If You Ate Today, Thank a Farmer
Thanksgiving originated as a day to give thanks for the harvest and the preceding year. It’s celebrated in many countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, Libera, and Germany.
When it comes to gratitude, there is one group that stands out as particularly deserving of thanks: farmers. At Agmatix, we want to extend a special thanks to farmers this Thanksgiving for all they do, and share some of the tools we’ve developed as an agro-informatics company to help them do what they do best.
Brought to you by Farmers
Roughly 2 million farms, of an average 445 acres, exist in the United States today. That number was once over triple at its peak in 1935 when agriculture was a labor-intensive endeavor that required many small, diverse farms. Between 1935 and 1970, the number of U.S. farms dropped rapidly as non-farm employment options and on-farm productivity both increased. Today, only 1.4% of the U.S. population is actively involved in farming.
In more recent years, the number of farms has continued to decline, though more gradually. The amount of land and labor used in farming has also decreased. However, total farm output has nearly tripled from 1948 to 2019. Thanks to technological developments, a U.S farm feeds 166 people annually – both domestically and abroad. Those developments have included genetic improvements, chemical and equipment innovations, and farm management.
It’s not just large farms that meaningfully contribute to the world’s food supply. A 2021 FAO report noted that smallholder farmers who farm less than 2 hectares produced an estimated 35% of the world’s food on 12% of all agricultural land. Smallholder farmer impact varies based on country, with some countries like China having smallholder producers responsible for 80% of contributions to the food supply.
Around the world, there are an estimated 570 million farms – 9 out of 10 of which are family farms. Those family farms, of all sizes, produced around 80% of the world’s food.
Regardless of farm size, location, or crop production, there’s one thing that farmers all have in common: they’ve got many, diverse responsibilities. It takes a lot to nurture a crop from seed to harvest, and farmers have to be experts in crop production. And despite technological advancements, much of crop production is still dependent on some degree of manual labor.
Farmers have to deeply understand inputs like seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticide options. They have to operate, maintain, and buy equipment. They work with landlords and banks and government agencies. Day-to-day operation requires logistical prowess and management skills. And understanding the crop and commodity markets to make important contracting and sales decisions requires expertise in that area, too. It takes a lot of knowledge to be a farmer!
With everything on farmers’ plates as they try to put food on America’s plate, there’s definitely an opportunity to lighten their load. Agmatix has designed tools with farmers in mind – to make the tough decisions a little easier.
Agmatix Tools for the farmer
Farmers have a lot of production aspects to manage and decisions to make. There are a few Agmatix tools that can make handling agronomic trials, decision-making, and data management easier.
Agronomic Trial Management
Many farmers use on-farm experiments to explore how different products and production practices impact yield or product quality on their land. The data and insights from these on-farm experiments can be powerful tools to support decision-making toward increased yield, profitability, and sustainability. But managing the trials and subsequent data can be a challenge.
Agmatix makes planning on-farm experiments simple with intuitive design methodologies and multiple treatment combinations. With the drag-and-drop your trial layout directly on a map, it’s even easier to configure an on-farm experiment for success. While the on-farm experiment is ongoing, the extended mobile app capabilities keep farmers connected to the trial – even providing status updates to keep the experiment on track. Collecting data is easy, and can be standardized with legacy data for maximum impact. And if you’re interested in trials completed or ongoing near you, we can connect you with local trial coordinators to expand the available research knowledge of your “virtual toolbox”.
Digital Crop Advisor
Making crop input decisions can be challenging, even with the help of an agronomist. With Digital Crop Advisor, farmers can easily identify the best nutrient protocol to maximize crop yield and quality, all while minimizing environmental impact. Farmers can create plans for up to 12 nutrients across 150 different crops to unleash their full potential. And all of these capabilities exist in a user-friendly interface that allows farmers to dig into performance and analyze results in real time.
The Global Crop Nutrient Open Database was created in collaboration with the Consortium of Precision Crop Nutrition (CPCN), the International Fertilizer Association, and other partners. The database provides important information to improve plant nutrition plans. It contains data on nutrient content, residues, crop yields, and other related data. It allows farmers to look at production and environmental factors that impact nutrient concentration to understand the total nutrients removed from the field when the crop is harvested.
The Global Crop Nutrient Removal Database can fuel crop management decisions as farmers assess crop nutrient removal rates and trends of nutrient demand. They can make educated decisions about nutrient application to supplement soil nutrients. And the database is accessible to both farmers and researchers to ensure open science and collaboration.
The Nutrient Omission Trial Database supports site-specific recommendations that optimize nutrient management. Using this data, farmers can compare crop nutrient requirements and plans. The database is sensitive to soil fertility variations and takes site-specific conditions into consideration, so farmers can confidently understand trends in nutrient use efficiency in a given geography.
The database is a collaboration between Agmatix, the African Plant Nutrition Institute, the International Fertilizer Association, and Innovative Solutions for Design Agriculture. It brings legacy nutrient omission research data into a single, open dataset. And the data is standardized and harmonized to improve collaboration. The data is even enriched with geospatial information on soils, crops, weather, and more.
Hats off to Farmers
As U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from a cornfield.” Farming can be risky, as the markets and weather are outside a farmer’s control. What works on paper might fail in the field, and Mother Nature might throw a curveball at any time.
At Agmatix, we know farming isn’t a 9 to 5 job for 40 hours a week. Farmers work in acres, not hours – and work until the job is done. They wear a lot of hats on the farm and need to be experts in many areas. Regardless of rain, snow, or sunshine, holidays or weekends, farmers can be found working hard to reap what they sow. That’s why we’re proud to serve farmers and support the time-honored work they do.
Farmers produce the food, fuel, and fiber needed to keep the world running. So this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to pause and thank the farmer that helped your holiday dinner make it to the table.