The advent of GPS transformed the farming industry with what is commonly referred to as "precision ag." Today's farmers have become more efficient by utilizing self-driven tractors to maintain centimeter accuracy, satellite imagery to monitor crop health, and site-specific nutrient applications to reduce costs while sustaining soil health. However, fragmentation between the many precision farming software applications hampers progress in the adoption of new precision ag technologies. SST Software is offering a solution to this problem via the agX Platform.
Matt Waits, CEO, SST Software, explains that there are a multitude of sciences and economics at play in bringing a healthy crop to fruition while still making a profit. Today, the farmer and his trusted ag service provider need to have a working knowledge of chemistry, biology, genetics, and physics. "The deep complexity within the agricultural market naturally creates many areas of expertise," remarks Waits. "This has manifested itself within the precision ag industry with a lot of companies providing niche pieces of the overall production ag system. Some companies focus on remote sensing, while others focus on soil data analysis, seed prescriptions, nitrogen modeling, and more. It is difficult for precision ag end users to utilize these individual pieces efficiently."
Larry Tracy, President of Precision Agronomics, provides agronomic services for many farms of varying sizes across the Midwest. "In farming," states Tracy, "you have small windows of time throughout the season to accomplish activities such as nutrient applications, planting, crop protection, and harvesting. Uncooperative weather can compress these windows even more. We don't have time to pull data out of one system, put it into another system, and try to keep the datasets aligned over time."
Waits states that the issue of seamless data transfer between systems is hampering both startup organizations and those involved in daily farm management decisions. "While there have been some excellent companies recently launched with new precision ag offerings, many are finding that the lack of compatibility between systems is hampering adoption," explains Waits. "Meanwhile, the farmers and ag service providers want the ability to pick best-of-breed products while making sure there is compatibility, security, and seamlessness."
Seamless data transfer across multiple systems requires detailed rules defining the structure and standardization of data. For more than fifteen years, SST Software has been developing standardized solutions for handling content within its own environment while maintaining security protocols on users' datasets. Today, their system manages geospatial data on over 100 million acres of farmland with customers in 23 countries.
Waits remarks, "A few years ago, the demands of the precision ag industry started to accelerate to the point where we could not keep up with all of the development and integration requests. We recognized that we had become the industry experts in the structure and management of geospatial data as it relates to farming. So a major initiative for us was to take the fundamental building blocks of our system and build APIs around them so that we could license them to third party software application developers, who could then seamlessly plug into our framework. This would achieve the type of seamlessness that the end users want and expect to happen."
Besides the benefits of cross-compatibility, when software applications utilize the agX Platform, they benefit from wide-spread exposure through the agX Store. "The agX Store is unique for the agricultural industry because it is the first and only conduit through which a precision ag software offering has the potential to be rapidly adopted by users of many different software solutions," explains Tim Riley, Director of Business Development, SST Software. "When your software product or service appears in the agX Store," Riley continues, "a user knows that your precision ag tools are compatible with their other agX compliant tools and can instantly access your offerings. Product adoption has the potential to happen quickly, while agX maintains the processing infrastructure to handle such success."