DRIVING A QUANTUM LEAP IN FARM PERFORMANCE
Our scrappy, entrepreneurial team developed the Leaf prototype on the farm, not in a corporate office. The experience forced us to figure out how to deal with the day to day whirlwind of life on the farm. It also showed us why so many AgTech products fail to deliver value to growers.
Just some of the examples that caused us to lose crucial information - a combine catching fire, equipment going missing, and weather devastating freshly planted fields.
Overcoming these challenges required that our patent-pending system place unparalleled focus on automating in-field records.
The end result is a unique platform that combines low-cost IoT sensors & mobile devices with advanced classification algorithms to generate an operational history of the farm without manual input. To cap it off our state-of-the-art engineering stack including Docker, Golang, AWS, Swift and React result in stable, performant software that we can continue to evolve for years to come.
The Leaf platform is a fundamental stepping stone towards our vision. Accurate, reliable records underlie the ability for data-driven decision making. Nevertheless getting there was incredibly hard...
There was no “Aha!” moment with Leaf. Instead there has been a winding journey of learning and evolution. Well before we built a product and a company, there were a number of events that together would kick off Leaf.
One crucial effort originated with a key partner today, Stotz Equipment. Stotz Equipment was working to build a precision ag team in early 2012. Precision technology had the potential to radically transform the industry. Providing solutions to customers instead of just equipment, parts and service seemed the right way to go.
But what solutions? The Stotz leadership team set out to visit their top customers to find out. The consensus among top producers was that they would be successful in the long term if they had water, could control their costs, and could figure out how to benefit from the new technologies.
There was so much promising technology being developed in the industry, but there was a crippling problem: day-to-day information about what happened on the farm was missing. That hindered the ability to use data and technology to drive value.
Aerial imagery projects went flat when questions like “when did we plant that field” couldn’t be answered or were pencil whipped. Machine optimization projects ran up against walls such as “which disk was it pulling?” or “who was operating the sprayer?”. Accounting projects couldn’t result in management decisions because costs weren’t being allocated in meaningful ways.
At the same time, a related business - Stotz Dairy - entered the farming business to control feed quality & cost in a tough dairy market. The dairy itself had an impressive set of key performance metrics spanning productivity, health, and well-being on the dairy. Processes and performance were measured. Results were compared to history and industry benchmarks. Gaps were identified, closed and results improved. However, when it came to farming the team faced a surprising roadblock. The same tools and information that drove the dairy proved impossible to come by.
These experiences steered leadership at Stotz to develop agribusiness expertise through the precision ag team. Yet despite enthusiasm and interest from their market, they couldn’t find the tools or context that could make information valuable, nor could they find industry benchmarks for performance.
Stotz combined their precision ag team with a team of software engineers to develop solutions that could make farming data valuable. With thought, time, and trial and error, ideas coalesced into a product. An early prototype showed promise well beyond just Stotz’s customers, but to capitalize on that promise with a commerical product would take a unique effort.
In August of 2015 this effort materialized as a software startup called Agrarian Labs. Agrarian Labs launched their product, Leaf, commercially in 2017. Today our team combines expertise from the agriculture, consulting, and software industries with the ultimate vision of driving a quantum leap in farm performance.