BASF’s digital branch, Xarvio Digital Farming Solutions, is putting more and more of its services in the palm of the hand.
Farmers may already be familiar with Xarvio’s Field Manager, previously launched as a web-based service for collecting, analyzing and making data-driven decisions at the field level.
Now, however, the company wants to make that web-based content available in the field, assuming the producer has a smartphone.
Why it matters: Xarvio’s app-based direction puts more information in the hands of farmers, even if they’re not sitting in front of a computer.
“Everything, originally, that had to be web based within Field Manager is now completely app based,” Brent Nicol, business development manager with Xarvio Digital Farming Solutions, said.
“Going into 2020, we really wanted to come out and showcase Field Manager in the marketplace and we thought the new features, along with full app functionality, would kind of be a real positive story,” he added.
Like its web-based version, the company says the Field Manager app will cover in-field data, field-specific weather and will carry the ability to export data to equipment. The producer gets field-specific risk statuses for disease and insects, growth stage notifications and visualizations for yield, seeding and fertilizer.
The full Field Manager package makes the farmer more efficient, the company argues, pointing to features such as Zone Spray, which uses satellite imaging biomass maps to determine the most productive, and therefore the most profitable, zones for pesticide application.
Likewise, the company hopes to ease decisions on when it is time to spray fungicide. It has built in a feature called Spray Timer, which triggers a notification to the farmer when the predictive disease model, growth stage and seed date of that field and weather indicate a good spraying window is coming.
“We’ve seen a lot more growth in it, especially in this last year, as we’ve added new crops into the system,” Nicol said. “We’ve added new weather functionality into the system. We’ve added in, even, the CanSIS, so that’s the Canadian Soil Information System… We’ve basically just put in as much information in one single place as possible.”
There is also more connection with Xarvio Scouting — a weed, insect and disease identification app that allows producers to determine which pests are lurking in the field through uploaded photos or to calculate actual leaf-area damage. The app then feeds result data back into Xarvio’s database so that the app becomes “smarter” at identification the more it is used.
Field Manager’s archives, meanwhile, will allow the farmer to track all of that data field by field over the course of years, something that could be of help for a farmer fighting a herbicide-resistant weed or pervasive disease.
“That’s definitely something that we wanted to achieve,” Nicol said. “We sort of had two different avenues there for a long time. We had Xarvio Scouting and Xarvio Field Manager. They were both ours, but there wasn’t really a whole lot of connectivity. It was sort of two different development groups internally working on two different things.”
Now, however, producers can track which pesticides were applied to which field and when, where residuals might be an issue, or even historical weather for a given field, he noted.
The complete Field Manager package won Xarvio an Ag in Motion Innovations Program award for plant and soil science this year, the second year in a row that the company has taken home the award in that category.
Last year, Xarvio Scouting on its own took the honour.
That success led directly into the umbrella package the company presented this year, according to Nicol.
“Basically, using the success we’ve had with that technology, we’ve worked really hard this year on figuring out a way of taking everything we have… and having that available in the palm of your hand as well,” he said.
But condensing a web-based service the size of Field Manager into a smartphone app is not without issue.
“Even something as simple as being able to use satellite imagery — we’re bringing in biomass maps; we’re looking at imagery from the past years; that’s really large data,” Nicol said.
The development team had to juggle Field Manager’s scope of service while making sure what it created was not, “so big that you can’t have any other apps on your phone,” he said.
As a foundation, they turned to their work with the existing Xarvio Scouting app and “were able to sort of mimic those areas,” Nicol said. “Basically it was just building a system to simply condense it.”
The company plans to add minor updates to Field Manager, such as additional crop or pest information or weather data.
Aerial spraying is expected to be a major part of the service moving forward, Nicol said, and the company says it is already starting to fully integrate its technology with aerial equipment.
The company has also chosen to use more open file formats, which creates compatibility between different companies, and opens the door for partnerships, according to Nicol.
“That’s kind of what we’re looking towards now,” he said. “Can we work with these other equipment dealers just to make data transfers easy?”