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Future of Agriculture

Welcome to the Future of Agriculture Podcast with Tim Hammerich. This show explores the people, companies, and ideas shaping the future of agribusiness. If you are curious about innovations in AgTech, rural entrepreneurship, agricultural sustainability, and food security, this is the show for you! For more details on the guests featured on this show, visit the blog at www.FutureOfAg.com. Or, to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture, visit www.AgGrad.com Make sure you’re subscribed so you can catch another fascinating ag innovator next week!
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Now displaying: April, 2021
Apr 28, 2021

Check out the SWAT Agronomy Podcast on any podcast platform!

 Please participate in our listener survey to help us focus the direction of the show:  https://airtable.com/shrCB33GWIUCIxVRU 

Over the past decade, one of the areas agriculture has changed significantly is in the number of available digital tools that can be used on the farm. On the surface this is a great thing, but if - and only if - these tools are easy to use and produce actionable results. And even then, a farmer is only going to use so many tools even if they are all great. 

Jim Ethington has been thinking about these issues for over a decade. He started at The Climate Corp in 2008, when it was still known as WeatherBill and was not yet exclusively an ag-focused company. He stayed with the company for a decade, through many milestones including the acquisition by Monsanto and the integration of the 640 drive that we featured in episode 241 with Craig Rupp. He left the company in 2018 as VP of Product to take a job as the CEO of Arable, which is where he still works today. 

Arable offers systems that are easy to install on any farm to enable data-driven decisions using Measurements that Matter. With real-time, continuous visibility and predictive analytics of over 40 metrics, their flagship product, the Arable Mark is a straightforward and versatile tool that can be adapted to any field's demands, and can satisfy any producer's need to know even the most granular tidbit of information about their harvest. 

 

Join the FOA Community!

Be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of the ag industry. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Apr 21, 2021

Today’s episode is brought to you by FieldAgent by Sentera.

One key piece of the agtech conversation that often gets overlooked is the most likely customer for a lot of digital tools may not actually be a farmer. For many of them, an advisor to that farmer may be the one actually performing that task, and may have the biggest vested interest in adopting cutting-edge technologies. 

We’re calling this little mini-series “The Tech-Enabled Advisor.” We will profile some of the farmers’ advisers: agronomists, ag retailers, consultants, and other local professionals that farmers rely on for guidance, advice, and implementation. To help me identify the right tech-savvy advisors for these episodes, and to make sure we hear from different types of guests, I’ve asked various agtech companies to partner with me on these episodes.  The first one to say yes, was the sponsor of today’s episode: FieldAgent by Sentera. FieldAgent enables agronomic advisors to make more timely decisions by taking data they’re already using on a daily basis – such as satellite, weather, equipment, soil, and field operations and integrate it with drone data and their machine learning capabilities.

In this episode, we are joined by Matt Larson, Agronomy Sales Manager for CHS in Holdredge, Nebraska. CHS is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States. Matt and his team of 6 utilize technology like FieldAgent alongside Climate FieldView and CHS’s Agellum platform to service their farmer customers.

 

“The biggest thing we need to do to separate ourselves is bring new ideas. Everybody has a fertilizer price. Everybody sells a seed of some kind or a chemical of some kind. The big thing that we need to do is separate ourselves with technology, being a big one, service, information to growers, and just being able to offer those different ideas that maybe somebody else hasn't quite caught on to yet.” - Matt Larson

 

Matt has seen the business model of agronomists and agronomy sales evolve over the last 12 years whether it's via communication methods, producer expectations or relationships with the farmers. He has found that farmers want to see more verified data before adopting new technology and a lot of that can now be shared via the new digital platforms.  

 

“Growers have all this data. They have the planting data, they have the seeding data, harvest data, their spraying, all that stuff. What do they do with it? And that's where I think it's our job to dig through the weeds and find out what's the real, what's the fake for them, what makes a difference and then bring that to them.” - Matt Larson

 

 Please participate in our listener survey to help us focus the direction of the show:  https://airtable.com/shrCB33GWIUCIxVRU 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Matt Larson, Agronomy Sales Manager for CHS in Holdredge, Nebraska
  • Discover how Matt incorporates new technologies like FieldAgent, Climate FieldView and CHS’s Agellum platform for his customers
  • Listen to a discussion about what data matters to producers and what methods do they prefer to use to access it

Join the FOA Community!

Be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of the ag industry. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Apr 14, 2021

Please participate in our listener survey to help us focus the direction of the show: https://airtable.com/shrCB33GWIUCIxVRU

Today we get a unique global view into agtech and agribusiness. We are joined by Greg Meyers, who is the Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer of Syngenta based at their world headquarters in Switzerland. Most of you are familiar with Syngenta but you may or may not know they are the largest crop protection company in the world and the third largest seed company in the world. They also provide digital ag platforms to 125 million acres of global crop production. 

Greg offers his perspective as someone with a front row seat to the global digitization of agriculture. We talk about the agtech customer in various countries, Syngenta’s acquisition strategy, their role in both digital ag and soil health, and some interesting ideas worth pondering about the future of agriculture. 

“The reality of it is that a lot of the growers really have a very specific set of things they're trying to accomplish. And obviously the nature of the work is there's a really compressed window in which those activities have to happen. So if you're trying to create these solutions and they don't fit within that window of work, they really have a hard time finding a fit.” - Greg Meyers

Greg comments that he sees a lot of agtech startups with a really innovative piece of technology that doesn’t answer a direct problem the farmer needs solved. “It’s almost like a solution looking for a problem...So what we’re trying to do is to take our innovation experience in chemistry and biology and marry it to agronomy and computer science,” explains Greg. Finding market fit without incorporating these many different aspects of farming within a specific problem and pain point can lead to a lack of interest by the producer. For example, predictive models in Brazil help solve scouting issues for Asian Soybean Rust while in the “mega farms” of Eastern Europe maximizing fuel efficiency and coordinating the use of different farm equipment is a significant advantage. Syngenta has strategically chosen partners and acquisitions to support specific pain points identified by producers in their specific region. 

“We focused on companies that have already had traction. They had a great market fit. They already had customers and we acquired them not because of the revenue they were getting, but because they really understood the local market well and they had good customer relationships. They were adding value to the grower. They're adding value to the growers advisor….and so we've really built our software platform around trying to be able to help the whole ecosystem that helps farmers.” - Greg Meyers

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Greg Meyers, who is the Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer of Syngenta
  • Explore the agtech industry from a high level perspective and why Greg thinks some technologies are more successful than others in getting adopted
  • Discover the goals of Syngenta’s acquisitions and how they choose partners going forward
  • Learn about the future of Syngenta and where their focus is for the future

Join the FOA Community!

Be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of the ag industry. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

Apr 7, 2021

Please participate in our listener survey to help us focus the direction of the show: https://airtable.com/shrCB33GWIUCIxVRU 

E-commerce is nothing new. I think all of us have probably bought more online than ever this past year. But the company we’re featuring today, Pinduoduo, has taken this to a whole other level by gamifying e-commerce and making it a social experience. A big part of their strategy is selling agricultural products online. One of the biggest drivers changing the future of agriculture is consumer preferences, what they buy and how they buy it. Today we explore some pretty incredible insights into how this is changing in China. 

We have on the show Xin Yi Lim, who is the executive director of Sustainability and Agricultural Impact at Pinduoduo. The platform, which has been described as “where Costco meets Disney”, started in 2015 and has grown to over 700 million active users in China. Before joining Pinduoduo in 2018, Xin Yi worked for SIngapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, both in its Singapore and New York offices as a technology and media analyst. 

“Really what we are trying to provide is a way for producers or merchants to sell a larger volume of products in a shorter period of time. And in so doing, they can reap the benefits of economies of scale and how we do that is through this notion of a team purchase. So it starts off by the realization that for a lot of people, what you actually want to buy for things like say food or fresh produce can be influenced by those around you.” - Xin Yi Lim

 

She highlights that this opportunity gives producers “a lot more visibility” to their consumers by allowing customers to share their interests and purchases. Pinduoduo introduced team purchase to consumers with discounted products and has expanded to including a gaming component. Participants can play a game that results in free or discounted produce. This allows Pinduoduo to not only get more engagement from their users but also to see which participants are most influential to other users. In fact 90% of their revenue comes from merchant advertising targeting likely consumers. 

 

“As we continue to grow, I think it's really also gone beyond just a team purchase. It's also encouraging more and more interactions by the users with the platform. So like what I mentioned earlier, that social graph of how you interact with your friends, how you influence them and they influence you. That helps us to refine our idea of what it is that you're interested in and give you the right recommendations.” - Xin Yi Lim

 

Pinduoduo has expanded beyond grocery items and also supplies agricultural inputs among other products. Xin Yi Lim comments that she has seen value and influence for agricultural producers from live streaming efforts by scientists, agronomists and other fellow producers suggesting the ongoing expansion of the scope of potential influence. 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Xin Yi Lim, who is the executive director of Sustainability and Agricultural Impact at Pinduoduo
  • Explore this e-commerce platform that is influencing consumer trends and allowing producers to distribute their product at a higher volume
  • Learn about the wide array of products Pinduoduo provides to its customers and the techniques they use to entice consumers to buy on their platform

 

Join the FOA Community!

Be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of the ag industry. I’m sending out my email newsletter on a more regular basis, focusing on what I call the front lines of agtech: where product meets producer. You can sign up for that at www.FutureOfAg.com. There’s an email icon in the center of the page, just click on that and it will take you to a signup form.

Do you have suggestions for topics to be explored? Tweet them to me @timhammerich or email them to tim@aggrad.com

Find us online!

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

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