As the Ag Technology Director for Co-Alliance Cooperative in central Indiana, Luke Lightfoot stays on the cutting edge of the digital universe. His co-op offers fertilizer, crop protection, feed, grain and liquid fuels to growers through 25 facilities in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
In years past, Lightfoot has managed roughly two million acres of his growers’ crops through AgStudio software from MapShots, Inc. and separately purchased aerial imagery from GeoVantage, Inc.
Last year, his digital dream came true when the two companies got together.
“Before, we always had to run a separate program for ordering imagery before giving it out to the grower,” says Lightfoot, who grew up on a corn/soybean farm near Tipton, Ind. “Now, we have the ability to order right through AgStudio — which is pretty awesome!”
Lightfoot says AgStudio gives him the flexibility to show growers different things, depending on what they are looking for. He’s pleased with the diagnostic and data processing tools the company offers.
“I like AgStudio because it lets me show my growers the value in the product I’m selling,” he adds. “The data doesn’t lie. I can show them why the seed we recommended worked, why the crop protection product we suggested was the right one, and why our fertilizer recommendation was correct — or why it didn’t work, if that was the case.”
He also loves GeoVantage. “The imagery is great,” he says. “We use it as part of our scouting program to help direct scouts to different spots of the field to see what the imagery is showing.”
Now that the companies are partners, data flows seamlessly from plane to cloud to desktop. GeoVantage flies the field based on boundaries established through georeferencing. Then the imagery is processed and automatically returned to the co-op database.
“Virtually 24 hours after plane has flown over field, we get the data,” notes Lightfoot. “It’s pretty darn slick! We ran 100,000 acres through GeoVantage and AgStudio this year.”
Co-Alliance offers a customer portal called DataOnTouch that each grower can use to obtain information on their farming operation. They store the data in-house, but growers can view soil test results, fertilizer and seeding recommendations – and more — through the customized portal.
“DataOnTouch utilizes the AgStudio Select tool that MapShots built,” explains Lightfoot. “We’re tying in accounting and weather data along with scouting data. Then DataOnTouch brings all the data together for the growers to have in one spot. It’s very convenient for them.”