Young team making ag data headway

Jesse Vollmar speaks at high speed and with an energy that shows he's enthusiastic about his topic. He's also clear that his company - FarmLogs - is a software company that works in agriculture and not an ag company trying to make software work. Recently, Vollmar's company announced that more than 15% of the nation's row crop farms are now using its data platform.

The announcement notes that in just two years since its launch the firm has gained customers in all 50 states and 130 countries across six continents. And it now has more than $11 billion in crops under management, which has tripled in less than six months.

FarmLogs is a software provider and for now its customer base can access all of its services for free. You read that right, free. "We give out our product for free right now and we're working with our customers to develop new tools for them," Vollmar tells Farm Industry News. "We're working to build out tools that offer incredible value."

And based on our conversation there are new tools in the works that will add value for customers, but are more than likely going to come with a charge. Vollmar is looking at a range of areas where FarmLogs can add value, but the company already provides a number of free services that maximize your smartphone and tablet for farm management.

The key is that FarmLogs is a software company, not a hardware firm, and the idea of "moving files" is dated for this forward-thinking operation. The data should already be accessible as soon as you've collected it in the field. And that's the aim.

But there's a lot more data out there than just your yield information, Vollmar says. Soil data, weather information and other details are available on a field by field basis. There are public databases that can be used to build valuable models and enhance field-by-field information for growers. From soil type information - which FarmLogs has taken and improved by adding elevation data; to weather information that can is correlated on a field by field basis so you can know just how much rain you've really gotten in a season.

FarmLogs is based in Ann Arbor, Mich., but that’s not where it started. Silicon Valley was home at the beginning but Vollmar, who grew up on a farm, thought it made sense to get closer to the target customer in the Midwest. "We wanted to be closer to the farmer so we moved," he says.

Vollmar and his co-founder, Brad Koch, have grown their fledgling company to employ 18 people but they don't have titles like agronomist or ag mechanic. Instead they have titles like "software developer" or "Android developer."

I had a little fun with Jesse during the call - after looking at the company staff list on the website's About page - when I asked if there was anyone working there over 40. He admitted that one employee might be near 40. Youth are returning to agriculture, perhaps not directly to the farm, but in ways that will help ag for the future. This is exciting stuff, it's a young team that's working on developing systems so your farm data will work for your operation. "Data has little use unless you analyze it," Vollmar says.

Agriculture is filling up with interesting companies bringing new management tools for your operation. We're covering them at Farm Industry News and you'll hear more in the future as this industry grows.

Right now FarmLogs is making a statement as it adds more acres. Vollmar comments that the firm is working to put key data into your hands with insights you can use. And he's focused on helping you use that data. "We feel like there are some barriers in the industry that make it too hard for farmers to get access to their data," he says.

His goal is to break down those barriers so you have information, and analysis, you need when you need it. Check out the service at farmlogs.com.

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