Blending Gets Better

Kahler Automation control system

Last year’s drop in fertilizer use could have been detrimental to software companies; instead, dealers took the opportunity to make their businesses better.

“Our dealers continue to look for ways to lower operating costs and be more efficient,” explains Judy Warf, communications coordinator, Software Solutions Integrated (SSI).

Organizations have grown due to mergers and acquisitions, Warf says, and to effectively manage that growth, retailers need the ability to integrate their blending operation into the sales process and business flow.

“Accessing real-time inventories and accounts receivable, connecting with automated blenders, and implementing logistic tools to improve communications between dispatchers and applicators is giving dealers more opportunities than ever to work more efficiently, improve ROI, and maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace,” Warf says.

When agronomy sales did not follow normal trends last year, some ag retailers were caught with high-priced inventory, says Keith Bangasser, product development manager, E-Markets. “Ag retailers did not have adequate business information systems to match sales projections to inventory purchases,” he explains, describing an increased need for “improved agronomy sales management and up-to-the-minute inventory information.”

Dave Junge, president, Junge Control, says: “When inputs are so expensive, it’s more important to be accurate. Customers that think that way have a desire to be agronomically perfect. Others don’t think that way; they think, ‘We’re losing money, so we’re not going to spend any money.’

“So many people don’t exercise until they have the heart attack,” he continues, adding that last year, more people thought: “‘Something’s gone wrong, we’re losing a little money — let’s do something to fix this.'”

Automating Perfection

Software plays many roles beyond ensuring the accuracy of mixing and blending. Part of the adjustment is keeping up with changing industry needs.

“Software has played an integral part for multi-site fertilizer dealers looking for a more centralized approach to their blending operations,” says Warf, explaining that such dealers are purchasing a higher percentage of their seasonal needs in advance, resulting in longer lead times and the centralization of inventories, facilities, and equipment. “The ability to blend and distribute higher volumes of product to a larger territory requires software to effectively track sales and margins of inter-company activity along with blending for third-party companies.”

Bangasser agrees. “Blending software linked to ‘across the company’ order systems are critical for centralized blend plant operations,” he says. “These systems create efficiencies, increase accuracy, and allow for reports to be generated detailing the transactions.”

Recordkeeping is vital for keeping track of who did what, when, and where. Managing such details by hand increases the margin for error, and the possibility of losing important documents is too risky.

“If we made some fertilizer or chemicals for a truck, there’s a record that goes along with it that we save in case something’s wrong,” says Junge. “Or we export it back to an accounting system. Those records are very important.”

It’s also safer for employees, Junge adds. “There’s less shrink; they make fewer mistakes – they just make more money, because they’re better,” he says. “If something’s wrong in a certain spot, we know it from the yield monitors. If they forgot to put nitrogen in one of the loads of fertilizer, that’s going to stick out like a sore thumb. We’re beginning to see so much uniformity in our yields as farmers that a mistake will be found agronomically. Your inputs had better be right.”

“Blending software must link to both ag retail business software and crop planning software,” says Clyde Martin, president, AgWorks. “In the future, blend orders will be generated directly from crop plans, [which] will flow directly to order cues for blending and application at centralized facilities.”

Getting Smarter

Not only do software systems make fertilizer businesses more accurate, but they make work easier, as well. Junge Control’s touch screens, for example, have increased ease of use so almost anyone can use them.

“I’d have thought pretty much everyone on the planet would have been mouse and keyboard savvy by now, but they’re not,” says Junge. “That touchscreen — well, everyone can run an ATM.”

According to Warf, the next generation of Agvance will leverage the latest mobile technologies and the power of the Internet. Retailers are using sophisticated automated equipment used to blend both dry and liquid products.

“Most of these systems can communicate with the blending software so that work orders entered in the office are automatically sent to the blender and the adjusted quantities sent back for accurate inventory updates and invoicing,” he says. “Inefficient, smaller plants can be replaced with those that service larger areas and maximize the use of custom application equipment.”

New SSI software, Agvance 5.0, is due out later this year “with a new look and host of new features throughout all of the integrated products,” Warf says. “There will also be several new modules introduced that will integrate with our popular Agvance Blending and Dispatch modules.”

AgWorks’ newest offering is a hand-tool that “completes the ‘order-blend-delivery-application’ cycle,” Martin says. “AgWorks Smart Guns record pertinent information about timing, placement, products, applicators, drivers, and regulatory compliance activities. This data is linked back to the order system recording ‘Done Data’ and creating application logbooks.”

Investing In Accuracy

It seems self-evident that fertilizer robots that make transactions easier, increase accuracy, and help to maintain precise records are becoming not just helpful, but necessary.

According to Junge: “We had one customer with a $70,000 machine who added two of something to make it a $100,000 machine. He said that one mistake they could make was worth more than the $30,000 the second computer would cost. They’re spending money to become more efficient, more accurate, and more professional.”

This trend is becoming a market need. Steve Swift, product manager, fertilizer and chemical equipment division, Kahler Automation says: “Software is the key to any large facility. It allows a high level of daily production, documentation, and inventory control. The demand for plant equipment has remained at a very high level. Companies with long-term plans are still investing in plant facilities. There has been a big trend to get the product to the field in a more efficient manner than in previous years.”

Leave a Reply

Software Stories
SoftwareBlending Software To Address Every Need Of Ag Retail
March 3, 2014
This year’s packages cover more facets of dealer businesses than ever. Read More
SoftwareNew Crop Scouting App Now Available For Ag Retailers
September 3, 2013
AgraScout is a data management and communications tool used by retailers, consultants, and others to track and report conditions in a particular farm location. Read More
SoftwareWinfield Launches New Mapping Capabilities For R7 Tool
August 29, 2013
Winfield has announced the addition of a Field Response Map and a Profitability Map for its R7 Tool at 2013 Farm Progress Show. Read More
SoftwareTrimble Launches Connected Farm Dashboard
August 29, 2013
The company claims its new dashboard enables better decision making by putting key data at growers’ fingertips. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Farmer on tablet
CropLife 100Southern States Co-op: An Inside Look At Our Aerial Imagery Program
February 8, 2015
Now is as good a time as any to explore the basics of what a retail aerial imagery program looks like today. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Inks Satellite Imagery Agreement
February 3, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Company has reached an agreement with Planet Labs to bring satellite imagery to the AgVerdict software platform. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Management2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad …
February 27, 2015
Jim Gray, executive director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force, lays out planned activities to mark the chemistry’s 70th anniversary. Read More
HerbicidesUniversity Of Arkansas Flag The Technology Program Adds…
February 27, 2015
Started in 2010, the Flag the Technology program provides a visual reference for applicators to distinguish between fields planted with different herbicide-tolerant trait technologies. Read More
Luckey Farmers, Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center
Industry NewsLuckey Farmers’ Berkey Branch Certified In 4R Nut…
February 26, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Luckey Farmers Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center in northwest Ohio has been added to its growing list of nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Crop InputsWinField Unveiling NutriVision Technology, Ascend Dry F…
February 24, 2015
New for 2015 are NutriVision Technology, a unique tool for monitoring in-season plant nutrient availability, and Ascend WSG plant growth regulator, a new dry formulation of Ascend plant growth regulator. Read More
FertilizerNew Formulation Of NutriSphere-N Protects High Volume U…
February 24, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences is launching NutriSphere-N HVTM, a new polymer formulation of the proven NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager that protects high-volume applications of UAN. Read More
EquipmentIowa Ag Secretary Northey Names Hagie Water Quality Lea…
February 24, 2015
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has named Hagie Mfg. as a recipient of the Secretary’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Leader Award. Read More
FungicidesEvito Fungicide Gives Canadian Wheat Growers New Diseas…
February 24, 2015
EVITO fungicide from Arysta LifeScience North America gives Canadian wheat and barley growers a new option for disease control. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Commodity Classic Turns 20
February 23, 2015
Two decades in, this annual gathering of all things agriculture has become a must-see event. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: On The Road Edition
February 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent trips to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and the Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Acquires FLM+ Assets
February 19, 2015
FLM+ will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes, Inc., and the company will retain its employee base after closing of the deal, which is scheduled for the second quarter of the year. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnited Suppliers, Stine Seed Form Marketing Alliance
February 19, 2015
The new alliance will greatly expand sales opportunities for Stine Seed with the United Supplier Seed Link Owners. Read More
Crop InputsVilsack To Deliver Commodity Classic Keynote Address
February 19, 2015
The secretary will deliver a keynote address to several thousand farmers and ag allies during the event's General Session, to be held Friday, February 27, in Phoenix, AZ. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Storage Tips
February 19, 2015
On-farm storage of soybeans requires some special considerations compared to corn. Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance Delivers Promising Field Trial Results
February 19, 2015
In its first full year of field trials, the BioAg Alliance reported that the top 10 microbial strains tested in corn and soybeans showed very promising results. Read More
National Farm Machinery Show overview
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Attendance Up By 16K
February 18, 2015
The 2015 event saw the second highest attendance total of all time as 310,589 attendees that included exhibitors and agribusiness professionals traveled to the Kentucky Exposition Center to participate in the nation’s largest indoor ag trade show. Read More