- Contributed Article
Trimble Streamlines, Relaunches Ag App
by Gerlyn Terzo
Trimble’s Agriculture Division has combined a trio of its product offerings into a single platform. Trimble Ag Software is a web, desktop and mobile app that was designed in response to farmer demand for greater mobile capabilities. The new product was rolled out in recent days at the 2016 Trimble Dimensions User Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Trimble Ag Software has been in production for more than a year and targets farmers, crop advisors as well as agriculture retailers and food processors. The new product is an enhanced version of three former solutions – Farm Works Software for mapping and accounting services, Connected Farm for the cloud, hardware and fleet management, and mobile app Agri-Data for farm-management and agronomy services.
Ben Allen, Enterprise Solutions Lead for Trimble’s Agriculture Division, tells Oilseed & Grain News that Trimble has taken all of those products, combined them into one and relaunched as Trimble Ag Software. “The new and expanded product is wider and deeper than anything offered before,” says Allen. “It has a much heavier phone capability [including] native mobile apps for iOS and Android.”
In particular, the functionality is more streamlined. “It’s very end-to-end,” says Allen. For instance, farmers can check the weather, connect to equipment, introduce imagery from other sources, as well as perform budgeting and sales contracts. “It’s an all-encompassing platform, and that’s more important than ever as farming gets more complex,” says Allen, pointing to a move on the farm level toward precision practices.
“Precision practices are concept-focused and they require different levels of automation. The app is part of this and hardware and equipment are part of it. Connecting those different pieces is important,” he adds.
Boise, Idaho-based agribusiness J.R. Simplot has been a long-term user of Agri Data Solutions, which Trimble acquired last year and which is a key component of Trimble Ag Software. Craig Holcombe, Senior Director of Procurement at Simplot, tells Oilseed & Grain News that Simplot uses Trimble’s software to manage its potato crop, which spans more than 85,000 acres across North America. In fact, Simplot partnered with Trimble to co-develop the potato management software.
“A key element of the software is the compliance piece where we monitor all applications made to the crop to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met, as well as the field scout functionality for crop progress during the growing season, and a new storage module for post-harvest management,” says Holcombe.
Simplot also uses Trimble’s software for its crop management in China and Australia.
Farmers Demand Mobile
The decision to combine Trimble’s trio of agriculture products was in direct response to feedback that Allen and his team received from farmers who indicated they were looking for more mobile phone capabilities.
“It’s difficult to ask farmers to spend more computer time. They lead very mobile lives and are busy with trucks and tractors … worried about fuel and feed. Their mobile lives do not fit well with office computer screens,” Allen explains, adding that the Trimble team is working to support this demand aggressively.
Nonetheless, not all farmers are taking full advantage of the industry’s technology advances. For instance, some farmers continue to turn to multiple providers for hardware and software, which can create challenges moving data from one source to another.
“This can burn a lot of time. Anytime there’s integration work it’s high effort and low return. And if you buy a lot of different products and tech from many different vendors, your integration burden is high. This is true for big and small farms,” says Allen, adding that Trimble seeks to lower farmers’ integration burden by offering a single tool so farmers can move data around seamlessly. “That’s important and it’s something our new product and expanded feature set and mobile app support more than ever.”
Meanwhile, other farmers are even further behind. “Not all farmers are connected. There’s still a lot of Excel, lots of paper in agriculture. But that’s continuing to change over rapidly,” says Allen, again pointing to precision ag as a key driver.
He goes on to equate the farming industry and technology to the conditions for mechanics and hydraulics in the 1980s. “It was messy until the industry found more standardization. Agriculture has had a similar struggle over the years with hardware and software, but we’ve taken a big step forward with this launch.”
Trimble, which is also known for its hardware displays and GPS systems, is no stranger to agriculture and has been serving this customer segment for decades. “We understand their day-to-day work challenges and needs, and this comes back to the time we spend with them and the dialog with those customers on an ongoing basis. Our desire is to serve them better and help them to be successful. We care about helping farmers use technology in a way that benefits their business and improves their lives.”