Innovation Sep. 1, 2021

Putting the Pieces Together: A Day at Farm Progress Show

My brothers operate our family farm in Nebraska, raising corn, soybeans, and alfalfa, as well as a herd of cows. These days, I don’t get up there often enough, and when I’m gone it feels like a piece of me is missing. When I’m able to return, I see that piece put safely back in place. 

I compare notes with my brothers on the changes to the family operation (I tease them when things don’t go well), and love to pick their brains about what they’re learning this year that they might not have known last year. Those are the few days I get to literally be out standing in my field, as the joke goes.

The same thing is true for events like the annual Farm Progress Show. It’s been two years since I’ve been to a trade show, two years away from that ability to connect directly with farmers, getting real feedback on how our platform is doing, what they find valuable, and where we can do even better in the future.

As I write this, we’re just getting started with the show. I’m happy to have been a part of recording a live episode of the Around the Farm podcast, speaking to our Digital Farming pipeline and the capabilities we’re working on that will unlock new value for farmers in the future.

I’m excited to see the response to our presence at the show this year. Digital farming is the future of global agriculture, as we move to models that put farmers at the center, drive partnerships that enable improved outcomes rather than the sale of inputs, and build a digital foundation around those farmer relationships.

That missing piece theme is consistent with our presence at the show this year. Regardless of how you do it, farming involves a lot of moving pieces, from data to equipment to inputs to management practices and timing. 

I’m proud to say that the Bayer tent this year emphasizes all those moving pieces and the ways we’re working to fit them together better. Digital farming is an integral piece of the farming puzzle, and within the digital farming space we focus every day on making farm puzzle assembly easier, season after season.

From Inputs to Outcomes

The farm plot portion of our digital farming tent is the most fun to me and feels the most like home. Our two demonstration plots are showcasing our FieldView Seed Advisor and FieldView Trial Advisor programs this year, two opportunities to partner with farmers in ways that optimize corn hybrid selection and planting populations and enable farmers to conduct trials that improve their seed selection portfolios.

What powers those two programs are yet more moving, living, and evolving pieces. The puzzle exhibit that accompanies the two planted plots highlights all the components that go into the Seed Advisor and Trial Advisor programs. From industry-leading Bayer Crop Science genetics to the machine learning approaches that drive continual model improvement, it takes each piece to complete the puzzle.

Research Plots

Rendering down complex, coordinated information sources and layers of data is what we do. Powering our Digital Farming research pipeline – the early-stage capabilities in development that stand to deliver insights in planting, crop protection, and operation management – are thousands of research plots across diverse geographies, representing lots of conditions under which farmers are managing their operations.

Turning this Galton board is an act that visualizes the generation of recommendations using our agronomic models. The more data we integrate into the platform, the stronger the signal that our models send us, and the more confident farmers can be that decisions made with the Climate FieldView platform will reduce risk and improve their operation.

Satellite Imagery and Field Health

One of the cornerstones of the Climate FieldView platform is our Field Health Imagery, a key geospatial piece of the puzzle made complete by layers of data and agronomic models that interpret that data. As satellite imagery improves, our ability to deliver precise knowledge of what’s happening on specific field areas improves as well.

The interactive nature of this mosaic table has been a great conversation starter thus far in the show. Guests are able to assemble their own field health maps and highlight just how varied performance can be across a field, indicating that yield-impacting management practices can differ widely from one portion of a field to another.

Carbon Bar

Environmental sustainability has always been a key piece of the puzzle, and one of the cornerstones of our mission at Climate. Never has that sustainable agriculture future been more possible than with the announcement of the Bayer Carbon Program pilot, which just turned one year old. 

For the first time, farmers are able to ask questions directly of folks working within the sustainability space, looking forward to a future in which farmers are making operational decisions that maximize the sustainability of their land, minimize their impact on the environment, promote biodiversity, and are able to participate in a marketplace that compensates them for sustainable practices.

As we try to do with farmer fields, we’ve both packed a lot into a small space, and are yielding some serious insights that will help farmers make informed decisions, de-risk their operations, and optimize yields.


About the Author

Tom Eickhoff is Senior Director of Science Implementation at The Climate Corporation. He grew up on a diversified family farm in Nebraska that two of his brothers operate today, and has had the opportunity to see firsthand how technology and innovation drives productivity and sustainability in agriculture. Tom holds a BS in Agronomy, and MS and Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Nebraska. Prior to joining Climate, Tom led the North America Agronomic Systems Team at Bayer Crop Science. In his role today, Tom is responsible for driving the global strategy, direction, and oversight for implementation and testing of Climate Science in our global field operations and with our customers to ensure successful execution of Science research. His team focuses on creating research plans and building scalable systems that deliver the latest data science techniques to products that can be used by farmers.

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