I read Green Futures from cover to cover (which I rarely do with magazines these days). It’s so full of inspiration and really thought-provoking stuff.
A sleek new data app developed in the US has the potential to radically change the way farmers and agricultural suppliers aggregate information, helping to create more efficient use of agronomical land.
FarmLog uses GPS technology to capture and distil all kinds of farming data, including information on the best market price for grain and insights into the performance of the farm, right down to the level of rainfall an individual field has received. It also supports softer skills such as planning and budgeting for the following year.
The app is already in use in all 50 states in the US, helping farmers to maximise yields by eradicating inefficient methods. Data can be synchronised with both the iOS and Android operating systems, even in remote areas of the farm where connectivity is traditionally an issue. The information is presented in a smooth, user-friendly interface, overcoming one of the barriers to the adoption of traditional desktop farm management software, which is often clunky and complex. It is completely free to use with no restrictions or advertising.
FarmLog was created by Jesse Vollmar, who grew up on a mid-size family farm in Caro, Michigan, and his friend Brad Koch, after graduating from university in 2011. The following year it received support from Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley accelerator programme that provides seed money, advice, and connections for up to three months. It has also been funded by Drive Capital, an Ohio-based venture capital firm set up to fill the local need for investment in technological solutions in the US Midwest, where the FarmLog team is based.
Apps like Farm Manager and Monsanto’s Field View hold similar places in the market. FarmLog stands out thanks to its ability to bring together such an array of complex information and link that directly to a farmer’s bottom line, while also future-proofing farming practices. By quantifying data sets the app can help farmers make more informed decisions about crop and nutrient management, along with soil and water conservation.
James Taplin, a digital expert at Forum for the Future, believes that this type of app has the capability to not only increase efficiency but to transform farmers’ livelihoods. In the next stage of development, he’d like to see the app help farmers work together to tackle common problems. “By strengthening independent small-scale farmers in tough markets, this collaboration could provide much needed resilience for the industry”, he says.
Photo credit: Farmlogs