Along with managing more acres, U.S. farmers face the challenge of managing—and analyzing—more data. This trend is fueling interest in the AgriEdge Excelsior Program from Syngenta. What began in the South with a few thousand acres of U.S. cotton has emerged more than a decade later into a nationwide program that offers growers data-rich, whole-farm management.
According to Reagan DeSpain, AgriEdge Excelsior manager, Syngenta Southern commercial unit, the program is gaining momentum because it features a unique form of service, valuable data capture and support.
A cornerstone of the program is its state-of-the-art technology, which helps growers manage full-scale farming operations more efficiently. The program provides data and record-keeping through its Land.db™ software developed by AgConnections. The software captures information associated with a farm, including yield, timing of sprays, compliance reporting, as well as input costs and returns on investment, then tracks, measures and examines each acre to see if it’s profitable—or not.
“The combined capabilities of the platform allows growers to keep track of their input costs down to the field level, acre by acre, and generates summaries that provide performance insight and support improved farming practices,” said Dale Nicol, AgriEdge Excelsior manager, Syngenta Coastal commercial unit.
Pete Clark and Rick Murdock, co-owners of AgConnections, worked previously as ag retailers. They both know the industry and what drives the farming business. From their vantage point, the Land.db software was born out of a crucial missing link: detailed, useable data.
“In the beginning, growers often grab the technology because of some compliance-driven need,” Clark said. He added that sometimes those needs stem from bankers, landlords or food-processing companies.
“But after a year, maybe two, those same growers will really begin using the tool for full-scale business management,” said Murdock. “Each grower can look at his profitability and know, without a doubt, how his entire operation is performing.”
Across the platform, 95 percent of growers who initially enroll in the program elect to continue participating, noted Nichol. While the technology is “pretty whizz bang,” he said the program’s real key to success is the service that supports it.
Syngenta has a roster of AgriEdge Excelsior specialists who provide on-farm support with a full understanding of the program as well as the software. Ag-Connections also has support personnel and is always ready via phone or Web to address any need with the Land.db software. Retail partners also play integral roles in providing overall service to growers. Through this combination of technology and support, growers can use data generated from Land.db to help pinpoint which seed, seed treatment and crop protection technologies are best suited for a particular acre of land.
Information from Land.db also can help growers and their AgriEdge Excelsior teams build specific contingency plans.
“Farming is a high-risk business,” said Ron Cowman, AgriEdge Excelsior manager for the northern third of the U.S. “Growers never know what’s going to hit them next—floods, drought, hail, fluctuating market prices. The volume of data recorded for each farm helps us anticipate adversities and develop contingency plans that may mitigate some of the risks.”