Indiana Software Company Employs Mapping Technology to Help Rowcroppers with Sustainability
February 19, 2014 | Missy Smith
In a world where it seems technology and the natural world are at odds, Lafayette, Indiana’s Advanced Ag Solutions is finding common ground by coupling technology and agriculture in its mission to make farming more efficient for the modern farmer.
Founded in 2006 by Daryl Starr, the agronomy software company helps farmers to build viable businesses with data and integrated crop management tools, with a simple mission to equip farmers to feed the world.
“Our primary services revolve around soil, seed and weather data management and the resulting recommendations,” he says. “We do everything from pull GPS soil samples to aggregate weather data for each field to help refine crop scouting observations.”
Advanced Ag Solutions’ Geographic Information Systems (GIS)–based Optimizer tool was designed with various growing variables that the farmer inputs into the program. That data is combined with historical weather patterns and actual weather conditions that are updated daily. Each piece of information formulates an equation, allowing the user to understand a crop’s growth rates and nutritional needs, and in turn, find the best solution to maximize yields.
The company currently offers a free text-message version that includes a demo of how the full system works, as well as a subscription-based version, which allows the user to access all of the features. The tool will notify the farmer about conditions in the field on a daily basis, from soil hydrology to nutrient needs, and also allows farmers to build “what-if” scenarios to help with crop planning and overall farm management. Crops can be tracked in the system, and data used to analyze growth.
Starr developed the proprietary algorithms underpinning the software, and was recognized with the Precision Ag Award of Excellence in 2012 and as one of Vance Publishing Corporation’s inaugural 40 Under 40 in Agriculture Awards in 2013.
In addition, Advanced Ag Solutions offers Integrated Crop Management, a custom service that monitors the effectiveness of a farm’s agronomic business practices by streamlining the record-keeping process, monitoring the crop and responding to the plant’s health. Through its efforts, Advanced Ag Solutions has assisted farmers with crop yields on 350,000 acres of farmland in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.
“Row crop farmers have a lot of business tasks to juggle, so they need specialists to come along side of them,” explains Starr. “We help streamline agronomy decisions across millions of acres and simultaneously assist them with increasing yields and profits.”
Through Advanced Ag Solutions’ agronomy app and consulting services, Starr tries to support farmers in becoming empowered to implement sustainable practices.
“Efficient use of our natural resources is paramount to a farmer’s success,” explains Starr. “Sometimes they need to break old habits and sometimes they need education or peer networks to make changes less frightening. Many of our customers have reduced tillage and added cover crops to improve soil health. Others have installed irrigation controls to be more efficient with water. As technology empowers them, they find ways to squeeze more from existing resources and it’s a blessing to help them do it.”
For the newcomers to agriculture, Starr suggests that they embrace technology, along with their dreams to feed people and build a healthier world through productive farming.
“Since mankind began farming, we have been intimately in tune with natural weather cycles affecting planting, fertilization and harvest,” says Starr. “Mechanization allowed massive gains within the last 100 years. The next frontier is deploying the same or greater level of improvement, as did our forefathers, through the use of technology. I encourage young farmers to systematically build their dreams and together we can feed the world. It’s a big task but one that people yearn to solve. It’s noble and there’s no time like today to start improving.”