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

EquipmentDTN Launches Ag Retailer Focused Data Management Program
April 5, 2016
As farm data multiplies exponentially, ag retailers need help leveraging the power of big data to better serve their customers Read More
Junge Control Panels
SoftwarePlant Automation Takes Traceability To The Next Level
March 8, 2016
What began as a way to simply vary differing fertility products at different rates to create custom fertilizer blends — Read More
Tiger Sul Crop Nutrient Calculator
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launches New Nutrient Calculator App
November 12, 2015
H.J. Baker, a global agriculture firm, has launched a new agronomic nutrient calculator app. This innovative and powerful tool will Read More
Precision AgXS Inc. Expanding Ag Retail Reach With AgVeritas
November 5, 2015
AgVeritas, the patented cloud-based yield analysis application launched by XS Inc for the 2015 season, is making a significant impact Read More
Trending Articles
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Latest News
ManagementUpdates on Glyphosate Use in the EU and Bayer/Monsanto
June 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the latest important developments on these crop protection fronts. Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Names Protassium+ Sales Director
June 28, 2016
Compass Minerals, the producer of Protassium+ sulfate of potash, has named Scott Johnson director of sales for Protassium+ North America. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe British Leave Vote Impact On EU Agriculture
June 27, 2016
Like virtually everyone else in the world this past week, I’ve watched the global reaction to Britain’s vote to exit Read More
Valent David Nothmann
Crop InputsValent Names David Nothmann Vice President Of Marketing
June 27, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has announced the appointment of David Nothmann as vice president of marketing. Nothmann will be responsible for Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stew…
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Contributes To Mayo Clinic
June 27, 2016
BRANDT, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty agriculture products, has pledged a sizable donation to the Mayo Clinic Read More
ManagementReport: U.S. Farmland Values On Average Continue Gradua…
June 27, 2016
Land price movement has been in the forefront for farmers, landowners, lenders and land brokers for a decade now during Read More
AdjuvantsPrecision Laboratories Introduces Intact Xtra For Use W…
June 27, 2016
Precision Laboratories announces the launch of Intact Xtra, an adjuvant designed for applicators who want to maximize spray applications and Read More
Key Cooperative’s new liquid fertilizer, crop chemical, and seed facility in Grinnell, IA stores 1.5 million gallons of liquid fertilizer and 120,000 gallons of crop chemicals.
Retail FacilitiesKey Cooperative Facility Features The Latest In Murray …
June 27, 2016
When Key Cooperative wanted to improve the overall efficiency at its new state-of-the-art facility in Grinnell, IA, it turned to Read More
Allen Summers Asmark Institute PSM Training
EmployeesAsmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Trai…
June 21, 2016
The Asmark Institute has announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage Read More
Kennebec Elevator
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Celebrates Kennebec Elevator Grand Openin…
June 21, 2016
Over 250 patrons and guests were on hand to celebrate Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Elevator grand opening. South Dakota Secretary of Read More
Land O Lakes
Industry NewsLand O’Lakes To Acquire Ceres
June 20, 2016
Land O’ Lakes, Inc. and Ceres, Inc. have announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Land O’Lakes Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To …
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
LegislationVilsack Christens WinField Crop Adventure, Talks Monsan…
June 17, 2016
The WinField Crop Adventure grand opening ceremonies at Fair Oaks Farms (near Winemac, IN) welcomed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Read More
Crop InputsFields of the Future: WinField Doubles Down with Agri-E…
June 16, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc., joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, today will host Fields of the Future, a live broadcast about Read More
Bayer sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Turns Back Bayer Again
June 14, 2016
Bayer AG’s bid to buy Monsanto Co. for more than $60 billion has hit an impasse that could pose a Read More
Young Corn Field
Crop NutritionNext Generation Of Nitrogen Efficiency Technology Conve…
June 13, 2016
Commodity price projections indicate farmers will continue to face tight margins again this year. Delivering higher yields and more bushels Read More