Jesse Vollmar grew up on a farm in Michigan. Even in the 1990’s, technology was an important part of the operation.
“When I was growing up, we had all sorts of tech tools,” said Vollmar, CEO and Co-Founder of agtech startup FarmLogs. “DTN satellite dishes for weather and prices and auto-guidance systems for equipment.”
But after studying computer science in college and working in the technology field for a few years, Vollmar realized there was a lot of room for improvement.
“Tech has come so far that we can have an impact like we couldn’t before,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to make a difference in the world.”
Agtech in the 1990’s was valuable, but not particularly easy.
“Tech used to be unapproachable, not easy to use or integrate,” Vollmar said. “We’ve really been able to build new tools and make it clear how they can help.”
How FarmLogs works
FarmLogs offers mobile-enabled applications for analyzing crop and field information like rainfall, heat impact and growth stage monitoring. Advanced applications use satellite imaging to monitor crop health for potential problems.
“We make it incredibly easy for farmers to access these tools,” Vollmar said. “They’re easy to integrate into how their business works, the reality of farming.”
FarmLogs applications can also monitor such things as nitrogen content and make recommendations.
“We can measure how the impact of weather is changing the amount of nitrogen available,” Vollmar said. “Then we can recommend variable rate prescriptions dialed in to specific fields.”
An independent source for growers
Data sources that drive FarmLogs analytics include publicly-available crop history information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as information provided by growers themselves and high-quality satellite imagery.
“We work with a provider to buy visual and infrared satellite images and run our analytics on it to translate it into how a crop is performing,” Vollmar said. “Growers can upload agronomic information from their machines.”
Vollmar said one of FarmLog’s differentiators is providing independent and unbiased information.
“We view ourselves as an independent source for growers that has their bottom line in mind,” he said. “We have no connections to other major ag businesses, and don’t sell inputs. We provide unbiased information that growers can count on.”
Expansion into Iowa
Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, FarmLogs is expanding to the Des Moines area in early January, opening an office in Clive, Iowa. And they’re hiring.
“We’ve grown from a tiny little company that started on the farm,” Vollmar said. “This expansion is an awesome way to continue to support our customers.”
Vollmar said there are eight open positions in the Iowa office that haven’t been filled yet. In an effort to recruit local talent, FarmLogs is holding hiring events from 4 -7 p.m. on December 27 and 28 at the Hotel Renovo in Urbandale.
“We want to meet people and show them opportunities out of the Iowa office,” he said. “The hiring event is not far from where the office will be.”
FarmLogs will also host its second annual user conference in three cities during January.
“It’s a combination of educational talks and topics that relate to FarmLogs,” Vollmar said. “They’ll be the first to hear the new functionality that we’re unveiling for the 2017 growing season.”
Founded in 2011, FarmLogs now serves over 100,000 growers across the U.S., or about 1 in every 3 farmers.
“Feedback from growers provides a tremendous ability to learn and build even better technology,” Vollmar said. “There’s never been a more exciting time to build the technology that’s going to make an impact on the farm.”
More information on the hiring events and user conference can be found on the FarmLogs Facebook page.
Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.