Featured on the Ontario AgCast

We were invited to spend some time with the people behind the Ontario AgCast, to talk about technology and describe a bit about how the app world works. Have a listen below to catch up on what Tony discussed with Wendell. Tweet us @AgNition if you want to continue the discussion or have questions of your own to ask.


Technical Information Transfer: The Missing Link in Agriculture 4.0

The pace of technological advances in agriculture is both invigorating and, if we’re honest, a bit daunting. Robotics and autonomous equipment, Internet of Things devices that take advantage of ever-advancing sensors, big data generation and powerful algorithms to drive decisions, genetic editing and nanotechnology: these tools are not on the horizon – they are here today and the impact on the agriculture and food sector is going to be dramatic.

For farmers and ag professionals, the ability to optimize all the new tools, products and management opportunities is becoming a primary skill set. Unfortunately, while the innovations are compelling and the potential benefits are there, the missing link in many cases is support. A fancy new widget is of little value if there is no resource available to the farmer to help use it efficiently and effectively. The same goes for agronomy and production practices. Leading edge extension required for in-season management decisions is still hard for producers to access in some cases.  

Here’s what is needed:

  1. Searchable, interactive product resources

While seeding, harvesting, spraying and all classifications of farm equipment become more complex, the primary support resource is….wait for it……a printed owner’s manual with black and white photos. We have super high-tech tools with incredibly low-tech product support. For the capital cost involved, a searchable, interactive user’s guide is not only doable, it’s long overdue. Many of the go-to agronomy and crop protection resources are still largely distributed via print manuals. Some are available as giant PDF files on-line, but this can be unwieldy for a smartphone user in a tractor at night.

  1. Efficient technical content management and multi-channel delivery

It’s not that long ago that the buzzword for content was convergence. I think it’s time to have that discussion again as it pertains to technical information for agriculture. Print remains as a cornerstone for many equipment and extension manuals, but farmers are now looking for online and mobile-friendly versions. Our vision at AgNition is to offer a platform that allows the print version to be loaded into a content management system. From here, the content can be pushed via websites, mobile apps, even social media. The standard for technical content deliver is to get it to those who need it where and when they need it. Solutions must be easily accessed via searchable and intuitive programming.

  1. Automated, real-time updates

The benefits go beyond improved access for end users. Print content can only be updated by creating a new version. Digitizing the content for multi-channel distribution means the content can be updated and pushed to users in real time. Updates to machinery or changes to crop protection or animal health product labels are examples where it’s just not reasonable for farmers to have to wait for another printed manual to bring them up to speed.

If you are looking for more progressive ways to deliver technical information to farmers, we have a solution. Let’s talk.

Peter is co-founder of AgNition, corn/soy/wheat producer, and a sought-after technology thought leader who delivers workshops across Canada.

Shift to a mobile mindset

As Google co-founder Larry Page says, “We are no longer in a mobile first world, we are in a mobile only world.” If you don’t have the mobile mindset – as in “how can I perform this task or get the required information right here, right now” – then it’s time to shift your thinking. Here’s why:

  • Farmers (and your kids) have a mobile mindset

Over the past three years I’ve been from one side of the country to the other talking to farmers about mobile technology and how to maximize the super-computer they are carrying around in their pockets. For many, the smartphone is now their primary computer. A trip to the office after a long day is extra time working. Being able to complete tasks on the fly instead of having to visit a desktop is becoming a standard ask. This is the mobile mindset and it comes naturally to kids who rely on their smartphone for everything. Many farmers have adopted this way of thinking, but it’s still not fully entrenched with agribusiness, farm organizations and government. If you work from a desk, it’s hard to completely relate to those who are doing everything on a smartphone or tablet and looking to avoid trips to the desktop.  

  • There is huge potential for mobile-friendly resources

For the most part, farmers have embraced mobile and, as farmers do, they have found ingenious ways to make GPS, live video communication, QR code readers, Cloud-based record keeping, mobile web access and all available functionalities work for them. In many cases, the apps or tools being used were not designed or built with agriculture in mind, but farmers bend them to serve their purposes.

As farmers have become more comfortable with their smartphones they are also becoming more aware of what is not available. So many conversations I have start with “why isn’t there an app for ………?” We see enormous potential for enhanced product support via mobile channels that help farmers optimize how the product is used, whether it be a crop protection product or a complex piece of equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The fringe benefit for the vendor is a strengthened connection to their client base. Win-win. Owner’s manuals and micro-font labels just don’t cut it anymore.

Are you ready to create a resource that does work for your clients with a mobile mindset? Let’s talk.

Peter is co-founder of AgNition, corn/soy/wheat producer, and a sought-after technology thought leader who delivers workshops across Canada.