App helps farmers optimize inputs, time and resources

Climate FieldView, a tablet-based software platform, allows growers to easily collect and stream data for better decision making

Last year, when Patrick Bellefroid was seeding his corn crop, he wanted to trial a new seed treatment on his farm. He read all the product information and spoke to his rep, but he knew he had another option to test out what really offered him the best results — running a full-scale trial on his farm.

While that may sound daunting, it really didn’t involve much work. It was simply a matter of plugging the plan into his Climate FieldView digital platform and then watching how the season played out.

“Using the app, I input the split program into my planter and did two six-row trials across my entire field,” says Bellefroid. “Everything looked pretty much the same throughout the season, and I couldn’t even tell the difference when we weighed it after harvest.

“But when I went into the platform and did circle reports in different areas, we saw we had a six-bushel increase in one field over the other,” he says. “When I calculated the return on investment over the entire field, that made a big difference. I am going to do the same thing again this year to make sure I get the same results, as it’s easy to do it with this kind of technology.”

TEST DRIVE AND SUPPORT

Climate FieldView is a digital software platform that brings together all of the information collected through all farm equipment and helps growers use that data to optimize the use of their products, time and resources.

In addition to facilitating on-farm trials, FieldView provides yield analysis, side-byside field region reports and field health satellite imagery to help make data-driven decisions. All of the data is 100 per cent grower-owned, and growers choose how much data they share and with whom.

Bellefroid, who farms with his father and brother on their family farm in southwest Quebec, was an early adopter of FieldView, and has been using the platform since 2016. His father initially signed up online after seeing a demonstration at a farm show. To sign up, growers log onto the Climate FieldView site (climatefieldview.ca) and create an account.

“This year we are continuing our ‘try it before you buy it’ program,” says Chapin Bell, climate business manager with Climate FieldView. “As soon as they create an account, growers have access to the full program and all of the platforms and features for a full year, allowing them to see everything it can do for their farm before they commit to a subscription. They also have access to all the in-person supports from our FieldView team.”

Once registered, growers are sent a FieldView drive. With “plug and play” functionality, it takes all of the data a grower has been collecting across all equipment and platforms and starts analyzing it in a single location. The information is then relayed via Bluetooth to the FieldView digital platform on a grower’s iPad or phone.

“For those who are new to the digital experience, we wanted to mitigate any concerns they might have about how they could use this technology on their farm, so we have a support team to help provide the best digital experience,” says Bell.

“As soon as they have signed up, our Climate team is notified and a specialist will reach out within five days. The specialist will come out in person and help growers set up their equipment and walk them through the applications, one-onone. We never leave people to figure this out on their own.”

APPS THAT MATTER TO FARMERS

Climate FieldView was originally launched in eastern Canada and was tailored for corn and soybean growers. As its popularly grew, program developers visited western Canadian growers and asked what they would need to make it work for them. At the top of that list of needs was making the platform work with many types of equipment. Today, FieldView can draw data from most equipment manufacturers.

There are two applications associated with FieldView. The first, the cab app, is used in-season to gather all the real-time data on seeding, spraying and harvest. It has an analysis feature that allows growers to look back at the data they’ve gathered in previous days, months and years to help guide their decision making that season. Then there is the full application, which is more of an advisory app. It allows growers to share information with their agronomist if they so choose. On this application growers will find different areas for scouting via satellite imagery, yield analysis functions, tracking farm activities and also a weather function. But there are also several different functions that help growers simplify trials and make proper application decisions through field region reports.

“Growers often use field region reports to run variety or application trials,” says Bell. “They can seed four different hybrids in a field and then draw circles around those areas on the app and compare their performance. It’s a simplified way to run a trial in a very localized, full-field scaled way.”

The digital platform also offers different features that allow growers the opportunity to customize the tool for their individual needs. For instance, growers can create variable rate fertilizer and seed maps. These zoning maps are created through the website and imported into the grower’s equipment.

The yield analysis tool allows growers to take a closer look at what’s working in each field. They can break down yield results by crop, by hybrid or seed variety, or by field. There are three different types of satellite imagery available to use depending on your needs. Growers use the imagery for scouting purposes to determine biomass, which helps assess disease risk or to get a snapshot of the health of their crop.

Bellefroid says that he started out looking at yield maps and then moved to trialing information with his planter. From there he has been comparing harvest information based on fertilizer choices, seed treatments and other in-season practices. The cab view in the combine works seamlessly with the app on his phone and tablet so he gets the same information no matter where he wants to access it.

Once everything is started on the platform during a trial, FieldView knows where Bellefroid is in the field and what it is supposed to be looking at. “If you start your planter and are running for variable rate populations, it will map that for you,” he says. “When you are harvesting it tells you when you are in that area of the field, and where any changes have been made. This year I will be lowering my population based on a sandy hill and the platform already knows this based on harvest data from the previous season.

“For us, the fact that we can get data based on our whole field instead of a small test plot makes it much more relevant,” says Bellefroid. “We have always looked at ways to be more competitive and using technology (to become more innovative) has been an important part of our business. We think FieldView gives us an advantage when all of the data we collect applies directly to our own operation.”