October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months.
Probably chief among those being that, for both growers and the myriad ag retailers, independent consultants and many others striving to service today’s digital farmer, the current confluence of competing ag data software packages is quickly getting out of hand.
For example, one grower at Vision that works with some of the large multi-national food processors shared that his team uses over 20 different packages to collect, analyze, store and share farm data with the many stakeholders involved in his operation. Consider for a second that, simply managing the log-ins for that many packages — let alone having to enter all the field boundaries and other attributes for each individual field in each program — would be a collective nightmare. It would be like having 20 different Gmail accounts and having to remember the log-in credentials for each one. My ADHD-addled millennial noggin can barely remember my DirecTV log-in each month to get my cable bill paid.
Enter Trimble’s new Trimble Ag Software (TAS) mobile FMIS platform, announced by the Westminster, CO-based company November 7 at its annual Dimensions User Conference in Las Vegas. The new software package combines three previous Trimble offerings — Connected Farm, FarmWorks Software, and Agri-Data Solutions— into an all-in-one tool that Trimble says “offers customers a complete desktop, web-based and mobile-enabled agricultural software solution that simplifies farm data management” across all aspects of the production chain.
According to Trimble Agriculture Division enterprise solutions manager Ben Allen, the aforementioned over-saturation in the marketplace when it comes to software packages is exactly the issue Trimble is hoping TAS can solve.
“We’ve worked to provide holistic solutions that go end-to-end, are mobile enabled, and allow users of the technology to stay within a single tool, and to spend less time on their computers and more time with their key customers,” shares Allen from a suite at the Venetian during the final day of Dimensions. “For over two decades ag tech companies have been asking farmers to spend more time on computers and their response has been a fairly unanimous, ‘No.’”
On the dealer/ag retail side of things, Allen agrees that the main target goal for TAS is to become the ag service provider’s one-stop shop for all digital farming activities. Along those lines, Trimble is also launching a new tool for variable-rate prescription generation.
“We are also announcing the release of our Prescription Engine product, which is a single workflow software product that allows professional advisors to stay in the same tool to do their management zone creation, zone editing, crop scouting, and managing soil and tissue lab data, along with providing the machine files necessary to deliver variable-rate recommendations, and then also capture that as-applied information (for reporting purposes),” Allen adds.
Along with Prescription Engine, Allen says Trimble is also releasing various modules within TAS for the different channels that participate in the food production system, making the sharing of as-applied data for food traceability or regulatory reporting a more seamless process.
“We have specific modules for food processors that tend to focus on compliance and traceability,” he explains. “Specific modules for ag retailers that focus on inventory management and customer relationship management and the in-season services that are necessary to understand how to best take care of the crops as they’re growing in the field. Special modules for advisors, that as you’ve said are using entirely too many different software solutions to deliver their services today, and special services for the farmer as well.
“And this approach, to be able to connect the different users of data seamlessly, is something that we are uniquely positioned to provide.”
Also available are modules to manage aerial imagery, but probably most important from a TAS standpoint is the mobile computing power the new platform pledges to provide its users.
“Farmers live a very mobile life; they’re busy,” Allen says. “They’re in and out of trucks and tractors all day, moving fuel and different supplies around, and in order to really serve them with technology you have to align yourself with that mobile life. Again, the ability to stay in a single tool to deliver the required services and data analytics, and to do it mobile-enabled and in real time is viable to help scale service offerings as a dealer. Bottom line, we’re striving to be the tool that enables success for those service providers.”