By Nathan Faleide - Ag Tech Advocate and Business Analysts
As most are aware at this point in time, there are a lot of Precision Ag and/or AgTech based systems being imagined and built. Beyond the ones that already have been built and have a base of customers, it seems there is a new group coming out every week somewhere in the world that is building some sort of Ag based technology product.
With all that being said, building some of these systems can be really hard seeing as many have to raise tons of money and must hire a lot of dedicated and smart people. One issue that seems to be prevalent is many of the solutions being built for Ag are being built by people who seem to have limited experience in Ag, especially the agronomic side of it.
This brings up a common problem that we at AgIntegrated have seen many times since we've been around for 15 years. Its that many startups or even older Ag groups that are building some sort of Agtech solution are having a tough time finding the expertise to build the basics to the system they want to build in the time and scope they want. That all while navigating through many of the OEM proprietary formats, connections, and updates.
The issue isn't from a lack of tech skills but it may be more of a lack of time combined with a difficulty of cross-connectivity and non-standardized methods related to many processes in Agriculture itself. Many that come into this industry with limited Ag knowledge unfortunately spend a great deal of time and resources to learn this the hard way. This is where we saw this huge gap in the industry and why we've tried to be at the fore-front of fixing and tackle this issue at its source, literally.
How it all started was learning these issues firsthand since AGI's first services were building custom Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS) for other clients. In building these services we learned that we were rebuilding the same processes over and over and it became redundant. We also found that there was a large issue with dealing with all the different proprietary formats from different OEMs out there. While there were a few groups helping with this situation, we felt it needed a fresh new scalable update with more modern distribution methods like via APIs. Also, with the constant changes from the OEMs we found the industry needed a more unified approach to dealing with these updates from a dedicated perspective.
All in all, it was decided to take on these issues head on and rethink the process while rebuilding the methods to not only handle proprietary data formats and standard data processes, but also help with other common protocols with standard methods instead of re-making the wheel every time over and over for others. So what happened is that we created a new suite of tools called Onsite that took on this common yet exceedingly complicated process since it seemed needed by many then and into the future. It just wasn't a sexy thing to build as some would put it.
In doing so, other groups started calling us to see if we could help them with these common yet complicated processes of translating data but also with the other tools that work with this data and even edit it. We happily obliged and became a sort of Ag agnostic group that helped many other groups in the rising Agtech and/or Precision Ag sector build the common processes they needed to succeed efficiently without re-building the same processes over and over. To say the least, many were very happy with not having to deal with this and fortunately we charged them much less than it would take them to build these things and integrate them themselves.
The realization that came to us was that in a world of constant competition in Precision Ag and new products being created that we could fill a specific niche to work with everyone. This was to create and manage the standard puzzle pieces most need for the Ag industry. Overall, we started to help others expand their roadmaps and development by working with our standard products and processes instead of developing it themselves since it would open up their time and resources to build the main pieces to their products that makes them unique.
What our main products accomplish are the core competencies many FMIS softwares need. These include what we call our FDAs or Field Data Adaptors distributed by APIs. From translating proprietary as-applied, as-planted, and yield data files to working with multiple soil labs, editing yield data, connecting with multiple cloud connections, and formatting prescription files to specific controllers. There are always other FDAs we are looking to create as well as distributing different imagery sources, irrigation connections, and other field sensors.
Beyond just the standard processes we developed and managed, there were entirely different sets of problems beyond our standard tools that bothered many. That was some just didn't have enough time and talent to build the in-between processes to their product line. Our custom development side of the business started to expand to help other groups fill in the gaps of their own production cycles. Many times it was just helping groups utilizing our products we just sold them since it was more timely for us and cost efficient for us to do so.
Now it is still pretty common for groups to want to build every process themselves and while that is normal to most, what we've found in the Ag industry is that it's a little more complicated in our corner of the world to do so. When you start dealing with direct Ag based data, the tides turn. That's where we have came in and helped in various ways. We can't say there are not plenty of others that are good at this, but it's something we've noticed is very much needed in this industry. It is the understanding that you can't always do it all, it's sometimes not worth it. Collaboration is sometimes a good thing.
In closing, the main message AgIntegrated believes in is at the core of our name and what we've done. Helping others in the industry integrate solutions that will help them. We all need to collaborate and learn to share information that is important to the real end client, the farmer. In the end, they are paying for it all anyway. This is how we will continue to progress and hopefully provide some of the standard processes needed, develop new ones wanted, and try to help others connect into this Agtech/Precision Ag industry.