Climate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag

CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s acquisition of farm software management company VitalFields, based in Tallinn, Estonia.

Mike Stern
Mike Stern, CEO, The Climate Corporation

Why this company, VitalFields? How different is it from what The Climate Corp. offers?
First of all, Vitalfields has developed a software application for farmers in Eastern and Western Europe to help manage their information regarding compliance for government regulation. In Europe a large percentage of the subsidies that are provided back to growers are linked to compliance and the submission of information regarding activities in the field. So for instance, what I planted, how much fertilizer did I put it down and when did I put it down, what kind of crop protection chemicals did I spray and how much – those types of things. Growers need to keep track of all this, and what VitalFields has developed is a very nice digital tool that allows keep all this information together digitally and then generate reports that can be easily submitted to the various regulatory agencies. These vary from country to country across Europe. That’s essentially their core product. These subsidies account for tens of billions of dollars of farm income, so it’s a big deal for farmers. That’s why they focused on this particular area.

For us, we see this is as very complementary to what we do at Climate Corp. and as an entrée for us to get into Europe. We would look at the VitalFields tool as another vertical for us around our digital ag platform. What we’re trying to do at Climate is bring simplicity to digital tools to growers that allow them to go ahead and manage their entire operation, drive yield and productivity, help them manage risk, and be more sustainable. Of course, in Europe, this compliance piece is very important, so we look at VitalFields as another vertical that would go along with our Climate FieldView Plus and Drive, which is all about aggregating data, and Pro, which is our agronomic advisors.

There are two other elements of the deal that are strategically important. First, most of the smaller digital ag companies struggle with access to get in front of growers. In the U.S., Brazil, and Canada, we’re leveraging Monsanto’s sales team and distribution relationships in order to go ahead and bring these tools to growers so they can choose if they’d like to participate in what we’re offering. We’re going to be able to do the same thing in Europe. By working closely across Monsanto with our distribution, we’re going to be able to get these VitalFields tools in front of growers at a much more rapid pace and scale than they’ve been able to do themselves.

The second piece is linking to ClimateView Plus and Drive, which we will be beta testing in Europe this spring. That automates the activities of growers in the fields: planting, spraying, fertility, harvest. We can now use FieldView Plus and bring that together with the VitalFields tool where data entry – this whole keeping track of what is going on the fields – can be completely digitized and automated between the two apps. That is the strategy behind the deal.

The ClimateView product has no parallel, then, to the data entry tool in the U.S.?
Correct. ClimateView does not have a vertical that is specifically designed around compliance. This is a very unique thing right now to Europe. But, we see that this tool could be expanded to other geographies as regulations change. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this tool be valuable for American farmers sometime in the future.

Is Europe ahead in precision ag?
Around the presence of digital agriculture, I would say that there is probably more investment and start-up in the U.S. than in Europe.

It’s early days in Europe, just like it’s early days in the U.S. and other geographies. There are lots and lots of offerings – the market is very fragmented. What we’re trying to do is bring everything into one place to make it simple for the grower, to capture what’s going on their farm digitally, allowing them to visualize, do analytics on that information, and for us to be able to work with them to help them make proactive decisions to drive yield and productivity. We want to bring it all together. That’s really our focus at Climate.

One complaint we’ve heard is that growers often will get this technology but then not quite know how to use it, and the retailer won’t either. What will retailer support be like both here and with the addition of this new tool?
There is no doubt, these are new tools. I think about digital ag in particular what we’re doing at Climate with this next wave of innovation in agriculture. These are software tools. This is not the next hybrid, the next variety, or the next new crop chemical, of which there is a lot of intuition, knowledge and history in agriculture around these types of products. We’ve definitely seen that training very important, and we’ve made a significant investment in that. How do you help both retailers as well as growers get up to speed on the technology? It takes a little bit of time. So I think that’s probably a fair statement: It’s one thing to have the tool; it’s another thing to begin to understand how to use it. That’s a key focus at Climate and a big area of investment for us.

Can you expand on what kinds of things you’ll be doing to support the retailers in the coming year?
We have invested in a whole group of folks that we’re bringing on board that are 100-percent focused on training. They will be entering the process of doing this right now – having dealer meetings, having farmer meetings, working with distribution to have their sellers and agronomists come in to get trained on tool, as well as farmer meetings to do the same thing. We’ve invested in feet on ground for these training specialists across the U.S. This is really kind of, ‘Hey, how do you get out and get the right people in the room?’ It’s retailer-by-retailer and grower meeting-by-grower meeting right now.

Read the full story on AgriBusinessGlobal.com.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

EquipmentWhat Does FBN’s Latest Attempt At Disintermediation Really Mean For Ag Retailers?
February 6, 2017
When Farmer’s Business Network (FBN), the Silicon Valley-based ag data startup that promises to leverage all kinds of on-farm data Read More
Farmobile Dashboard Heat Map
Precision AgFarmobile’s EFR Dashboard Brings Real-Time Metrics To The Coffee Table
January 1, 2017
Farmobile is one of many data start-ups that we’ve been closely observing with a sense of keen curiosity since they Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
AGCO AgControl system
Precision AgPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
November 28, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Latest News
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More
ManagementUpdates on Upcoming Trips, Dow-DuPont, and the Des Moin…
February 9, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review a few future travels, along with the latest on big company mergers and Read More
Championship Tractor Pull
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Highlighted By Championshi…
February 9, 2017
The scream of monster engines, the stench of burning rubber and the ground-pounding vibrations of the country’s largest, loudest and Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
Corn Field
InsecticidesArysta LifeScience, DuPont Collaborate On Rynaxpyr Prem…
February 8, 2017
Arysta LifeScience recently announced that it has entered into a global collaboration with DuPont Crop Protection for the development of Read More
Industry NewsThe Fertilizer Institute Board Elects New Chairman, Vic…
February 8, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) Board of Directors has elected Chuck Magro, President and CEO of Agrium, and Tony Will, President Read More
Sonny Perdue
ManagementARA Joins More Than 600 Organizations In Support Of Per…
February 8, 2017
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recently joined with more than 600 agricultural groups on a letter of support for Governor Read More
World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit Panel 2016
Crop InputsWorld Agri-Tech Innovation Summit To Be Held In San Fra…
February 8, 2017
“Breakthrough Applications and Business Models for Sustainable Farming” is the theme of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit to be held Read More
Cedar Country Cooperative
Eric SfiligojConsolidation In Agriculture: More Middle Movement
February 7, 2017
If you’ve regularly followed my column, you know I’m something of a movie junkie. Like many, one of my favorite Read More