Standardizing Agriculture: Easing The ‘Pain Points’

GreenStar Rate Controller | John Deere

AgGateway, the organization that is facilitating the creation of data standards across all aspects of agriculture from feed and grain to crop nutrition and crop protection, has been making tremendous strides in recent months by focusing on key compatibility “pain points” for ag retailers.

In particular, councils within the group focused on seed sales and distribution and precision agriculture have made progress, and a council comprised of and dedicated specifically to issues within ag retailing have set a solid foundation and a course forward.

The councils are comprised of stakeholder companies in agriculture who have joined AgGateway specifically to engage in the standards creation process. The leadership of AgGateway fills a facilitation role, providing resources that guide the agendas, help set priorities and keep the process moving forward ensuring industrywide consistency. It also helps members to implement the standards.

Over the last 18 months, three councils facilitated by AgGateway — Precision Ag, Ag Retail, and most recently, the Seed Council — are of particular interest to the agricultural retailing community and are rapidly gaining traction.

“Ag retailers are facing significant economic, regulatory, and operational challenges resulting from the many changes that are taking place in agriculture,” says Rod Conner, president and CEO of AgGateway. “They aren’t looking to AgGateway to solve their problems, but to provide them and their software developers with proven industry tools that will help them deal with ever-increasing complexity and demands for information.”

Seeding Efficiency

The latest  project of the Seed Council, Seed Connectivity II, had its kickoff meeting in January. It follows up on the first seed connectivity project, which established the standards, guidelines and processes for the ship notification, invoice, product price sheets and grower sales reporting.  The first phase of Seed Connectivity II will focus on extending the connectivity to a broader industry base, creating a repeatable process of what was developed from the first seed connectivity project, says Conner.

Once fully implemented, this project will help to eliminate the routine manual process of the administrative paperwork and phone calls, so that companies can reallocate those resources to focus on customer service. This should result in lower operating costs and more revenue from the strengthened relationships with trading partners.

“Because of the high volume of transactions in the seed industry, most companies are struggling with ways to manage inventory, to mitigate lost or mistaken shipment and expedite the delivery, pickup, and return of seed during the busy time of the year,” says Conner. “Moving to electronic processing of normal business processes will lessen or alleviate many of these struggles.”

A number of non-integrated retailers have gotten involved on the ground floor of Seed Connectivity II because they see tremendous potential for gains in efficiency. Brian Bailey, chief financial officer for Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, got involved in the project because of the significant inefficiencies he experiences in the seed ordering process.

“Right now for example, we order seed from Monsanto using an item number and seed variety identification,” says Bailey. “When we receive a bill from Winfield Solutions, it might come back with a different product description, a different product number, and sometimes even a different unit of measurement. We really need a system that is common throughout the sales process.”

Ultimately, the process will be made fully electronic from order to fulfillment to virtually eliminate the potential for human error.

Members of Seed Connectivity II project have committed to weekly conference calls to keep the process moving forward. Many of the key players are at the table, says Bailey, and he hopes that the progress that Seed Connectivity II makes will lure in additional companies as the project gains traction. He also feels that the success of this project could help clear the way for supply chain standardization work in other areas, such as crop nutrition.

Coming Into The Fold

The benefits of relieving the operational pain points are not limited to the large and deeply resourced regional and national retail organizations, but participation in industry groups like AgGateway have historically been weighted toward fully integrated retailers simply because of the issues of time and resourcing. The recently formed Ag Retail council of AgGateway is working to alleviate the discrepancy and get non-integrated retailers — smaller to medium sized, localized or closely regionalized businesses — more fully engaged in the process.

At its meeting on January 31, the Ag Retail Council identified three key goals for itself in 2012. It committed to participating in the Seed Connectivity II project, identifying other existing projects that its members would support and participate in, and identifying three leading “pain points” retailers experience related to doing business with suppliers, distributors and growers. There were 21 individuals represented, including nine people representing retailers.

Two days later, a working group comprised of non-integrated retailers held a meeting that served to firm up their commitment to the process. Each retail entity committed to providing one or two individuals to get fully engaged in the Seed Connectivity II project. This led naturally to a discussion of the pain points in the seed ordering and sales process.

“We identified not only external challenges but also internal challenges,” says Brian Gates, IS manager at Key Cooperative and chair of the Ag Retail Council. “Some of these challenges can be solved with industry changes and others are internal process challenges that we need to solve ourselves,” he says.

The next step is consolidating the Council’s message to take to the other councils. With the non-integrated retailer members actively participating in the SCII project, it adds to the credibility of the Council’s message, says Gates. “We want to be active in being part of the solution,” he says. “It isn’t just up to our trading partners to solve our pain points but rather our willingness and ability to change together.”

Finally, within the Precision Ag Council, work is also continuing on precision agriculture standards with the development of a Precision Ag glossary of terms.

“Standardization in precision ag is long overdue,” says Conner. “We all expected that by 2012 there would be a high level of adoption of precision ag technologies, so it’s clear that lack of standardization across the industry has been one of the inhibitors of adoption. It’s exciting to see the major players in this space come together to work out common standards. The results will have a major positive impact on growers that use the technology.”

Industry support for this segment has been outstanding, says Conner, including the active involvement of most of the major precision ag companies in the council.

To learn more about AgGateway or to find out how to get involved, visit www.aggateway.org or contact Rod Conner at rod.conner@aggateway.org. The main office is reachable by phone at 202-742-5967.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

Precision AgUAVs To Take Flight At 2015 Farm Science Review
August 14, 2015
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have taken the agriculture industry by storm and will soon be Read More
Crop InputsFSR Agronomy College Aims To Keep Agronomic Professionals Sharp
August 11, 2015
From watching for insects and diseases, to carefully applying chemicals and curtailing runoff, to keeping up with ever advancing technology, Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
Topcon AGI-4 on MF Planter
EquipmentAutosteer: Compatibility, Accuracy Remain Top Of Mind
July 3, 2015
The world of automatic steering solutions in agriculture has evolved rapidly in the last few years. From after-market add-ons that Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s ch…
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulati…
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Comments On Monsanto Announcement
August 26, 2015
The Board of Syngenta confirms that it received a verbal proposal from Monsanto to acquire the company at a price Read More
Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer
EquipmentHigh-powered Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer Pushes Throug…
August 26, 2015
Engineered with more muscle, the new 660-gallon-capacity Patriot 2250 sprayer features best-in-class horsepower, along with the fuel efficiency that comes Read More
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Eric SfiligojPrecision Ag Could Shine In Increased Spotlight On Agri…
August 24, 2015
By any measure, 2015 is turning into one of the most challenging years agriculture has ever experienced. All throughout good Read More
ManagementCrop Conditions In Minnesota and Traveling Time
August 21, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiilgoj discuss the crop outlook from a field trip to Minnesota and upcoming travel plans. Read More