GROWMARK Receives Inaugural Innovation Award

CropLife America (CLA), joined with AgGateway to present GROWMARK with its first annual CLA Information Technology Innovation Award last February at GROWMARK’s Bloomington, IL, offices.

CLA created the award in 2011 to recognize member companies that utilize new information technologies and tools in their business operation. GROWMARK received the first award in recognition of their new online platform, cropNAtion, and was presented the award by Jay Vroom (CLA) and Rod Conner (AgGateway). John Chrosniak of DuPont Crop Protection, and Chairman of the CLA Board of Directors, first announced the winner at CLA’s 2011 Annual Meeting.

The new cropNAtion social media platform serves as a 21st century “coffee shop” for today’s growers: an opportunity to talk about what’s going on in their fields, the conversations taking place in Washington, DC, and the latest Farm Bill developments. The main goal of cropNAtion is to facilitate a discussion among growers to share resources and ideas. The cropNAtion website launched this past summer and is available for use.

After creating a profile, users can share information about their operations, ask and answer questions, upload photos, and access the latest markets and weather conditions. An iPhone and Android app will be available for download soon.

Jim Spradlin, GROWMARK vice president, Agronomy, said cropNAtion was developed to meet the need for a place where farmers could communicate with one another about the challenges and triumphs on their operations.

“We made the decision not to brand cropNAtion as a GROWMARK project because we wanted the network to be open and inviting to growers on all platforms. We anticipate that because of this strategy, cropNAtion will benefit the entire agriculture industry.”

In line with this initiative, recent research from Meister Media Worldwide shows that mobile communications and technologies are increasingly important in the agricultural community.

A survey among 277 agricultural retailers found that 75% said they use a mobile device (smartphone and/or tablet) for business, up 28% from 2010. Of those, 29%  use a Droid, followed by an iPhone (26%), Blackberry (23%), and iPad (18%). Forty-six percent said they use their mobile device 2-4 hours a day. Among those who visit mobile sites, “weather” is the most visited type of website by 55% via mobile on a daily basis. Meanwhile, 16% visit “industry-related” sites daily via their mobile device, while another 27% visit them “a few times week.”

As part of the award, AgGateway donated a check to GROWMARK’s charity of choice, the Midwest Food Bank, a regional distributor for local food pantries that also provides disaster relief. Mike Hoffman from the Midwest Food Bank was in the office to receive the check from Vroom and Conner, and spoke about the crucial role that volunteers and donations play in the Midwest Food Bank’s success as an efficient charity.

GROWMARK represents just one of the more than 70 CLA member companies, which encompass the range of developers, manufacturers, formulators and distributors of plant science solutions for agriculture and pest management in the U.S. CLA’s member companies produce, sell and distribute virtually all of the crop protection products used by American farmers.

AgGateway is a nonprofit consortium of businesses serving the agriculture industry, which helps member companies improve their profitability and productivity by promoting, enabling and expanding e-business in agriculture and agriculture related businesses. The non-profit organization helps member companies efficiently address current and future challenges in traceability, increasing government regulation and helps member companies achieve supply chain cost savings. CLA and AgGateway collaborated on the CLA IT Innovation Award to specifically recognize the cutting-edge e-business advancements in the crop protection industry.

CLA will soon open up nominations for the 2012 CLA IT Innovation Award. Interested applicants may contact Mary Emma Young at meyoung@croplifeamerica.org or 202-872-3864. Applicants may submit a short narrative not to exceed two double-spaced pages which describes the company’s new e-business initiatives. The criteria for receiving an award include novelty of approach, execution of the program, benefits of the technology, and ability to determine results through established metrics. Finalists are selected by representatives from CLA and AgGateway.

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