Last fall, the team at Landus Cooperative launched a new customer digital experience, which has led to four times as many farmers signing up and using these tools compared with their predecessors. The online portal and mobile app provided the co-op a new way to connect with farmers and provide them the latest business information.
“Communication is at the core of what we set out to do with the toolset,” says Robert Barker, chief information technology officer at Landus Cooperative. ‘We wanted to allow the ability for us to communicate with the grower, and the grower be able to communicate with us.”
This fall, the co-op is eager to unveil even more features as it anticipates a great need to stay connected during what’s shaping up as a challenging harvest season.
For the 2018 harvest season there were 12 elevator locations with cameras installed so farmers can log in and see remotely how long the unloading lines were. And this fall, the cooperative is adding cameras at a handful of more locations.
As another harvest logistical planning tool, all 55 grain locations report scale-to-scale time for corn and soybean lines. Farmers can log in and see an average from the last hour of truck traffic scaling in, dumping and then scaling out.
“It’s intended to tell the grower once you’re in the system, how fast you can expect to move,” says Alicia Heun, director of communications for Landus Cooperative. “When we launched this feature, some location managers were hesitant at first, but then it quickly became a pride point for them to display how efficient they were operating in-season.”
Another way the technology tools will strengthen connectivity with farmers during harvest is the ability for all grain elevator location managers to update hours of operation in an employee app that “talks” to the customer’s app via text and other updates. For example, if they close early due to receiving their maximum of high moisture corn or are able to stay open for extended hours to continue receiving grain, they can adjust the hours as they see fit and communicate that with farmers.
“Doing an initiative like this has become a change agent for our organization,” Barker says. “We are reshaping ourselves and doing some things that make us uncomfortable. But it has really helped our cooperative progress to a different level of service and a different level of transparency to better serve our members.”