In the old days, farmers had to do everything manually. Then, the big tractors came and made life a lot easier. But, in order to monitor their crops, farmers still had to trek out to the fields to scratch down data. Then, they had to hike back to enter the information in their computer.
With advancements in technology and software, it seems like this problem would’ve been solved years ago, but Silicon Valley had a difficult time relating to farmers’ needs.
Enter Jesse Vollmar, a fifth generation soy and corn farmer. Vollmar is the CEO and cofounder of FarmLogs, a company dedicated to crop health management. The FarmLogs mobile app makes it easy for farmers to enter data into a smartphone and use this information to increase crop yield.
Vollmar reports that 70,000 row-crop farms in the United States, all 100 acres or more, use elements of FarmLogs to monitor their crops. As Forbes puts it, “The crop health monitoring imagery utilized by FarmLogs shows information that is actionable and eliminates guesswork so that farmers can fix problems before yield is reduced.”
The software can potentially help cut waste and increase production. Most of FarmLogs is free this year, but it will probably require a subscription in 2016. So, now is an ideal time for farmers to take advantage of a software that can make growing crops a little less tedious and a little more effective. As Vollmar points out, “data science is the next big wave of evolution on the farm.”
What FarmLogs does
The software can keep track of information such as:
- Planting dates
- Watering schedules
- Crop yield and overall crop health
- Heat accumulation
- Soil health (collected by the Department of Agriculture)
FarmLogs also includes data about where there was rainfall and how much accumulated. This information is collected by the National Weather Service and provided for each square kilometer of farmland. When you sign up, you get 10 years of rainfall data and 10 years of thermal conditions for your fields.
The New York Times reports “the app compares real-time satellite images of every five square meters of field with the last five years of satellite imagery to detect whether a particular area is distressed. If so, farmers receive push notifications urging them to go to that spot and see for themselves why the plants are struggling compared with previous years.”
The information provided by FarmLogs helps farmers understand what their crops need and take action towards solving these problems.
Why we need FarmLogs
With the data insight FarmLogs provides, crop yields could increase. “The problem we’re solving is that the world needs to feed nine billion people by 2050, and we’re not going to get any more farmland,” Vollmar told The New York Times. “We can help get more out of our natural resources, make our land more productive, lower the cost of food production and build a healthy viable technology business at the same time.”
FarmLogs is progress in the right direction. However, the app can’t keep track of every variable. It’s not a complete solution. But, for now, it can help farmers with their crops and potentially ensure more food for our growing population.