operation. The following are the data and insight tools that work together to help farmers make more informed—and profitable—decisions.
Answer Plot®, which began 20 years ago, is data-driven crop research replicated in real farming conditions in nearly 200 locations around the U.S. That local, regional and national replication has generated more than 6 million data points, and each data point has been statistically ana-lyzed to deliver reliable, consistent insights to improve farm profitability.
The R7® Tool is a decision ag solution that provides unbiased product performance information and critical field data. It uses satellite imagery and soil maps to reveal field variability. Through Answer Plot data, the tool shows how hybrids and varieties respond to cropping systems and management factors in similar conditions.
The R7® Field Forecasting Tool can adapt to the timing and volume of various inputs, in addition to the weather forecast, to better assist in meeting profitable yield goals. Additionally, it also helps farmers look back at the prior season and pinpoint the decisions or events that had the most significant impact on yield.
Answer Tech® is an insights delivery system that provides critical technology information and access to top agronomic decision-support management apps, in one location. This centralized portal provides education, product reviews, industry insights, and access to all WinField United proprietary and partnered apps.
NutriSolutions is a plant nutrition management program that uses tissue and soil testing to optimize crop nutrition and performance from the start of the season through harvest. A Nutri-Solutions Report addresses which nutrient levels to address, and which to ignore.
Joel Wipperfurth, director of ag technology for WinField United, describes the company’s efforts as sort of a “20-year-old startup” thanks to the strong foundation of data collected over the past two decades through the Answer Plot system.
“That’s a fundamental difference in what you see today in the software space, where oth-er companies start with the software and then try to backtrack into finding the data or creating their own data source,” he says. “Imagine a startup in ag technology that built their database for 20 years before they brought their software product to market. That’s us.”
Wipperfurth says WinField United’s ag technology tools are “prescriptively specific” on what a farmer needs to do in-season to have a successful growing season. In 2011, the Answer Plot data merged with satellite imagery into the R7 Tool. From there, WinField United was able to geotag a tissue sample in the field using a smartphone.
“Now all of a sudden, we have an in-season measurement of how that plant was doing and what nutrients it was deficient in,” he says. “We continued to innovate in spaces like using sensors in the An-swer Plot whereby we started to measure temperature, humidity, ground temperature at different depths, moisture, rainfall, sunlight. We were able to take that data and put it into the Field Forecasting Tool.”
While other digital platforms focus on getting the order, he says WinField United concentrates first on the recommendation so sellers can help farmers make the right decision buy what they need. Wipper-furth tells of listening to an ag tech competitor talk about spending six months getting their company’s ordering system right.
“You spent six months doing the order system, making sure customers don’t bounce off your page when they go there,” Wipperfurth thought. “We spent 20 years building this value proposition toward making the recommendations which gives us the right for the seller to earn the order with their grow-ers.”
Andrew Laney, senior technology lead for WinField United based in Nashville, seconded Chester’s comparison of crops to children. He takes it one step further, to illustrate the ag technology WinField United provides.
“A 7-year-old needs different nutrients than a 17-year-old or a 57-year-old,” he says. “Corn plants need different types of nutrients early on just like a smaller child needs calcium. It’s about getting the right nutrients at the right time.”
Keep an eye out for more stories in the coming months that look into how these ag tech tools come together with modern websites, marketing tools and ordering sites, all in partnership with our retail owners, to provide more than just an online shopping cart when it comes to e-business.