• Syngenta:

    [Soil Sense Podcast] Soil Health Assessment with Jordon Wade, Ph.D.

    FoA 364: Supporting Soil Health with Dr. Steve Rosenzweig and Dr. Abbey Wick [Soil Sense Crossover]

    Future of Agriculture 123: Nerding Out About Soil Health with Dr. Abbey Wick of North Dakota State University

    Future of Agriculture 162: Cannabis Inputs with Dr Colin Bell of Mammoth Microbes

    Really excited this week to bring Dr. Matt Wallenstein onto the show. Matt is the Chief Soil Scientist for Syngenta Group, where he leads their efforts to enable farmers around the world to improve their productivity and profitability through science-based innovation through soil health. Part of that team is my good friend and co-host of the Soil Sense podcast Dr. Abbey Wick, who you’ve heard on this show in the past. As well as Dr. Jordan Wade, who was a guest on a very fascinating episode of Soil Sense a year or so ago that I’ll have to link to in the show notes because it’s a great one. Anyway, so Matt’s putting together this dream team of soil scientists and I had to bring him on the show to figure out what I can about what they’re up to. 

    Prior to joining Syngenta in 2022, he was a professor and department head of Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University. His research focused on how the soil microbiome interacts with plants and the environment. He also co-founded a startup called Growcentia, which commercialized a phosphorus solubilizing microbial consortia developed in his academic lab and went on to develop other biostimulants. A cool connection there is one of Matt’s co-founders at Growcentia was actually on this show five years ago. I didn’t know Matt at the time so that’s more of a coincidence than anything else, but that’s episode 165 if you want to find that deep track. 

    Anyway, i’ll drop you into today’s conversation when Matt is telling me what attracted him to this position, even though he already had a startup and a thriving career at Colorado State when he decide to make the leap two years ago to Syngenta. 

  • FarmTest:

    Iowa Nitrogen Initiative:

    Today’s episode is a really unique concept and potential game-changer for how we think about on-farm technology, management practices and research. Historically, universities and agribusinesses would conduct randomized controlled trials for the best data on how products work. But these trials are limited on where they can take place and how many replications could take place, so when a farmer says “what about MY field and MY management?” it’s not surprising that the bottom line comes down to: your results might vary. But we don’t know for sure or by how much. 

    But with advancements in technology, why can’t every field include some sort of trial to understand how that product is performing? This has been done in the past with check strips that a farmer would plant as sort of a control, but this is far from precise or scientific. 

    It just so happens that Nick Cizek is a bit of an expert in precision measurement and experimentation design, and he has created in FarmTest a way from farmers, their advisors, input companies and researchers to run real experiments on farm without interfering with a farmers operation. They are essentially increasing the scientific rigor of on-farm trials while removing the hassle factor. And today we talk to Nick about that as well as a user of the product: Dr. Mike Castellano of Iowa State University and the Iowa Nitrogen Initiative which conducted 270 unique on-farm trials last year to analyze nitrogen applications. He says that current university nitrogen recommendations are very coarse and really only differ based on broad geographies and whether the crop is after corn or soybeans, but with this data they are already finding consistently predictable differences in fertilizer requirements based on other important factors like soil type, crop residue management, and drainage.

    This has big ramifications not just for research but for optimizing individual farm management practices and determining which inputs and technologies should be utilized and where and how much. Obviously this also could be very handy for input companies to more accurately represent their products because in agriculture the honest answer to “does it work?” is “it depends.” 

    Nick Cizek is an applied physicist specializing in precision measurement (Ph.D. Stanford). Before founding FarmTest in 2019, he worked for 4.5 years at The Climate Corporation / Monsanto / Bayer Crop Science. Specifically, he led teams designing and executing in-field trials to measure the performance of advanced nitrogen management systems. He initially joined Climate to help design and deploy a sensor network to collect local data to improve the value of their predictive agronomic optimization models. FarmTest envisions a future where all farms optimize their management practices based on statistically rigorous in-field performance data. 

    FarmTest builds software tools to automate on farm performance testing on commercial farms. We help researchers and growers design and analyze statistically robust field trials using commercial farm equipment. We make this easy by embedding product trials in variable rate prescriptions that account for all the nuances of each growing operation's fields, equipment, and management practices, and all the randomization, replication, and blocking needed for a statistically sound trial that produces a usefully small least significant difference.

    Dr Mike Castellano’s work aims to increase the productivity, profitability, and environmental performance of crop production. To achieve these outcomes, he uses a systems approach and strong...

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  • Cultura Technologies:

    Metal Dog Labs:

    Software Is Feeding The World Newsletter:

    If there’s been a theme on this show over the past few months, it’s what does tech collaboration look like? Is it lip service or will it lead to real outcomes? You’ve heard from Lawrence King, Claudia Roessler, Mark Pendergrast, Jim Ethington and others all talking about this. Today, we hear from another leader who has proven experience in agtech collaboration, Jeff Schreiner. 

    Jeff is the senior vice president of global collaboration at Cultura Tech, a company that has acquired technology companies focused on agriculture across the value chain. Jeff is interviewed by Rhishi Pethe in today’s episode about collaboration, data, regulation, and the future of agriculture.

  • Headstorm:



    FoA 256: Agtech Collaboration and Data-Driven Decision Agriculture with Jim Ethington of Arable

    Today's episode features Arable CEO Jim Ethington. Jim first appeared on this show on episode 256 back in 2021 and I was pleased to get a chance to sit down for a second interview with him in person at World AgriTech in March. 

    His background is impressive. Prior to joining Arable in 2018, he spent 10 years at The Climate Corporation where he was VP of Product and grew the company to 50 million paid acres and built a team from 10 to over 600 individuals. So he started at Climate in 2008 when they were still called Weatherbill and stayed with the company through the big acquisition in 2013 and for years after that. 

    So Jim has been thinking about the challenges and opportunities in digital agriculture for a long long time and it shows in the insights he shares in this episode. 

    If you’re not familiar with Arable, they are an ag technology company that provides data insights and recommendations to help farms be more productive and sustainable. Specifically they have created an intuitive system for farmers and agronomists to optimize irrigation, fertilizer applications and other important farm decisions. This is all based around their Arable Mark 3 device. 

    Jim is also one of the guests suggested by Lawrence King at Headstorm to give one of their client testimonials. Similar to Amie at Wilbur Ellis and Claudia at Microsoft, I wanted to make this one a full length episode because Jim is someone I wanted to have back on the show anyway to get an update on Arable and more of his insights on the future of ag. And he doesn’t disappoint. I’ll drop you into the conversation where he’s explaining the key insight from farmers that informs the work they do at Arable. 

  • Headstorm:


    Ag Ventures Alliance:


    FoA 068: Farmers Investing in AgTech with Spencer Stensrude of Ag Ventures Alliance and Matthew Rooda of SwineTech

    FoA 117: Bridging the Gap Between AgTech Entrepreneurs and Farmers with Pete Nelson of AgLaunch

    Today's episode features Pete Nelson and Margaret Oldham from Aglaunch and Spencer Stensrude at Ag Ventures Alliance. If you’ve been a long time listener to this show - i mean a REALLY long time listener - you heard Spencer back on episode 68 in 2017 and Pete on episode 117 in 2018. I’ll link to both of those classics in the show notes. Since that time the two organizations have partnered together based on a shared mission of investing in farmer-led innovations. They each have unique aspects to their models, which i’ll let Pete, Margaret and Spencer describe to you. But they also are joining forces in a way to put the farmer at the center of investing in and incubating early stage agtech companies. 

    There are some really interesting points brought up in this conversation that I’ve been thinking about a lot since we recorded it a couple of months ago. Things like, should billion dollar unicorn exits be the measure of success for venture capital? Or number of viable lasting companies? Or maybe jobs and economic impact on communities? Is the fact that venture capital gets poured into so many businesses that fail a feature or a bug when it comes to advancing agriculture? And does the fact that we are in a commodity driven business mean that by definition, all of the value created by companies will eventually get squeezed out and extracted by low cost leaders? Some thought provoking questions that I think you’ll enjoy pondering as you listen to Spencer, Margaret, and Pete. 

    Spencer Stensrude invests at the intersection of transformational technology and agriculture. He is the CEO of Ag Ventures Alliance, which is a farmer-owned cooperative with a mission to increase farm profitability. They make venture capital investments in startups with a direct impact on farmers. Before joining AgVA, he started and operated some small businesses, invested in income-producing real estate, and worked in the commercial lending industry.

    Pete Nelson has been experimental farming, venture investing, and creating innovation hubs in agriculture with farmers across the US and Canada since 1997. He is currently co-founder and President of AgLaunch, a nationally recognized farmer-led innovation platform for advancing the next generation of agricultural technologies.

    Margaret Oldham is the Vice President of Innovation at AgLaunch. She is an experienced marketer and coach with a reputation for...

  • Headstorm:


    Carbon Robotics:

    Paul is the founder and CEO of Carbon Robotics. What Carbon Robotics is doing is novel and interesting in and of itself, and we’re going to talk a lot about that in today’s episode. But it’s important to note that Paul has a really impressive history of building technology companies outside of agriculture.

    Before starting Carbon Robotics, he co-founded Isilon Systems, a distributed storage company, in 2001. Isilon went public in 2006 and was acquired by EMC for $2.5 billion in 2010. In 2006, Paul co-founded Clustrix, a distributed database startup that was acquired by MariaDB in 2018. Immediately before Carbon, Paul served as Director of Infrastructure Engineering at Uber, where he grew the team and opened the company’s engineering office in Seattle, later focusing on deep learning and computer vision. 

    So in today’s episode we’re going to talk a lot about laser weeding, building a field robotics company, Paul’s views on artificial intelligence and where he sees applications for the tech in agriculture, and the challenges an opportunities ahead for carbon robotics and agtech in general. 

    I’ll drop you into the conversation where Paul is explaining his desire to jump from tech to agtech, and how that transition has been for him. 

  • Headstorm:


    Azure Data Manager for Agriculture (ADMA):

    Ag Powered Services:

    "Scaling Sustainability Through Bayer & Microsoft Partnership":

    Today's episode features conversations with Claudia Roessler and Mark Pendergrast. A quick heads up on a couple of things before we dive in: first, both of these interviews were recorded at World Agri-Tech in San Francisco and they were other conversations happening in the media room for part of the time, so I hope you’ll forgive a little bit of background noise. Second, similar to Amie Thesingh’s episode last month, I originally recorded these interviews to be spotlight episodes featuring the work Headstorm does. Just like in Amie’s case I thought this story warranted a full-length episode, so we will focus on the work Microsoft and Bayer are doing together, but I will also include the role Headstorm is playing in all of this as well. Just a heads up on that. 

    You heard from both Claudia and Mark as part of our Generative AI episode which was #409, but the focus today is on this initiative started by Microsoft with their Azure Data Manager for Agriculture, or ADMA. We’ll also explore the collaboration with Bayer Cropscience, in particular they’re Ag Powered Services Platform that brings together agronomic data for a variety of applications. 

    Because sometimes this data stuff can get a little abstract, I think it’s probably helpful to level-set with some basics. Starting with cloud services. I think most of us intuitively know what a massive leap forward cloud computing has been for technology in general. From software applications to file storage to other sources of data - cloud computing is how we are able to power digitization. The cloud is not new obviously. But what has become clear is that just giving people access to the cloud isn’t enough to really tap into the power of all of this information - it’s just a place to store it. Moving from stored data to actionable data is a very very heavy lift - especially in an industry like agriculture. 

    So, Microsoft started creating industry-specific data management platforms. They describe this as “industry-specific data connectors and capabilities to connect farm data from disparate sources.” They’ve been successful with similar efforts in other industries like retail, finance and healthcare, and last year they unveiled Azure Data Manager for Agriculture, a continuation of the work they were doing with FarmBeats, which you might remember from episode 266 with Microsoft’s Ranveer Chandra. 

    So when it comes to making data more valuable, the cloud is a massive step forward, now we have another massive step forward in ADMA, and we’re also going to talk about what could be yet another massive step forward Bayer’s Ag Powered Services. Bayer is providing additional data infrastructure that they first developed to use internally, and now are offering to other companies that rely on agronomic data to power their various digital applications. 

    The ultimate goal here though is that data no longer becomes the bottleneck to progress. If a buyer, for example, wants to pay a farmer more for certain agronomic practices, all they need is...

  • Headstorm:



    Sentinel Fertigation:

    I’m a firm believer that in the U.S. our agricultural research and extension programs at our land grant universities truly are national treasures. But of all the outstanding research that’s done at these institutions every year, not enough of it seems to get commercialized. Today we highlight two young entrepreneurs that each began their entrepreneurial journeys at their respective campuses, and are today growing real businesses helping farmers with different aspects of nutrient management. 

    Today, you'll hear from Hunter Swisher, founder and CEO of Phospholutions which initially commercialized research done at Penn State. He does a great job talking about some of the major issues with the status quo when it comes to phosphorous. If you haven’t looked into it before it’s seriously eye opening. 

    Then we’ll move west to Nebraska, where Jackson Stensell formed his company Sentinel Fertigation based on research he was doing as a grad student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also focuses on nutrient management but specifically on irrigated crops. 

    Hunter Swisher currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Phospholutions, Inc., which he founded prior to graduating with his B.S. degree in Plant Sciences from Pennsylvania State University. Phospholutions is a sustainable fertilizer company with the mission of improving global phosphate efficiency. 

    Jackson Stansell is the founder and CEO of Sentinel Fertigation. Sentinel Fertigation leverages satellite imagery and geospatial data to empower precision nutrient management - particularly for nitrogen fertigation. Originally from Dothan, Alabama, Jackson did his undergrad at Harvard where he also played football. He was pursuing a masters degree at Nebraska when he turned the research he was doing into a business and decided to put his PhD on hold to commercialize the technology.

  • Headstorm:


    4AG Robotics:

    As you heard a bit about in last weeks episode, mushrooms are an incredible indoor crop with a ton of advantages and potential. But they are also extremely labor intensive. 

    “When you have a crop that doubles in size every 24 hours, you're often picking mushrooms at the end of the shift because you know that they'll start colliding with other mushrooms or their caps will open up by the next morning. So you pick them too quickly. Whereas if you know, I can come back in three hours and pick that, you'll gain the extra yield and weight that'll come with it. A robot is, is able to do that, that you know, shift labor can't accommodate.”

    Sean O’Connor and the team at 4AG Robotics are bringing automation to this industry. But they’re not the first to have this idea, which means they have to work a bit harder to gain farmers’ trust. 

    “Decades of people saying that we're gonna solve harvesting through automation, much like the rest of agriculture as well, and decades of people being wrong. So that barrier for acceptance of an MVP is very low, and you gotta have something that truly adds value to them from day one.”

    Today is not only an education in mushroom farming, but a candid look on what it takes to bring technology to an established industry. Sean O’Connor  of 4AG Robotics on today’s Future of Agriculture podcast.

  • Headstorm:



    MyForest Foods:

    I’ve been meaning to do an episode on mushroom farming and mushroom technology for a long long time. But the right story just never presented itself. Then I got connected with Ecovative and about the same time got in touch with the subject of next weeks’ interview and all of a sudden I have two fascinating stories of fungi! And these aren’t far-fetched companies: they are proving commercially that mushroom farming shouldn’t be kept in the dark when it comes to the future of agriculture. In fact, when you think about the vast diversity of fungi that exist in nature, it’s surprising to me that we haven't seen more done to commercialize them for food, fiber and other resources (relative to domesticated plants and animals). But there are reasons to believe that’s starting to change, and will likely be accelerated through advancements in biotechnology in my opinion. 

    So this is a great time to bring on Eben Bayer, co-founder and CEO of Ecovative, which he co-founded clear back in 2007. Ecovative is now the leading mycelium technology company in the world. He is also Co-founder of MyForest Foods, and is listed as an inventor on 64+ patents. 

    Eben grew up working on his family's farm in Vermont, where he began thinking of mycelium as a new category of material with myriad possibilities. He has since developed mycelium technology into the basis of sustainable innovations across industrial categories, including applications in construction, packaging, food, automotive, fashion and apparel.

    We will of course focus on his work in food and specifically on the bacon product made from his mycelium.

  • Headstorm:



    Today's episode features Amie Thesingh, president of ag solutions and chief technology officer at Wilbur-Ellis. Today’s episode is a perfect compliment to last week’s episode with Brad Fruth of Beck’s Hybrids. Both Beck’s and Wilbur-Ellis are well-established family-owned companies that aren’t just resting on their laurels. They’re looking ahead and wanting to be on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Like last week’s episode, the perspective Amie shares is both grounded in the realities of how agriculture really works, but also forward-looking and open to how the industry is evolving and changing. 

    In Amie’s role, she has to wear three different hats: 

    Strategy and business development for the company as a wholeRunning their ag solutions business, which includes digital solutions, sustainable grower solutions, and their proprietary products portfolio - really focuses on innovation and the futureAnd the IT function - how they’re using digital and data internally

    So it’s a big job for the 103 year-old leading international marketer and distributor of agricultural products, animal nutrition and specialty chemicals and ingredients.

    Amie joined Wilbur-Ellis in 2020, bringing deep strategy, commercial and general management expertise to her role, along with experience that spans the food, agribusiness and technology industries. Before Wilbur-Ellis, Thesingh held a variety of leadership roles at Cargill, where she developed and executed solutions for farmers, including new product development. Most recently, she was Vice President of Strategy, Marketing and Innovation for Cargill’s protein businesses in Latin America, Europe and Asia. She created the first global strategy and acquisition portfolio across these regions, identified the critical levers for aggressive organic and M&A growth, and subsequently took responsibility for go-to-market and innovation improvement efforts.

    And that’s where i’ll drop you into today’s conversation, where Amie is talking about her valuable experience at Cargill, and how that set her up for her current role at Wilbur-Ellis. 

  • Headstorm:


    Software is Feeding The World:

    Beck's Hybrids:

    The word “innovation” is tossed around quite a bit - I’m guilty of overusing it myself. But what does it mean? There’s probably no better person to dig into this question at least in agriculture than Beck’s Hybrids director of innovation Brad Fruth. 

    “Ideas are cheap.  Motivated people that are passionate about their ideas is what is lacking.”

    Beck’s Hybrids is the largest family-owned retail seed company and the third-largest seed brand in the country. But it’s Brad’s views on innovation and adding value to customers that really stand out today me in today’s episode.

    “Focus on what we're good at, which is seed, and the selection of seed, the placement and management of it, but then partner with best in breed on everything else.”

    Today, Brad shares some of the specific ways Beck’s Hybrids adds value to their farmer customers, and he shares openly and candidly his views on the current state of ag technology. 

    “If you don't have a good value prop and you're not delivering value, then this is just the inevitable. Right? And so the industry probably needs a little bit of belt tightening to make sure that you are delivering direct farm value and you're just not blowing smoke.” 

    Brad Fruth of Beck’s Hybrids sits down with guest host Rhishi Pethe on today’s Future of Agriculture podcast. Brad is the  is the director of innovation at Beck’s. He started there as an intern and has now worked there for about 20 years. Over that time, he has been dedicated to converging IT, data and agriculture into real solutions for farmer customers. This background gives him a perspective that you will really enjoy hearing because it is both technical and relatable, and always focused on what makes a meaningful impact at the farm level. 

    Today’s interview was put together by our guest host, Rhishi Pethe. This is now the third episode Rhishi has brought to the program after Verdant Robotics in 391 and Lavoro Agro in 404. As many of you know, Rhishi writes the newsletter Software is Feeding the World. If for some reason you are not subscribed, you’ll find a link to do so in the show notes.

  • Headstorm:


    ELO Life:


    New Leaf Symbiotics:

    Harpe Bio:

    "Biologicals are ‘economically unfeasible’ According to Report: The Shortcomings and Opportunities" by Upstream Ag Insights:

    I considered a title for this episode that was something like “The Biological Revolution Coming to Agriculture”. 

    I decided against it, and not just because it’s over-dramatic and the word ‘revolution’ is tossed around way too much, but because it would give many listeners the wrong idea of what this episode is about. 

    This is not an episode about biologicals, which has become a catch-all term for things like biostimulants, biopesticides, biofungicides, and bioherbicides. I’m not a fan of trying to categorize things as “biologicals” for the following reasons: 

    The term “biological” doesn’t tell a farmer customer anything about what the product will do for them. Is it effective? Is it profitable? What value does it have? In fact, in some cases calling it a “biological” is used to almost justify that it’s not as effective. Which brings me to my second point. The term “biological” comes with a lot of baggage. Decades of new products emerging with promises that at best don’t work in all cases, and at worst appear to be snake oil. Some of the benefits of a biological don’t have incentives in place to actually return value to farmers. Meaning, if for example, a biological can improve quality or boost the marketing story of a commodity or reduce emissions, how will the farmer see the money back from their investment? There are products that aren’t purely a biological or a synthetic chemistry, but deliver great outcomes for farmers. They get lumped in at times with biologicals because they have nowhere else to go. We’ve heard this on this show with Sound Agriculture’s SOURCE that uses chemistry to improve the performance of natural microbes, or Vestaron who has peptide products for pest control, and today will add a natural chemistry company to that list in Harpe Bio, which uses formulations from plant extracts for a suite of herbicides. Lastly, the entire industry is looking for ways to reduce reliance on synthetic chemistry whether that’s due to resistance, regulation, or other factors. So being a “biological” is just becoming less and less of a differentiator. 

    With all of that said I do believe that advancements in biotechnology will have the single biggest impact of any technology on the future of agriculture. And that’s what I want to talk about here in this episode and highlight four companies that are doing some fascinating work driven by biology, that I had the chance to sit down with at World Agri-Tech this year. 

    So that intro might sound like I’m both criticizing biologicals and calling them the future of agriculture. Let me clarify: my point is that we need to stop lumping everything into this biologicals category and making judgments about a vague category and instead look at how companies and products can stand on their own merits and

  • Headstorm:


    Today’s episode features Headstorm CEO Lawrence King. Lawrence has over 18 years of technology strategy consulting experience. He got his start in agtech with Farmlink over eight years ago where he built an engineering team. That company ran into some hard times, and Lawrence found himself with a talented team of engineers and no work to do. He tapped into his contacts in agtech looking for strategy and engineering talent and Headstorm was born. 

    Today, Headstorm has worked with companies all throughout agriculture and in similar industries who want to implement large-scale technology initiatives in their businesses. He’ll give us a few examples of what that looks like. Also, Headstorm recently announced a product of their own called AGPILOT, which uses generative AI to give ag retailers and other agronomists a new interface to record and access their data which ultimately allows them to better serve farmer customers.

    Lawrence has a lot of battle-tested wisdom about what works and what doesn’t work in agtech, and he shares a lot of those insights in today’s interview.  

  • Headstorm:



    Prime Future Newsletter:

    We’ve all heard the stats about how little of what consumers pay makes it back to the farmer or rancher. Some producers, like New Zealand sheep farmer Paul Ensor, are seizing the opportunity to capture more of that value.

    "A lot of farmers don't know where their produce goes once it leaves the farm gate, but we're very well connected and we know what standards they require for us to grow the wool under. And so it's all about adding value and the best way to do that is be better connected to our end customer, farm to fashion."

    Paul is capitalizing on this farm to fashion opportunity in a number of ways, including his own natural fiber brand called Hemprino, which is a blend of 80% fine merino wool and 20% hemp. 

    "There's a lot of wool blended with synthetic fibers to give it various attributes, whether to make the yarn stronger or more durable or give it some stretch. So we thought, well, why can't we do that with another natural fiber?"

    Hemprino has been successful and Paul says he’s having a lot of fun, but running a consumer focused business on top of a farming operation, is not an easy challenge to take on.

    "The supply chain is very challenging. So like when the wool leaves the farm, it's almost at times up to 18 months before we can have a garment to sell. So just all that managing that time from leaving the farm gate to hitting the store, if you like, has been quite challenging."

    Paul Ensor of Hemprino talks to guest host Janette Barnard on today’s Future of Agriculture podcast.

  • Headstorm:


    Bayer Announcement:

    Bayer AgPowered Services:

    Microsoft World Agri-Tech Reflections:

    Claudia Roessler World Agri-Tech Reflections on LinkedIn:

    FoA 111: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with Jeremy Williams 

    FoA 361: Meet Norm, FBN's AI-Powered Ag Advisor with Kit Barron and Charles Baron

    FoA 266:Microsoft Wants to Democratize Data-Driven Agriculture 

    FoA 345: Alphabet's Moonshot to Scale Sustainable Agriculture via Machine Learning with Dr. Elliott Grant of Mineral 

    “Yield Maps Killed Agtech Software, Can AI Fix It?” 

    Bailey Stockdale LLM Benchmarking:


    Follow Paul Sullivan on Twitter:

    These Field Report segments are short occasional episodes where we will hear from the people who actually use and hopefully benefit from the innovations we discuss on the show. 

    We’ve already been doing this through the spotlight segments that have aired at the end of about one episode every month. I’ve really enjoyed these sort of customer testimonials that are provided from our quarterly presenting sponsors. 

    So I’m taking what we were doing with those spotlights and creating standalone episodes with a similar concept: only now sometimes it will be associated with the sponsor, and sometimes not - just profiles of farmers and other users of agricultural innovations giving their report from the field. 

    In today’s case, Paul Sullivan is a certified crop consultant and agronomist in Eastern Ontario. He has operated his agronomy services firm, P.T. Sullivan Agro, since 1997, and started using SWAT MAPS in recent years. This part of Ontario which is just outside of Ottawa, is mostly corn, soybeans and wheat. Paul’s work focuses on developing crop plans around nutrient management, pH, pesticides, and some genetic recommendations as well. 

    Before starting the business, Paul spent eight years as a soil and crop advisor with the ministry of agriculture and food covering three counties with the provincial extension group there. So he has a long history of working directly with farmers to solve agronomic problems.

  • Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS:

    University of Saskatchewan Precision Agriculture Certificate Program:

    I wanted to have a conversation about cutting edge tools and the future of digital agriculture, and I definitely think we succeeded in bringing that to you today. Both Steve and Preston are thinking deeply about the best ways to collect and analyze data, think about variability, and utilize this deeper understanding for real world outcomes on farms. 

    Dr. Preston Sorenson is a research associate in the department of soil science at the University of Saskatchewan. His work focuses on mapping soil properties using a range of data sources, usually from satellite imagery and elevation data. He also works a lot with soil sensor systems, in particular for rapid carbon measurements. And carbon measurement is something we definitely get into today. 

    Dr. Steve Shirtliffe is a professor also at the University of Saskatchewan but in the department of plant sciences. As I mentioned in the opener, he pivoted his career about seven years ago from his focus in agronomy to now working in the area broadly referred to as digital agriculture. His focus is on crop imaging and understanding in-field spatial variability and what causes it. 

    Steve and Preston talk about digital tools, ag data, artificial intelligence, and what the future might hold for precision agriculture.

  • Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS:

    The Context Network:

    Today's episode features Christian Guffy of the Context Network. I wanted to bring Christian on the show to talk about talent and growing a client services firm. I think those are both interesting and important topics that I haven’t done a good job of covering on the show. 

    In client services, which is the business I’m in with the consulting that I do, all you have to sell is your talent. So finding ways to recruit, retain and develop talent is extremely important. It’s important in any business, but especially in a business where your people’s abilities is the only thing you have to offer. Christian had some great perspective on this and some interesting insights into the way Context operates. 

    For some quick background here, and some context on Context: Christian is a Partner at The Context Network and has been with the firm in a variety of roles for 10 years. He has a wide range of experience in working with clients across the food and agriculture value chain with notable focus on the upstream crop and animal sectors. He has worked with clients in the development and execution of strategic plans along with market and competitive intelligence. He has also advised companies on corporate financial planning including capital expenditures, business unit divestitures, and strategic acquisitions. Context's clients are many of the largest companies in the agriculture industry including manufacturers in crop protection, animal health, ag equipment, seeds, processing and handling, and many others.


    Corteva Agriscience:

    These new Field Report segments are short occasional episodes where we will hear from the people who actually use and hopefully benefit from the innovations we discuss on the show.

    We’ve already been doing this through the spotlight segments that have aired at the end of about one episode every month. I’ve really enjoyed these sort of customer testimonials that are provided from our quarterly presenting sponsors.

    So I’m taking what we were doing with those spotlights and creating standalone episodes with a similar concept: only now sometimes it will be associated with the sponsor, and sometimes not - just profiles of farmers and other users of agricultural innovations giving their report from the field.

    In today’s case, Brett McArtor is a senior research associate at Corteva Agriscience based in Johnston, Iowa. Corteva has three major focuses: crop protection, seed, and digital which supports those other two - and that’s where Brett works. Since graduating from Iowa State, Brett has remained focused on working with farmers to perform trials and research projects on their operations. He thinks of it as farmer-led science to figure out how new products fit into their management systems and affect their bottom line. He also brings that information back to the company to help formulate or position products to better suit farmer needs.