SST Changes “CIRRUS” name just before product launch
SST’s new product, initially planned to be released as SST Cirrus, will now not assume that name. While the product is currently being reevaluated for a new name to be announced soon, SST Software CEO Matt Waits said the company is excited about the power of the product.
This in-field tool takes all the power of SST products to a new level and is now available through retailers and agronomy companies. Waits said SST will be directing growers to ask their sales representatives about this daily records management tool for on-the-field access to pertinent information. “It’s fast, easy and mobile so growers can keep their day on track and have everything they need available at a glance. Field recs, data management, weather data – it’s all easily accessible in a quick-view manner on the new product,” he said.
Matt said the namelessness is not stopping the progress of rolling this out to market. So, while it’s already being tested and well received, we ran into some legalities that we felt limited us on the name itself. So, we’ll be back in touch with that soon. For information about the product, call 405-377-5334 and, for now, it’s ok if you still ask for a Cirrus representative.
Highlights from an Interview with Precision Ag Special Report
Precision Ag Special Report Question: What precision product trends do you expect will be the most popular in 2013 and why?
SST Software CEO Matt Waits: Mobile solution strategies and wireless data transfer are the hot topics right now for efficiency and ease of use. For example, we’re excited to have released the web-based Cirrus interface, with the mobile app version planned for release this summer. People are starting to grasp what “the cloud” is and be interested in having relevant data at a glance - right where they are, hassle free.
We also continue to get great feedback about the new types of reports and customization features. So, while many are going mobile, we’ve found it proves popular with our retailers and their customers to stay innovative on mapping and more.
Precision Ag Special Report Question: How is your company taking advantage of these trends with product introductions or upgrades?
SST Software CEO Matt Waits: We, at SST Software, have delivered centralized, web-based solutions for more than a decade with one of our best-known products, FarmRite. Growers save time, money and resources through FarmRite’s ability to process variable rate fertility recommendations, yield maps and other analyses. Major input supply companies are able to offer decision-support services to growers through partner companies with this product, in which agronomists can customize equations, company logos and map settings. Orders may be placed, processed and securely backed up and delivered in minutes. For more information about this proven, web-based system, visit http://sstsoftware.com/farmrite.htm.
Not only are we capitalizing on the cloud with the well established FarmRite product, but our worldwide precision agriculture software focus remains committed to continued relations with crop consultants and ag retailers such as Helena, Growmark and CPS to bring continued developments in the most advanced forms. SST Cirrus takes all the power of SST products to a new level, available through retailers and agronomy companies. We’ll be directing growers to ask the sales representative about this easy, daily records management tool for on-the-field access to pertinent information. This new Cirrus product is where sophistication meets efficiency to keep your day, and your business, on track. Field recs, data management, weather data – it’s all easily accessible in a quick-view manner on Cirrus.
So, while Cirrus is being very well received, we continue to work on our Raven advancements as Slingshot continues to be exciting to many. Providing wireless data transfer to and from the cab, this is a continued focus and we’re excited about the opportunity to work with other equipment companies to bring similar wireless technology to the market.
SST Software and Cultura Technologies Inc. announce streamlined integration to provide unprecedented work order management for ag retailers.
The project’s plan is to integrate field recommendations in SST’s product, Summit Professional, with Cultura Technologies’ agronomy management software, AgroGuide, to deliver mutual retail customers “the most robust and efficient system for creating and delivering agronomic recommendations to the field,” said SST Software CEO Matt Waits.
Utilizing Summit Professional and FarmRite, SST customers are able to collect and analyze data to support more informed, confident decision making. Summit Professional desktop software allows users to collect field records, import machine-logged data and create crop plans as well as tapping into FarmRite’s customized fertility and pesticide recommendations, in-depth analysis output and other grower-deliverables. According to Waits, the AgroGuide agronomy management system provides “an unmatched breadth of services,” including formulation, blending, crop planning, invoicing and reporting. This configurable solution increases efficiency by allowing retailers to manage related data for field services in a single system.
“This integration solves a core issue the retail market has been struggling with for years. The seamless transfer of field recommendations to a software package that manages the work order process can enable new efficiencies. With our established data standards and emerging technologies, we’re working together to make it happen. It’s exciting,” said Austin Heltne, business analyst at SST Software’s Stillwater, Oklahoma office. Lyle Hartz, director of sales & marketing at Cultura Technologies in Alpharetta, Georgia, states “The flexibility for retailers to work with two ‘best of breed’ solutions that communicate with each other is what really makes this project exceptional and is what’s needed in the industry.”
Hartz said “Both Cultura Technologies and SST Software representatives will be available at the ARA Conference and Expo November 27-29 to discuss the integration and answer questions. Cultura representatives will be located in booths 204-206 and SST will be located in booth 107. Stop by the Cultura booth to visit about this integration project and other exciting projects to be unveiled in 2013, and find out how to qualify to enter to win an iPad!”
Cultura Technologies and SST Software plan to have a beta version available for limited pilot during the first quarter of 2013. For additional information, call Cultura Technologies at 800-518-0472 or SST Software at 888-377-5334.
STILLWATER, OK (March 29, 2012) SST Software will no longer offer access to new 2012 RapidEye imagery products. Recent restructuring has brought new ownership and direction to RapidEye. After months of discussions, SST Software and RapidEye have decided to part ways. RapidEye acquired imagery from 2010 and 2011 will remain available via Summit Professional, but SST Software will not have access to 2012 RapidEye products. We find ourselves saddened at this turn of events and disappointed that our vision has encountered this setback here at the beginning of this strong growing season.
Believing that we can provide the most efficient and integrated image delivery solution in the market we are eager and committed to ensuring our users will again have access to in-season data in the near future. With an intense focus on securing a new source we have entered conversations with another in-season imagery provider, possibly announcing a partnership in the coming weeks. We recognize the unfortunate timing of this message and inconveniences that may arise. Know there is none more disappointed with the status of our imagery solution than the team at SST Software. Soon, we will be back on track with a committed provider able to acquire images globally, with repetition and substantially greater coverage.
At the onset, our goal was to build a delivery solution better than any other, one that provided an easy, seamless opportunity to search for, review, and purchase in-season imagery data. Having accomplished that goal we stand committed to this offering, diligently pursuing an alternative imagery source that will strengthen the availability of information products for our customers and their growers.
We welcome your input; you may direct your questions or comments to Jeremy Bale, Marketing Director, via email: email@example.com
SST Software To Begin Delivering In-Season Satellite Imagery
STILLWATER, OK (May 6, 2011) – The Innovation Lab at SST Software, the worldwide leader in software and data services for precision agriculture, today announced its FarmRite customers using SST Summit Professional will have the ability to preview and order in-season satellite imagery products from RapidEye to help identify nutrient needs, recognize potential risks and devise solutions supporting this season’s crops.
RapidEye, the only geospatial solutions provider to own and operate a constellation of five identical earth observation satellites, has begun tasking satellites to acquire imagery across the more than 50 million acres of crop land being managed with SST Software products. RapidEye is beginning to deliver timely, repeatable field level imagery through the Premium Services portal in SST Summit Professional. Users will preview the variability of available field imagery, purchase only those considered valuable and download them as useable, agX compliant, data layers.
Doug Weist with FarmTech in Montana knows there are many opportunities where in-season imagery can help identify areas where nutrients will benefit crops the greatest and recognize potential crop risks. “We have found crop density maps to work really well… Processed imagery helps identify zones for tissue sampling, which is used to calibrate the image data. Next, application maps are created to address differences in nitrogen across the field.” Service providers using this type of imagery are enabled to identify field level solutions and apply them before folks without imagery may even recognized a need exists and with a lot less time in the field.
Matt Waits, Vice President, SST Software has been looking forward to this for some time. “We are excited to have completed the integration of the RapidEye offering and have been thrilled with the feedback we are hearing from Growers benefiting from RapidEye imagery products.” With the recent release of Weather functionality and other integration efforts underway it is clear SST Software is committed to ensuring their customers have access to the best the industry has to offer. “With agricultures increasing demand for information products to help make informed decisions from collected data, we are excited to be helping service providers focus on the needs and expectations of their growers. Using our software and services, providers have access to tools that improve decisions and impact crop productivity through all growth stages and we look forward to announcing additional products, features, and partnerships soon.”
Repeatability is a major advantage with the products RapidEye is integrating with SST Summit. “Tasking our satellites to regularly acquire images over the field boundary footprint of SST Software will greatly improve our ability to deliver immediately valuable imagery based on customer demand.” said Clint Graumann, Head of Direct Sales at RapidEye. Clint expressed eager anticipation about the delivery of RapidEye products via SST Summit’s Premium Services adding “We regularly talk with progressive service providers already using SST Software products and services, it only makes sense for us to offer our products directly to the folks most likely to understand how to put it to use for the benefit of the Growers they support, SST Software has provided a platform these growers are already using.”
For more information about getting access to and purchasing RapidEye imagery products within SST Summit visit Premium Services.
If you are a grower and purchasing in-season imagery is of interest to you, contact your agronomic service provider and ask them to contact SST Software at 888.377.5334 to have the RapidEye imagery product assigned to their FarmRite account.
Whether you are a service provider or a grower interested in purchasing SST Summit to gain access to imagery products being offered by RapidEye, mention that you are calling because you saw the RapidEye news release and you will receive a 10% discount on your Summit Professional or Summit Basic software purchase. Offer valid between May 9, 2011 and July 31, 2011.
About RapidEye AG
RapidEye is a provider of quality high-resolution satellite imagery and derived geo-information products. With a constellation of five Earth Observation satellites, RapidEye images over 4 Million square kilometers of Earth every day and has amassed close to 2 Billion square kilometers in its archive in two years of commercial operation. With an unprecedented combination of wide area repetitive coverage and five meter pixel size multi-spectral imagery, RapidEye is a natural choice for many industries and government agencies. RapidEye: Delivering the World. www.rapideye.de
About SST Software
SST Software is a privately held agricultural data management, software development and information services provider with customers in forty-two U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces, and twenty-two countries. With 17 years of experience, SST is positioned as the worldwide leader in the development of site-specific technology infrastructure and applications, and is currently active in developing, processing and delivering user-defined information products to many of the largest and most progressive agricultural service providers in North America. www.sstsoftware.com
Raven Industries and SST Software Announce New Relationship
SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Raven Industries, Inc. (Nasdaq: RAVN), and SST Software, Inc. ("SST") today announced that the companies would build on their strategic alliance, with Raven buying a minority ownership position in SST. Financial terms were not disclosed.
In July 2009, the companies announced a strategic alliance to provide customers with simple, more efficient ways to move and manage information in the precision agriculture market. These solutions include integration of SST's AgX(TM) Platform into Raven's Viper Pro and Envizio Pro field computers. SST's AgX(TM) Platform is a standardized data structure and reference database that enables efficient in-field record keeping and seamless communication between AgX(TM) -compliant software and devices.
"SST's software suite and database structure has proven itself in the marketplace and our approaches to the precision agriculture market complement and build on each other," said Raven President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald M. Moquist. "The use of Raven high speed modems and our field computers will help provide a real-time link to SST's powerful algorithms. We anticipate that the integration of the AgX(TM) Platform will add to both company's revenues."
"Raven is a partner that agrees with our mission--providing independent information management services to our ag service providers and their farmer-customers, as they manage field inputs for maximum efficiency," noted David Waits, SST President and CEO. "Raven's robust hardware offerings and ag business perspective will help us to achieve that goal."
Matt Burkhart, General Manager of Applied Technology Division at Raven Industries emphasized, "Our ownership position in SST demonstrates our mutual commitment to deepening this strategic alliance. The combination of the AgX(TM) Platform with our field computers gives growers a platform they can depend on for the foreseeable future."
About SST Software
SST Software is a privately held agricultural software development and information services provider with customers in forty-two U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces, and twenty-two countries. With over 15 years of experience, SST is positioned as the industry leader in the development of site-specific technology infrastructure and applications, and is currently active in developing, processing and delivering user-defined information products to many of the largest and most progressive agricultural service providers in North America.
About Raven Industries, Inc.
Raven is an industrial manufacturer that provides precision agriculture products, reinforced plastic sheeting, electronics manufacturing services, and specialty aerostats and sewn products to niche markets.
Since 1978, Raven's Applied Technology Division has helped define the concept of precision agriculture and continues to create ground-breaking ideas and products that improve the position of growers around the world. Raven has earned an international reputation for agricultural innovation, product reliability and unmatched service and support. In partnership with our network of Raven dealers and distributors, we're helping growers of all sizes and all types work smarter, reduce input costs and increase yields and profitability.
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including statements regarding the expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future. Without limiting the foregoing, the words "anticipates," "believes," "expects," "intends," "may," "plans," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The company intends that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Although management believes that the expectations reflected in forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance these assumptions are correct or that these expectations will be achieved. Assumptions involve important risks and uncertainties that could significantly affect results in the future. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, satisfaction of closing conditions, weather conditions and commodity prices, which could affect some of the company's primary markets, such as agriculture; or changes in competition, raw material availability, technology or relationships with the company's largest customers--any of which could adversely affect any of the company's product lines--as well as other risks described in Raven's 10-K under Item 1A. This list is not exhaustive, and the company does not have an obligation to revise any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date these statements are made.
On the Internet, information is available on the company's Web site, www.ravenind.com.
SST Software and Raven Industries Form Strategic Alliance
July 20, 2009 – SST Software and Raven Industries have formed a strategic alliance to provide customers with simple, more efficient ways to move and manage information for the precision agriculture market. The first of these solutions will be the integration of SST’s AgX Platform into Raven’s field computers such as the Viper Pro and Envizio Pro. The AgX Platform is a standardized data structure and reference database that enables efficient in-field record keeping and seamless communication between AgX-compliant software and devices.
“We believe this collaboration will bring many efficiencies to our respective customers both in ease-of-use of record keeping and in communicating recommendations and as-applied data between the desktop and the field,” says David Waits, SST President/CEO.
Matt Burkhart, General Manager of Applied Technology Division at Raven Industries adds, “By coupling the AgX Platform with our field computers, this integration will ease the burden customers have experienced for years as it relates to data management.”
About SST Software SST Software is a privately held agricultural software development and information services provider with customers in forty-two U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces, and twenty-two countries. With over 15 years of experience, SST is positioned as the industry leader in the development of site-specific technology infrastructure and applications, and is currently active in developing, processing and delivering user-defined information products to many of the largest and most progressive agricultural service providers in North America.
About Raven Industries
Since 1978, Raven has helped define the concept of precision agriculture-and continues to create ground-breaking ideas and products that improve the position of growers around the world. Raven is publicly traded on NASDAQ (RAVN) and has earned an international reputation for agricultural innovation, product reliability and unmatched service and support. From field computers to boom controls, from GPS guidance to steering systems, Raven is leading the way for precision ag technology that delivers in the field. In partnership with our network of Raven dealers and distributors, we're helping growers of all sizes and all types work smarter, reduce input costs and increase yields and profitability. Success in farming has always been about using less and getting more. With Raven, you can simply do it better
Greenbook Licenses Crop Protection Product Data to SST Software
July 15, 2009 - The Greenbook Group®, the industry standard provider of chemical plant protection data to the agriculture industry for over 25 years, announced it entered into a premium data licensing partnership with SST Software, a leading precision-ag software company. Under the agreement, Greenbook will license its entire chemical input product database to SST Software for integration across the SST Summit software suite.
“We at the Greenbook Group are so pleased to have been selected as the recognized standard in chemical product data as evidenced by our inclusion in the AgX Platform developed by SST Software,” said AnnMarie Wills, General Manager of The Greenbook Group. “The Greenbook Group was the first to standardize crop chemical information, and we continue alone in our ongoing mission to provide the most flexible, relevant, and authoritative dataset in the industry.”
As crop producers continue to seek out additional ways to leverage field-specific data collection and analysis to maximize profits, The Greenbook Group® and SST Software partnership seeks to fill that growing need. “ By partnering with Greenbook we are able to offer our customers more efficient access to the product label information they need in the ever-increasing regulatory environment in which they operate,” says David Waits, SST Software President/CEO.
The Greenbook chemical data set will be implemented into SST’s Summit precision-ag software suite, which impacts over 26 million acres in North America . According to Ms. Wills, industry acceptance of the Greenbook data architecture was inevitable. “The integration of Greenbook data and structure with the SST suite of products and now the industry standard AgX Platform is a perfect match and natural progression for our product,” she said.
About The Greenbook Group A division of Vance Publishing Corp., The Greenbook Group® has produced chemical crop protection data reference manuals for more than 25 years and has long been considered a staple resource for chemical input data in the agriculture industry. In addition, the company produces chemical crop protection software products, delivers chemical data to more than 50,000 registered users at Greenbook.net, and impacts thousands of chemical input decisions daily across the universe of ag-industry professionals via 3 rd party software integration.
About SST Software SST Software is a privately held agricultural software development and information services provider with customers in forty-two U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces, and twenty-two countries. With over 15 years of experience, SST Software is positioned as the industry leader in the development of site-specific technology infrastructure and applications, and is currently active in developing, processing and delivering user-defined information products to any of the largest and most progressive agricultural service providers in North America.
July 14, 2009 - SST Software President/CEO, David Waits, was honored with the Precision Ag Legacy Award during the opening plenary session at the 2009 InfoAg Conference in Springfield, IL.
The award recognizes an individual who has made extensive contributions to precision agriculture over the course of his/her career.
The Precision Ag Awards of Excellence program, sponsored by the PrecisionAg Institute, sheds light on some of the most important people and programs that have helped agriculture realize the full benefits of technology to improve agronomy, efficiency, and stewardship in crop production.
by Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of Meister Media Worldwide PrecisionAg.com
August 22, 2008
In last week’s enews I ran an item about a new precision ag technology training facility, the Prairie State Technology Center, just outside Champaign, IL. Since I was at the Midwest Ag Industries Expo less than an hour away in Bloomington, I decided to make a side trip and see what these folks are up to.
I sat down with the two guys that have been responsible for driving the project thus far, Jeremy Wilson of the crop consulting company CropIMS, and John Fishel, director of operations for the technology sales company PrecisionAg Equipment.
I was pretty impressed … these folks are truly dedicated to education on precision technology, and have basically turned an abandoned seed research outpost into a cool training facility in about five months’ time. The facility is being used by precision companies SST and AutoFarm, which have provided assistance and support of technology at the facility and who are using it for training their dealers and growers.
What’s nice is the facility allows for classroom training using actual equipment and software the trainees will be using in the field. After an hour of basic training, the trainees are dispatched to the field in fully equipped ATVs to gather data. They then return to the indoor training room to learn how to work with the data.
I’m not aware of any other facility like this providing training on precision technology … but if you’re out there and doing it, I would love to hear from you – and about you. You can send me a private message by clicking on this email address link, or post in the blog below.
To read the original article, please visit PrecisionAg.com by clicking here
To learn more about the Prairie State Technology Center, click here
SST Software happens to sell and develop precision ag software, but to be accurate, they are not just a software company.
"The whole purpose of SST is to process and manage data for service provider organizations. We take data and produce meaningful information products that in turn can be provided to farmer-customers. We sell software, but that's not all we're about," says David Waits, SST CEO.
With the release of their Web-based SST FarmRite standardized data program, the company can no longer be "pigeon holed" as a company that only sells software. "We're turning more into an information services company. Clients give us order specifications, and we will create their maps and reports and immediately send it back to them. So its like users doing it themselves but not actually doing button pushing; they tell us what they want, and we pop it right back to them." says Mark Waits, SST marketing manager and David's son.
In becoming an information management company, SST has seen its business concept do a full circle from centralized data management to decentralized and back to centralized. Originally, the goal of the company was to process site-specific data for growers using already existing GIS software. "Our idea was to process collected data into deliverables or information products agriculturists' specify and then send it back to them," says David Waits.
"In the early years, as SST attempted to sell information services to big corporate farmers, it became more and more apparent that generic software was too difficult to be used for agricultural applications," says Mark Waits. Realizing the need for software adapted to agricultural needs, the company began transitioning to the development of agricultural GIS software. During the mid to late 1990's, SST's focus was on developing desktop software and training customers to process data themselves.
David Waits developed an interest in GIS and merging geo-techniques with production agriculture while attending graduate school. He had previously spent 10 years farming in western Kansas in the 70s and early 80s and decided to do something different. In 1994, he opened SST in Stillwater, Okla. after spending five years on faculty at Oklahoma State teaching GIS and remote sensing.
The GIS desktop software, SSToolbox, was unveiled in 1996. SSToolbox proved to be an early success, and it still is one of the most extensively used GIS software programs for production agriculture. The company has expanded its workforce to 37 employees, and to better service their customers in the North Central Midwest, a service center has been opened in West Lebanon, Ind.
In 2005, the SST FarmRite Network was released after years of development, and it completes the circle for SST being a centralized data management company. "It turns out our original thinking was the right thinking," says David Waits. By collecting and standardizing data, large amounts of information can be exchanged seamlessly on the Web and not transferred one file at a time. "Large service provider organizations like our approach because when they have multiple retail locations, they want everyone in the organization doing things the same way," says David Waits.
Foresight has allowed SST to envision and understand upcoming trends in the highly competitive and evolving technology sector. The senior Waits says, "We've been very adaptable to the marketplace. We've done a good job of seeing the trends and getting positioned to meet demands that may not be there for two or three years."
Farming is information intense. So intense, companies have now built successful businesses providing agricultural information management systems.
One such company is SST, based out of Stillwater, Okla.
Incorporated in 1994, SST has developed software and methods to help agribusinesses and farming operations gather, store and organize information. The company works primarily with crop consultants and crop input companies who, in turn, work with growers to collect consistent data and make smart precision farming decisions.
“SST creates efficiency and it does that by centralizing data processing, data storage and product definition,” said Matt Waits, SST operations manager.
If you are a large agronomy company or cooperative with 40 locations that wants to offer precision agriculture:
- Do you hire, train and pay a skilled Global Information Systems (GIS) specialist for each location?
- Does every farmer working with a specific location use the same precision agriculture software and equipment? How do you get computers to read all those different types of software and information collection systems available?
- How do you make sure that precision agriculture data collected on each farm is getting backed up?
“You can easily end up with a bunch of independent data bases out there, with no way to communicate between locations, no way to communicate to management, and no way to communicate with the grower,” said Waits.
The company developed several products to help agronomists and companies better serve grower-customers while increasing efficiency and profitability for their farming enterprise.
SST promotes data consistency, standard formats, and seamless integration of its products with other hardware, software and equipment in the ag industry.
Their tools include:
- SST FarmRite Network that creates efficiencies by allowing agronomists to access all of the capabilities of a GIS, saving the agronomist the time, the investment and the learning curve of developing a data processing system.
The Network offers web-enabled data sharing and an information product ordering system. Using secure Internet access, customers have the ability to view their spatial data and information products, and query a user-defined data pool.
- SST Summit Plus & SST Stratus offer crop planning, recordkeeping and scouting software for both agronomists and farmers. The software is designed to use on a desktop or handheld computer for complete GPS mapping, intensive recordkeeping, detailed reporting, crop scouting and seamless data transfer.
Using the SST software, crop consultants and growers can make a map of a field showing areas of profitability and loss.
The agronomy team can review price scenarios for applying a product at a straight rate vs. a rate by management zone vs. a variable rate application to find out how to get the most value.
The grower can also receive a map and a report by email from a crop scout detailing observations from earlier in the day.
The crop consultant can provide information regarding assessing average yield by soil type. They can also quickly create reports that describe in words and with maps what chemical applications were made, including the applicator's name, the chemical names, the field location, when the chemical was applied and what quantities and methods were used.
“What you end up with is less focus on technology, and more focus on the core competencies such as agronomy and sales and customer service,” said Waits.
A large portion of precision agriculture focuses on variable rate technology.
Using SST technology, a crop consultant or agronomy agency could use the SST Summit software to create digitized field boundary maps using online imagery.
The consultant and the producer could then name each field and input other identifying information. The field data could be downloaded to a handheld personal digital assistant or laptop.
Using SST Stratus, an individual could collect locations of grid samples, management zones or polygon soil sampling data out in the field. The GPS location where information has been taken from is recorded in the handheld device. That data can be loaded back onto the desktop computer.
“We've made a system here where there's no file management,” said Waits. “The data is just synchronized back and forth.”
The individual sends off the soil samples to the soil test lab, and he gets back the results. The results are imported into the appropriate mapped fields.
The SST FarmRite Network allows the consultant to then ask SST for results regarding the information that has been collected. Depending on what level of service the customer signed up for, SST will provide back information.
First, the SST server in Stillwater, Okla., determines if all data entry fields are filled with appropriate information.
The server then processes the data and within a matter of seconds or minutes, the needed data is available and synchronized right into SST Summit.
The crop consultant can immediately evaluate the recommendation and make edits based on additional information.
Once the crop plan satisfies the crop consultant, the grower/producer and the chemical applicator, the information can be transferred directly to the variable rate sprayer for chemical field application.
After the field is sprayed, the information is available to the farmer, the crop consultant and the agronomy company if appropriate.
“The crop consultant can print and deliver maps to farmers; or they can deliver the maps electronically,” said Waits.
The real value of the SST software comes when the crop consultant and the farmer begin to layer maps, and they can determine the factors that are affecting yield and quality.
“If we get the grower to participate in collecting data - what varieties they plant, what seed rates, what application days - we can end up with aggregate data,” said Waits. “Standardization is the key to surmounting barriers to data collection by creating formal exchange standards and allowing the seamless transfer of data between users.”
Ag professionals are concentrating on their core competencies and leaving the data processing to SST.
For years now, ag professionals have used stand alone GIS software to create yield maps, variable rate recommendations, and other common precision agriculture applications. But as information is transferred between users and these applications are deployed across larger organizations, it is often hard to manage the data appropriately. Problems normally fall into the following categories: efficiency, consistency, standardization, accessibility, and reliability. The SST FarmRite Network makes life easier by solving these problems.
Efficiency - GIS is a powerful and useful technology, but it can be expensive, time-consuming, and difficult for staff to adopt and implement company-wide. SST FarmRite creates efficiency by allowing ag professionals access to all of the capabilities of a GIS, without the time investment and learning curve of doing the data processing themselves. They also stay within their core competency of offering agronomic expertise, while outsourcing the “button-pushing” to SST’s highly-trained staff.
Consistency – By participating in the SST FarmRite® Network, ag professionals are ensured that all information products created are consistent in quality throughout their organization. All products will be generated using their company-specified agronomic equations, procedures, and settings such as logos, legends, and company colors. Of course, users always retain local control as changes are made to rates, products, etc. All farmer-customers will receive consistent deliverables while management gains a better understanding of what is taking place within its organization.
Standardization – SST has surmounted barriers to data sharing and analysis by creating SST FarmRite Network geographic and data collection standards, which allow users to query company-wide information across all farms (with the growers' written consent). By using the extensive SST Reference Database found in SST Summit and SST Stratus, they can rest assured that everyone in the organization is collecting data in the same manner - which is critical for reporting, benchmarking, and advanced analysis. SST’s system of constantly updating the reference database ensures each customer that the data they need will be available in the system.
Accessibility – With authorization, data can be accessed by multiple participants from any Internet connection. With permission granted, a grower, retailer, and crop consultant could all have access to the same data and reports. Users also have full control on which pieces of data they want to share, if any. On the data collection side of things, using SST Summit and SST Stratus, different data elements can be collected by different people on the same field. For instance, a grower can record the variety or hybrid that was planted on the field on a certain day, at a certain rate and certain depth, while a crop consultant records a weed infestation and seamlessly transfers a herbicide recommendation to the grower.
Reliability – The SST FarmRite® Network provides an information management system that will remain steady despite a company’s internal personnel changes. For over 10 years, SST has successfully served technology products and services to the agriculture industry and that service will continue.
SST has been delivering solutions to production agriculture for more than a decade. The company’s offerings include a full line of GIS software: SSToolbox ®, SSToolboxLite ® and SSToolkit ®. In addition, three levels of farm record keeping and field data collection software are available for ag retailers, crop consultants, farm managers, and farmers: SST Summit Professional ®, SST Summit Plus ®!, and SST Summit ®. Contact SST today for a free 30-day demo version of SST Summit/Stratus by calling 1-888-377-5334 or send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does precision agriculture look like now and what could it look like in the future for ag retailers and growers? Apply recently posed these questions to some providers and users of precision ag tools. Here’s what they had to say.
“We have seen a resurgence in the interest of even the basics of precision agriculture — farmers finally understand that there’s value in grid soil sampling and yield maps,” says Steve Cubbage, president, Record Harvest, Nevada, Mo. Established in 1997, Record Harvest specializes in precision agriculture from equipment to software to services. The company is a Master Dealer for Ag Leader products and a premier dealer for Trimble Agriculture and Water Management products. It also sells Mid-Tech, Rawson and Dickey-John equipment and software from SST and Ag Leader. Record Harvest’s service division is one of its fastest growing businesses.
Farmers who have had yield monitors for years are now also installing GPS units to map their fields and truly understand every acre. “Having a yield monitor without GPS is like buying a car without wheels,” says Cubbage. “You can make the speedometer go up and down, but you can’t go anywhere with it. We believe that yield maps are the Holy Grail of precision agriculture data. When we sell a yield monitor, we help program all the fields and varieties into the monitor for the client. Then we offer free yield mapping for the first year. We want the customer to be as successful as possible collecting data the first year and then to have maps when he’s done. After the first year, we offer a flat-fee yield mapping service that frees the grower from the headaches of software and yield mapping while ensuring year-to-year data integrity.”
Many of the services that Record Harvest offers grew out of Cubbage’s own farming operation. He began using a yield monitor on the farm and hired grid-sampling services by his local ag dealer. “It seemed like everyone wanted to sell you a piece of equipment or a service, but no one wanted to put it together. Out of necessity, Record Harvest was born.”
As far as the future, Cubbage believes that precision agriculture will have to become simpler and even more user friendly. While precision ag tools may become simpler, ag retailers will need to devote more resources to making precision ag work, says Cubbage. This will prove challenging to many dealerships since many cannot justify an in-house precision ag program, he adds. “Many have tried this and it hasn’t worked. You can’t have the individual who’s running your GIS program being pulled out to run anhydrous tanks to farmers when he should be soil sampling.”
As a result, there may be more third-party firms providing precision services to retailers. We’ve promoted this to independent input retailers who cannot justify an in-house precision program,” says Cubbage, who has developed an online system that allows clients to upload raw soil and yield data for processing. The system allows the retailer to provide specific information, such as what fertilizer the customer wants, yield goal and the type of application equipment to be used.
Record Harvest bundles the processed files and uploads them to the retailer’s on-line account. The retailer can then download the file, put it on a memory card, put it in the truck and spread the variable rate prescription, explains Cubbage. Upon completion of the application, the dealer uploads the as-applied data to the same account for a complete record of what was done.
Archiving information will become increasingly important for growers and retailers as more government programs require GPS records. “We’re already starting to see this in some of USDA’s voluntary nutrient management programs,” says Cubbage, adding that some programs could become mandatory in the next farm bill. “If this happens, there will be a sense of urgency in the precision agriculture business that we have never witnessed before.”
Dick Heilmann, plant manager, CPS, Hamler, Ohio, agrees that precision ag tools will become increasingly important in nutrient management programs. Heilmann’s northwestern Ohio fertilizer plant offers grid sampling, variable rate fertilizer and lime application and yield mapping analysis. The CPS location also sells Trimble guidance systems to customers wanting to optimize their fertilizer and lime application programs.
Prices for some of these precision ag technologies are coming down, which should enable more retailers and growers to utilize them in the future. In some cases, prices will remain somewhat the same, but the customer will be getting more of a package, says Heilmann. Some Trimble lightbars, for example, now come along with a screen and an easy steer unit, he says.
“Prices have come down and the technology has gotten so much better over the years,” adds Cubbage. “Autosteer technology is the biggest surprise for us. If someone five years ago would have said that the automated steering market would have made up 45 to 50 percent of our sales, I couldn’t have even told them what autosteer technology was. This technology has come on like a streak of lightning.”
Prices have come down to the point where it works for most of mainstream agriculture, although some people will wait another year to see if prices will drop more, says Cubbage.
“Ag retailers, however, will have to adopt these technologies today and not tomorrow if they are to be successful in a very competitive business,” Cubbage continues. “Producers are demanding that their retailers are on-board with variable-rate technologies and understand how it all works. Fertilizer and inputs are too costly to apply in a broad brush like the masses have done for years.” This is one reason that the automatic boom shutoff is currently a popular item. It can save producers and ag retailers nearly seven percent in total applied product, says Cubbage.
A Bright Future
With higher input prices and tightening margins, growers will demand higher efficiencies and will look to precision ag technologies to help them achieve those efficiencies, suggests Gabe Moudy, South Plains Precision Ag, Plainview, Texas. Because of this and because fewer farmers will be managing many more acres, he envisions a bright future for precision ag technologies.
South Plains Precision Ag offers four main precision ag services: aerial imagery, soil conductivity, yield mapping for cotton growers and GPS mapping for drip irrigation management. The company services about six million acres in 13 counties in West Texas and two counties in New Mexico.
Monitoring crop protection product application rates is an important function of precision ag, says Goudy. He adds that his company uses infrared imagery to monitor growth regulator applications as well as weed situations in cotton at least twice a season.
The company overlays soil maps, yield maps and maps from aerial imagery to help growers see variability in their crops and to help them make appropriate management decisions. In the future, Goudy would like to see more precision ag technology being used to do variable rate irrigation because water is so key to variability in crops. In some parts of the country, it also is the most expensive input.
A Major Differentiator
“The adoption and continual focus on upgrading ag retailer skills with respect to selling and servicing precision ag products could be a major differentiator,” says Emily Harringa, communications specialist, John Deere Ag Management Solutions (AMS), Urbandale, Iowa. “Retailers that move forward with the technology now, implement processes to stay current with quickly changing technology, and display a level of expertise will be sought out by growers as their preferred supplier of precision ag technologies.”
John Deere Ag Management Solutions was originally known as the “John Deere Precision Farming Group,” which began operations in 1993 in Moline, Ill. In 2000, the company’s Precision Farming Group and Global Vehicle Communications (GVC) Group were merged to form Ag Management Solutions, and AMS was relocated to Urbandale, Iowa in 2001.
AMS products include:
Documentation (software): GreenStar™ Field Doc, GreenStar Harvest Doc, Harvest Doc Cotton, Map Based Prescriptions;
Hardware: Original GreenStar display, GreenStar 2 Display 2600, AutoTrac Universal Steering Kit, StarFire™ position receiver;
GPS On/Off (software): Swath Control Pro; and
Signal: StarFire (SF) 1, SF2, StarFire Real Time Kinamatic (RTK)
More recently, the company introduced the GreenStar (GS) 2 Rate Controller (for pull-type sprayers) which automates spray rate control. Spraying operations are viewed via the GreenStar 2 display 2600. The iGuide brings GPS guidance to implements to reduce “drifting” when operating on hills and slopes. Finally, the iTEC Pro™ allows integrated AutoTrac users to operate “hands-free” at headland turns and field boundaries.
Retailers that offer expertise on guidance products are in good stead right now because of this technology’s popularity, Harringa indicates. “When using an automatic guidance product, such as GreenStar AutoTrac, field passes are more accurate than even an experienced operator can achieve. Users can work longer hours and cover more tasks because drivers don’t have to rely on daylight to steer. Financially, precision application means less wasted inputs, and accurate passes equate to fewer skipped rows and less overlap.”
The price of GreenStar AutoTrac SF1 also has come down. “AMS is able to offer automatic guidance with +/- 13 inch accuracy with no cost for the SF1 signal. In the past, there was a charge for the subscription for all levels of accuracy,” says Harringa. “The trend with most technology is for the price to come down as market adoption increases and the technology itself costs less to provide.”
Prices of GPS and guidance products have come down gradually over the last 10 years, observes Jeff Bentley, DirectCommand sales manager, Ag Leader, Ames, Iowa. Ag Leader manufactures and markets a variety of precision ag products, including rate controllers, guidance systems and software systems. Released last year, the Insight DirectCommand TM system has been well received by retailers, says Bentley. This system controls and records rates on sprayers and fertilizer spreaders and features the AutoSwath TM automatic boom on/off control and Smart Report TM application report.
Bentley adds that ag retailers have rapidly adopted guidance products for their own businesses because they have seen “immediate advantages in using lightbars instead of foam markers.”
Controllers have been adopted at a slower pace, says Bentley. “Several retail locations have been setting up applicators with monitors capable of recording rates and controlling rates based off of prescriptions. The rate of adoption seems to be driven somewhat by customer demand.”
In the area of information management, ag retailers are strengthening relationships with customers by providing enhanced information and more efficient communication, says Mark Waits, marketing manager, SST Software, Stillwater, Okla. “By helping growers make better decisions, ag retailers become advisors in addition to service providers.”
Founded in 1994, SST Development Group develops and markets data collection and information management software and services, including:
Through the use of standardized data formats, SST customers can “synchronize” field data with any other SST Summit user with the click of a button. An ag retailer can record scouting information on a grower’s field and “sync” it with the rest of the grower’s field data. With the grower’s permission, both the grower and the retailer will have access to all historical data recorded on the grower’s farm. “The result is a strengthened relationship between the retailer and the customer and better future decision-making based on the increased historical records,” says Waits.
Automated data processing technologies
Using the same synchronization technology (SyncNow), a retailer can upload field boundaries and soil test results to the SST FarmRite account, place orders on those fields and receive information products in the form of VRT recommendations, maps and statistical analyses. “In the past, creating these information products at the local ag retailer level was time-consuming and costly. Now, automated processing via Web-enabled services delivers products in just minutes, freeing personnel to concentrate on service and sales,” says Waits.
Automated seed placement software program. “EnVision” recommends the placement of seed hybrids and varieties most compatible with the various soil types. By matching seed/soil characteristics from the NRCS SSurgo Data with seed companies’ placement categories, EnVision generates 24 maps detailing the recommendations.
Real-time aggregate data pooling will likely increase in the future, says Waits. With many ag retailers and growers collecting standardized data, it will be possible to pool the data in a decision support program. The owners of the data, while remaining anonymous, could give permission to have their data pooled into a large database with other growers in their region. All participants would have access to the database and be able to query the data, says Waits.
Precision ag tools are getting more user-friendly, but remain complicated. It can be overwhelming for those just entering the field of precision or wanting to step up to more complex technologies like autosteer or advanced data analysis, says Cubbage. Therefore, companies that can help walk their customers through new and existing technologies will likely see their businesses grow. But, this will require knowledgeable staff and a fair amount of time and money to evaluate what works and what does not.
Fortunately, prices for precision ag tools appear to be coming down. This coupled with a growing need by growers to manage their margins could spell a bright future for retailers offering precision ag services.
SST's latest product and service, called FarmRite, allows ag professionals to access all the capabilities of GIS without having to do the data processing. SST does the processing, but with each company or professional's agronomic equations, procedures, and settings. Users retain local control as changes are made to rates, products, etc. As a result, farmer-customers receive consistent information, and management gains a better understanding of what is taking place in the organization.
Multiple users with authorization may query the FarmRite Network from any Internet connection; a grower, retailer, and crop consultant may all have access to the same data and reports.
Until FarmRite, ag professionals used stand-alone GIS software to create yield maps, variable-rate recommendations, and other common precision agriculture applications. Managing the data across different applications and in larger organizations has become difficult. The new SST product solves the problems of managing the data.