Digitizing field trials operations of a global manufacturer of irrigation equipment
As the population of the world grows, and as we find more non-nutritional applications for agricultural products, agricultural scientists are challenged with the task of developing increasingly efficient farm management systems–or finding more arable land. Cloud computing has been used successfully to send data about local conditions affecting crop growth to back-office service centers for analysis. Its usefulness is diminishing, however, as the search for arable land drives agronomists into increasingly remote areas, where the stable internet connection required to send data to the cloud is difficult to maintain. As a result, agronomists have been forced to rely on less efficient methods of data collection and analysis, such as spreadsheets, which may not be standardized across all field trials or across multiple studies, or resource-intensive tools that can result in data loss and a higher overhead.
Our client is heavily invested in a critical component of the struggle for sustainable agriculture: irrigation. As a global manufacturer of irrigation equipment–with more than 5000 employees spread across more than 100 countries to assist more than two million farmers–this company uses a considerable portion of its annual $1 billion in sales to carry out agricultural field trials to ensure that its equipment continues to meet local agricultural needs. Each year, our client carries out approximately 80 agricultural field trials to improve their industry’s understanding of irrigation and pass data-driven agricultural solutions on to local farmers. Unfortunately, these solutions are increasingly unlikely to be reliable, given the trend toward inefficient methods of collecting and analyzing the data on which they are based that accompanies the search for agricultural solutions in isolated parts of the world.
The agmatixTM Field Trials Management System (FTMS) appeared to be an attractive choice for this company. This data-driven agricultural solution can be used to collect, consolidate, and standardize field data; upload and preserve data; integrate agronomy-related data from external sources (e.g., weather monitoring devices); and support all relevant standards in each research domain. As a result, the FTMS allows agronomists to collect data in a standardized, intuitive way. This system facilitates the management of field experiments that are carried out in multiple and distant areas by following the GUARDS (Global Universal Agronomic Data Standard) protocol. GUARDS was designed to accept large amounts of data from multiple research sites and produce analytical findings that can be understood and put into practice by a broad range of agricultural professionals around the world. The universality of GUARDS output is achieved through the creation of a study-specific agronomic ontologic repository consisting of standardized definitions of terms and data measurements associated with a specific study and the inclusion of a mechanism for identifying statistical anomalies that could skew analytical findings. The result is a user-friendly field trials data tool that can be used to collect relevant data efficiently, standardize collected data, predict errors, and design functional experimental research plans.
Our client recently completed a pilot project using an agmatixTM FTMS. Its researchers were impressed by the relative ease with which they were able to plan their experiments, the efficiency with which they were able to manage their experiments; and the precision with which they were able to standardize their data and outcomes. They especially appreciated the fact that they could use this platform to automate previously time-consuming processes, thereby shortening timelines and reducing costs. This allowed them to focus on the science of the project rather than its management. Given these impressive outcomes, our client decided to use our FTMS for all of its planned field trials, including the 75 or more trials planned for 2022. We are currently in the process of customizing this platform, tailoring it to our client’s specific needs and methods of operation.
The agmatixTM FTMS can standardize results from multiple trials being conducted in multiple sites around the world, thereby allowing agricultural scientists to focus on the science of their projects rather than research management issues. Furthermore, the agmatixTM FTMS can be customized to serve the specific operational needs of each company.