Two Twin Cities firms help farmers harness cloud data

Two Twin Cities firms help farmers harness cloud data
Courtesy of Conservis
Minneapolis-based Conservis Corp. is one of at least
two Twin Cities firms to help farmers harness
cloud-based data.

Clouds are quickly becoming much more than harbingers of weather to farmers, thanks to technology advancements commercialized by Cargill Inc. and Conservis Corp.
 
Through separate efforts, the two are providing tech tools and services that can help farmers better manage their planting and harvesting.
 
Earlier this summer, Wayzata-based Cargill, Inc., introduced to Minnesota and South Dakota a software service it hopes will stack up against offerings other industry giants. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Minneapolis-basedConservis Corporation—which also offers cloud-based farm management tools—said it received $10 million in venture capital funding that will help it expand its software beyond the 26 states and three continents in which it has customers.
 
Cargill, the largest U.S. agriculture firm and its biggest private company, plans to broaden the distribution of its new NextField DataRx service to more states “over the next several years,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The software helps farmers choose seeds that best fit their land based on a database showing how various seed products fare based on soil and environmental conditions.

Among Cargill’s chief competitors in this area is Monsanto Co., whose former CEO, Robert Shapiro, founded the fund that led Conservis’ latest round of financing. Conservis also announced Tuesday that Shapiro will join its board of directors.
 
“Conservis is our first investment in this market because we believe it will be an important platform to help farmers address the challenges and opportunities they face as new data acquisition and data management technologies are applied to agriculture,” Shapiro said in a statement.
 
Twin Cities BusinessBill Lazarus, an economist at the University of Minnesota’s extension office in St. Paul, said though he didn’t think cloud-based data had made many inroads in agriculture, the idea remains promising. 
 
“The (farmers) that are successful these days, the ones who survived over the years, are pretty progressive,” Lazarus said. “So I don’t think they’re any less likely to adopt from that standpoint than the rest of us.”
 
Pat Christie, Conservis’ founder and CEO, said though he thought the idea of the cloud was “riddled with issues,” being able to focus on one customer set helps his company secure the information its software stores.
 
“You can really build for high data security when you’re not having to be all things to all people,” Christie said.
 
Conservis, founded in 2009, said its service has helped farmers track and manage more than 6 billion pounds of grain in 26 states and across Canada, Australia and Russia. The Star Tribune reported that, before Tuesday, the company had raised $5.5 million over the last five years.

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 09/11/2014 - 02:15 pm.

    No reconstituted fairytale here but…

    could be that Jack and the Bean Stock will be convinced to merge with Gold Bags the Giant and ever so subtly be sold a hill of genetically modified beans?

    If we we could just keep it simple, eh? Just one sustainable, master industrial complex manipulated for profit and eventually…the master plan for all our consumer edible commodities with contractual agreements with Jack the bean grower sucked in with big Giant promising so much for so few? And we will all be duped into crony consumerism with company controlled products?

    Then too, visualize the greater global picture with one controlling base when small farming is an old, dying dream deterred and everybody who puts their genetically modified seeds in the earth from the Ukraine to Minnesota will be growing managed, mammoth food productions… corn, wheat etc; feeding the world for a sweet price controlled by those self indulgent master planners?

    Doesn’t taste too good when food is no longer ‘choice’ but a globally generated sameness?

    We may be headed for the Last Round-up when our land itself becomes absorbed totally into that chemical circus we are headed toward all too quickly?

    What is needed is biodegradable corporation board rooms for such genetically modified power brokers?

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