Brandt Consolidated, headquartered in Springfield, Ill., serves growers around the globe, not just the Midwest. Brandt’s Retail Agronomy division provides a full line of both products and services including customized computer and GPS systems designed to enhance grower profitability by helping customers more efficiently track results versus inputs.
Brandt’s Retail Agronomy’s Technical Support group is in charge of managing customers’ spatial data collected at the field-level of a location, such as crop yield and application of fertilizers or pesticides. Brandt then analyzes this information in order to provide customers with insight into areas of cost savings and new efficiencies.
However, information has been collected from disparate technology platforms from a range of vendors. This meant that there was no standardization to the data that came in from the various systems, and the collected data was siloed. Although Brandt was using a software system that could communicate with each platform, the company wanted to advance its data collection and analysis capabilities by standardizing data and bringing information from third-party platforms into a single repository.
Brandt sought the expertise of St. Louis-based Engage, a firm that designs and develops web and mobile solutions for enterprises, which Brandt believed could build a customized application for collecting, standardizing and analyzing customer data. After working closely with Brandt to first understand its specific needs and map out a three-phase rollout, Engage created a web-based application called BASE (Brandt Agronomic Solutions Engine) using the DNN-based (formally DotNetNuke) content management platform, Evoq Content, integrated with an SQL database.
Within BASE, Engage built integration points so that consultants can directly upload spatial data into the system from virtually anywhere, regardless of the software used to collect the data. Once information is input, BASE consolidates the data in a standardized format. Brandt employees can then easily pull the data from BASE into Brandt’s precision agriculture software tool, Total Acre, to analyze and generate reports to help make recommendations to the customers based on the growing season.
Brandt officials indicated they needed a solid base application to serve as a single data repository, and it was key that the solution could seamlessly interface with third-party applications so that Brandt would only have to go through one touch point to access and report on data.
In addition, Brandt’s Technical Support group built a web service that syncs its existing accounting software, AgVance, with BASE, so users can also input, standardize and access not only spatial data, but also accounting information.
With BASE, Brandt is successfully aggregating data from third-party sources into one, single repository for streamlined reporting and analysis. The company no longer has to spend time and effort going through various touch points to obtain the data needed to provide insight to its customers.
Since data from BASE feeds into Total Acre, Brandt is able to maximize Total Acre’s value and market the system as a competitive differentiator. The insight gleaned through Total Acre, via data from BASE, has enabled growers to increase their productivity by making better decisions based on data, according to the company. With enhanced insight on how to increase crop yields, growers are producing more crops per acre. And, when more crops are produced, the nutrient sufficiency (the amount of nutrients it takes to yield “x” number of crops) decreases. Thus, if growers are maximizing their nutrient application, they are capable of lowering costs.
Because Engage developed BASE as an open application, it is easy to add new integration points. This offers Brandt the flexibility to bring in data from additional systems as needed, making BASE a scalable platform for years to come, claims Engage officials.