Blending Software To Address Every Need Of Ag Retail

In a climate of exceptional technological innovation, software and automation firms are making their mark, introducing advances inside the plant and out. Blending facilities themselves continue to get more complex — and more productive.

“Customers are asking for fully automated systems with attention to increased operator security, 24/7 self-service, more reporting, data crunching and inventory control,” says Dave Junge, president of Junge Control. In addition, customers are upgrading facility sizes and increasing productivity by automating and updating technology. The trend means business at Junge is good, with sales up over last year’s figures.

He also says there is renewed focus on low-rate product accuracy as crop care products become more expensive and potent. “Our freefall accuracy — continued weighing of product after valves are closed for accurate rates — is more in demand,” he explains.

In fact, on the low-rate front Junge has introduced a larger capacity 250-gallon JungeWay system, going beyond the company’s 125-gallon system for high speed measuring and blending of high volume micros.

Business is also brisk at Kahler Automation. Kahler has added to its warehouse yet again as well as increased its workforce, says Steve Swift. At presstime, the company had 62 plant startups to finish before spring. Unfortunately, brutal weather has slowed or stopped the construction of buildings and equipment needed to be completed before the firm can install its automation systems.

Streamline, released last year, is Kahler’s software package that can pull together the grain, liquid fertilizer and dry fertilizer segments at dealerships.

Swift says customers are now asking the company to host a Web page that would update operation systems automatically so they don’t have to purchase and install the updates site by site. For a corporate retailer with 50 to 60 outlets, that just makes sense, he notes.

Dealers are also inquiring about logistics programs that can alert a base facility when a tender has delivered product to a floater or air machine. The goal would be to “que up the next order. It’s all about keeping the plant running efficiently. It’s all about speed … tons per day and loads per day,” says Swift.

New this year is an updated design of a self-service dry tower in Kansas, the second of its kind, as Kahler has mainly focused on self-serve liquid systems in the past. He says the project will be a blueprint for construction of more facilities in the future.

Beyond The Plant

While dealer physical plant expansions still continue, Allen Smith, product manager with Cultura Technologies, LLC, says customers’ interests and buying needs are changing. In the past, he’s experienced capital invested in hard assets such as facilities, trucks and equipment. “Now many dealers are investing in technology, with the goal of providing as much information to their growers as possible,” he says.

Indeed, with growers taking advantage of devices like smartphones and tablets, organizations can — and need to — deliver more information. For instance, tablets can send work orders and maps to applicators and as-applied information back to the accounting system and into field history.

“Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and greater data access are becoming part of the process of generating automated orders for the formulation and blending process,” says Smith. This has opened the door for Cultura to expand its portfolio to deliver products and services that go beyond the firm’s traditional software offerings, he says.

Another driver for technical advances is the fact that central distribution locations are now serving a greater geographic area — so customers used to having products available locally are farther away from the source, explains Smith. Not only do companies need faster blending and loadout facilities, but more effective communication and logistics management as well. “Systems and services that streamline the process of order to field is where organizations are challenging us to deliver,” he notes.

Yet another factor? Blending and application demands are increasing as variable-rate application is becoming more widespread, says Keith Bangasser, CINCH product manager. The biggest advances here are in linking the field data into the accounting software to give profitability by acre. Indeed, Bangasser believes integrations between farm machinery, yield data collection systems and the retailer accounting system is the most exciting thing coming in the software field.

He says that because e-Markets’ CINCH system is built on the Microsoft technology platform, integrations and data management is simple and flexible. The new 2013 Web-enabled version of CINCH allows for remote access via the Web into a client’s own server.

Cultura’s Smith has been surprised at the high level of interest dealers have in products that can provide integration with a wide array of preferred precision agronomy and logistic tools and offerings. For instance, when customers choose formulation and blending software, they want the ability to choose which GIS they will use.

Cultura has an adaptable formulation and blending software package, AgroGuide, that allows for easy management of the order-taking to invoicing process — while integrating with automated blending, precision agronomy and equipment logistics tools. The AgroGuide system can be seamlessly integrated with an established, full-service agribusiness accounting suite, says Smith. Cultura also offers the AGRIS system, an established accounting, commodity and inventory management system which integrates with AgroGuide. AGRIS also links to the oneWeigh scale automation system, which enables electronic management of shipping and receiving of bulk products and the ability to process sales orders and create delivery tickets or stock additions right at the scale.

Cultura is moving into the next phase of its product development project with SST. The task at hand: integrating field recommendations by SST’s Summit Professional with Cultura’s agronomy management system. The goal is “the most robust and efficient system for creating and delivering agronomic recommendations to the field,” says Smith.

Ag software is indeed going well beyond plant operations these days, with plenty of new products hitting the market in just the past year. “There’s an abundance of cash in the ag industry and people — outside interests — are flocking to it. We are seeing many startup software packages being introduced,” explains Greg Duhachek, president of AgWorks. “I think competition is a wonderful thing, it drives innovation, and that’s something that’s been lacking in this space, quite frankly.”

Adding Value

He says dealers are looking for products that will unify and offer “decision support” to utilize all the data currently being collected — from live machine data out in the field to production details like soil type, rainfall, irrigation, soil test values, fertilizer, seeding and pesticide information. Duhachek has found that the average retailer today is touching anywhere from three to five different pieces of software to run their agronomy division, and “people are getting a little tired of it.”

For its part, AgWorks is launching an aggressive new platform this year for its dealership management software, AgOS (unified ag operating system). It now integrates plant management functions with new components such as precision and field scouting. “It is based on AgWorks’ ‘field to financials’ vision, connecting everything you do on every acre all the way through to your financial package,” explains Duhachek.

To ensure AgOS can tackle real-world situations, AgWorks is working closely with its new ownership, The McGregor Co., which purchased AgWorks two years ago. As one of America’s top ag retailers in the Pacific Northwest with more than 130 years of experience in the industry, McGregor’s team has brought great depth to AgWorks’ new products. “AgOS is truly ‘by ag retail, for ag retail,’” Duhachek explains.

He believes AgOS comes to the industry at a key time, when dealers are working hard to enhance the grower/retailer relationship. Market dynamics in the 1990s — which included the RoundUp Ready gene debut and historically low commodity prices — initiated a change to the way retailers serve their growers. Retailers are understanding that they must bring more to the table than traditional goods and services historically associated with ag retail, says Duhachek.

“Retail organizations have something more to offer than just supply chain management,” he points out. “We want our system to enhance that relationship, offering decision support, effectively utilizing all the data.”

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

Trending Articles

MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechBerendes Joins Verdesian Board Of Directors
September 2, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences announced that Robert Berendes has recently joined the company's board of directors. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
September 2, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches Performance Agriculture Brand
September 2, 2014
Performance Agriculture complements Pinnacle’s existing brands, including Sanders, the company’s flagship farm input retail brand. Read More
Webinars5 Key Benefits Of Attending A Webinar
September 2, 2014
Webinars can provide ag retailers with a convenient option for gaining knowledge on the latest industry issues and solutions. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Is Betting On A Bright Agricultural Future
September 1, 2014
The crop protection products giant is gearing up for a busy time in agriculture by investing in both product production and development over the next couple of years. Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Erie Feeling For Ag
September 1, 2014
Plenty of water issues have been in the news lately, including the continuing drought in California. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires California-Based Retailer
August 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings will acquire Kerman Ag Resources, Inc., which will operate under Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More