Recently, CropMetrics founder Nick Emanuel and I gave our network of dealers and agronomists an early look at the new technologies that we are launching for the 2019 North America field season. The launch includes powerful new mobile software – VO Grow – along with two new subscription product tiers powered by data science – Virtual Predictor (VP) and VP+.
All together, this new package of features and capabilities embodies a tremendous amount of excellent UX design, software engineering, and agronomic data science. The field testing of the science alone has been in the works for more than two years. I love to talk about all of those topics and I’m tempted to dive into each one of them in this article, but I will hold back and return to them later. Instead, today I want to highlight what’s motivating all of those efforts: the new opportunities that they are bringing to our growers.
CropMetrics customers are already accustomed to having the best experience in the industry with in-field sensors, IoT connectivity, and expert agronomist consultations in-season. The system makes it easy for farmers and their trusted advisors to optimize irrigated yields while conserving water, energy, and nutrients. But for some irrigators with large operations, the hardware costs per field can add up, making it challenging to bring the many benefits of precision irrigation to all acres across the farm.
The technologies coming in 2019 will bring new opportunities to extend precision irrigation benefits to the whole farm. Specifically, we have added product options that offer comparable access to irrigation scheduling data and expert agronomist recommendations at a lower cost per field, coupled with software that is geared towards easy use at the farm operation level.
A big part of making this happen was tapping into advanced data science capabilities, and our testing over the past 2 years has shown how well we can now make predictions of soil water dynamics and irrigation requirements. However, in my view, the key innovation in precision irrigation management this year is not the modeling specifically: it is our integration of the science prediction capabilities with the sensor hardware, the IoT connections, and the human element of expert agronomist recommendations in-season. In the CropMetrics product offerings this year, each one of these aspects of the system has a role to play that is complementary to the others and strengthens the whole.
Looking across the industry at the use of in-field hardware, agronomic models, and expert agronomist support, we see a lot of reliance upon just one, and it is rare to find others successfully combining even two of those three. By combining all three, CropMetrics is lowering barriers to adopting precision irrigation scheduling and VRI across the entire farm.