Case Studies - Farm Management Software
Three case studies have been provided below that highlight the use of farm management software by farms to improve financial return. However, no specific financial results for the farms were found. Instead, the case studies focused on qualitative results, generalized company results, and predictions.
Alturas Ranches and AgWorld
- Alturas Ranches, located in Alturas, CA, manages 100,000 acres for cattle and goats and 30,000 acres of irrigated cultivation for Alfalfa, grains and wild rice.
- In 2014, Alturas Ranches implemented AgWorld for all its farm directors and supervisors in order to improve farming practices, decrease input cost, and realize the savings that come from precision.
- The managers at Alturas Ranches wanted to implement a full farm management system in order to move to more precise data than field average, which was the leading metric they previously relied on and they found that very inaccurate without a more detailed tool.
- One draw of AgWorld was the way it represents data: "The way AgWorld presents the information sparks inquisitiveness, rekindles memory and naturally creates discussion among my crew. When you can see a field that’s dark green and the yield per acre is high, you visually imprint that on your mind to say yes — that’s where our stronger soils are, that’s where we get a better irrigation, or that’s where we did a fertilizer study for example. Having this visible in AgWorld really makes us more aware of how we are performing and where we might have to adjust."
- The implementation of the software also helped them improve efficiency, even across their 450 different fields and 40-80 person crew.
- While no specific financial information was provided, the case study did say that "due to improved accuracy in field mapping through AgWorld, Alturas Ranches has been able to become more precise with their purchasing and realize instant savings."
Paul Talley & Growers
- Paul Talley of Talley Farms grows 32,000 acres of commodity crops (mostly corn, wheat and soy), as well as raising turkeys for hatching eggs (they sell about 7 million hatching eggs per year).
- Talley Farms implemented Growers, a farm management software that collects data from any and all precision agriculture equipment the farmer is already using and analyses this data, after being approached by many farm management software companies. Talley chose Growers specifically because they provided a way to make the data "click" — to make the data usable.
- Talley stated that Growers helped him utilize the collected data to reduce input cost, like fertilizer, and tailor his planting rates to the specific soils found in different locations on his farm.
- While Talley shared no financial data specific to his farm, Growers has shared some data for their solutions as a whole. Farmers that use Growers see a 3-5x ROI from input savings and yield increases, and as a whole, farmers using Growers have generated "$50 million more in incremental revenue", as well as "reduced the over application of 160 million tons of commercial fertilizer." Growers boasts of helping farmers, like Talley, see increased yield rates of 10%-20%.
Fruitmaster & SourceTrace
While the research team was successful in providing three case studies from around the globe on the implementation of farm management software, we were not able to provide any case study showing the rate of return or other financial metric before and after the implementation of the software. We believe this is due to two factors; one, that many farmers do not keep detailed financial records, especially not before the implementation of a farm management software, so that comparison of before-and-after implementation for financial figures becomes challenging, and two, that most farms are family-run or private businesses, and therefore do not release financial records to the public.
We began our search for case studies by researching popular farm management software systems, thinking that they would publish case studies including detailed financial returns in order to showcase the benefits of their products. While they did publish case studies, none included specific financial details for the farms.
Then, we moved to research and academic sources, like Research Gate and Science Direct to see if any academic studies with quantifiable results had been done on the implementation of farm management software. We checked these sources because a lot of academic research is done on new agriculture innovations, and these types of studies usually utilize hard data. While we did find some reports, they did not include hard financial data, instead focusing on qualitative insights, or they only included information on the need for these types of systems, and not the results of using them.
Finally, we looked for interviews of farmers discussing their experience with agricultural technology and farm management software. We were hoping that these farmers, being the only ones with the specific financial details of their farms, would have shared some of those details of how farm technology has improved their financials. However, few interviews focused on farm management software and instead addressed other aspects of farm technology, perhaps due to the low adoption rates of farm management software.
After exhausting the above strategies, we expanded the research criteria to include packing companies, like Fruitmaster, as the farm management program was being implemented on the farm level (just to multiple farmers at once through a coordinated effort) and this case study was one of the few that contained quantitative data about the expected results.