Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company (FAC) realized they needed a data platform to more efficiently schedule the jobs of their applicators in order to increase the asset utilization rate and decrease the dead miles and waiting time.
After researching and trialling a number of different agricultural data platforms, FAC evaluated Agworld and realized that by utilizing Agworld not only can they improve their asset utilization rate, but also use the platform to organize the rest of their work flow from in-field recommendation through to billing in their Oakland Accounting System.
Because FAC now uses Agworld, they are able to better schedule their application equipment, making them more efficient and keeping costs as low as possible. All staff at FAC now know exactly which jobs still need to be performed and can see the exact parameters of each job on their iPad, minimizing the risk of errors during the application process and maximizing the chances to make efficiency gains.
Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company
Type:Ag Retail Cooperative
Crops:Corn, soybeans, alfalfa, pasture
A local cooperative with a long history
Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company (FAC) was founded in 1937 by farmers in the Arcadia, IA area and originally specialized in grain, coal, lumber, livestock, farm produce and supplies, and flour and feed mills. Fast forward to today, the cooperative now boasts 3 locations in central western Iowa, realizing over $100 million in revenue per annum with over 75 employees, specializing in grain, agronomy, feed, lumber and petroleum.
FAC’s agronomy activities are run from two locations, Westside, IA and Schleswig, IA, with Westside also covering the agronomy activities for the Arcadia area. The main crops grown in the local area are corn, soybeans and alfalfa, with some land used as pasture as well. As part of the cooperative’s agronomy activities, seeding and application services are offered to growers, with a number of different assets working throughout the local area for most of the season according to Westside based agronomist Derek Ketelsen: “We offer a full-service agronomy package to our growers, from soil sampling and crop checking through to (variable rate) recommendations and applications; we’re their one-stop shop.”
Derek continues: “Because fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide applications are a big part of what we do from an agronomy perspective, we started to look around for a platform that can help us schedule our jobs more efficiently and assist us in increasing our asset utilization rate. We wanted to be able to look at a map to see our ‘to-do jobs’ so we can group these jobs based on location, the specific task required, or the fertilizer blend used so we can more efficiently line our spreaders and trucks up for these jobs instead of our equipment constantly running back and forth. After looking at a variety of different providers, we decided that Agworld was the best fit for our cooperative and we therefore implemented Agworld.”
After making the decision to join the Agworld platform, the team at FAC started to implement Agworld in the fall of 2020, explains Derek: “We started with our 2020 fall soil sampling in Agworld and from there have done all of our soil sampling, variable rate recommendations and scheduling through Agworld since. We initially thought that we would ‘ease into’ using Agworld but, pretty shortly into the 2021 fertilizer season, we ended up strictly using Agworld only as our platform, for both our anhydrous and dry fertilizer.”
Derek: “The same goes for our liquid applications - we were going to walk before we run, but that lasted for about a day; we just started strictly using Agworld as our work order system for the liquid applications pretty much right off the bat. What impressed me the most about Agworld is how well our operators have picked it up and how much they like using Agworld. Some of them hardly know how to use a smartphone but they love using Agworld on the iPad in their cab; the fact that they have picked it up so easily is a testament to how easy-to-use and intuitive Agworld is, in my opinion.”
Derek continues: “We told our applicators and sprayer operators initially to take both the iPad with Agworld and a paper copy of the order with them in the morning so that they always have a backup. It didn’t take long though for the guys to stop taking paper copies with them altogether and they just love using Agworld now - they have told me that they never want to go back to using paper copies again! In the beginning, we were a bit apprehensive of how steep the learning curve was going to be and how fast we could get Agworld implemented, but we are thoroughly impressed with both Agworld and the implementation process within our organization.”
Improving workflow and efficiency
One of the features that sets Agworld apart from other software providers for FAC according to Derek, is its integration with their accounting software provider Oakland: “We now have a workflow where our data flows seamlessly from creating an order in the field with Agworld all the way through into our billing system (Oakland). This means that we don’t have to manually enter our bills anymore in our billing system, and so we have less chance of errors occurring, next to saving us a lot of time throughout the season as well. Oakland is our accounting and inventory system, so it’s important to keep it 100% accurate at all times.”
The big gains for FAC in using Agworld have come in the form of efficiency gains, says Derek: “Agworld is now the platform that we use to guide all our day-to-day operations with; scheduling, fertilizing, spraying, etc. During the growing season I take my iPad into the field to do my scouting and, after talking to the growers to formulate a plan, I turn the recommendation into a work order on Agworld and send it straight to the sprayer operator. And not only our applicator operators have an iPad with Agworld in their cab, but the tender truck drivers as well. Because of this, they know where the next job is, have got directions to the exact field available, and know exactly which products they need. This results in quicker fill times for our applicators and less time spent waiting at the side of a field.”
Derek continues: “We all know how expensive agricultural equipment is, and so it’s important to utilize our assets as efficiently as possible throughout the season in order to ensure that we generate the best results possible for the members of our cooperative. On Agworld we can constantly monitor the number of acres left to spray for example and ensure that we are using the right assets for each job. If we decide to bring one sprayer back early because we don’t have much work left for the day, the guys in the field don’t need to exchange a bunch of paperwork anymore; I can just rebook the jobs on Agworld right from my desk and get everything organized as efficiently as possible.”
“What Agworld brings to FAC are efficiency gains that we can build into our workflow throughout the business. Less mistakes throughout our workflow, higher equipment utilization rates, and clear channel of communication between our staff means that Agworld is now an integral part of Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company,” concludes Derek.
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