Growing profitability with data in the field.

Since human beings began growing crops in a field to establish communities, the mantra has always been “grow more”. Growing more means more food, more stability, and (of course) more money. That money means better equipment, more land, and a means to retire and let the next generation take over. However, one company is showing farmers how to increase profit margins through the use of data.

JC from Crop Tech Solutions in their test field showing how planting depth can aid or hinder the ability of the plant to absorb nutrients. When you lean up your inputs getting every last drop to count is crucial. *Photo taken the morning after heavy rain and 60mph winds

However, with the advent of technology the time honored tradition of growing more took an odd turn. Corn is an industry that measures success in bushels per acre. In chasing more bushels per acre more inputs are needed to push crops to new levels. Farmers may even go bankrupt trying to get a 20% increase in bushels just to better their neighbor or hit a projection.

The advent of technology has changed the paradigm in how crops are cultivated and how they can be grown. Keep in mind, people were still using livestock to plow fields as late as the 1950’s. Now they use ultra precise GPS to navigate a family farm they know like the back of their hands, all for more bushels per acre at harvest time.

John Deere – 1775NT 24 Row 30 Drawn Planter is an example of the level of sophisticated tech in agriculture farmers are pairing with data. This piece of equipment is a far cry from what they used on this ground 50-100 years ago.

With the quest for more bushels comes the additional costs and “inputs”. Inputs can be anything you put into a field to help it grow: water, fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, and more are all inputs. With deep enough pockets you can fund any number of thousands of variables that go into a particular field. But are those inputs really helping you make more money?

Working Smarter not Harder

One company, Crop Tech Solutions, realized you can work smarter and not harder. As it turns out being too productive and chasing higher bushel counts can actually be detrimental to your bottom line. Its such a foreign idea let me write that again another way. You can make more money, from less bushels per acre.

JC Smith with Crop Tech Solutions showing the CAN team the difference planting depth can have on plant growth in a test field. *Photo taken the morning after heavy rain and 60mph winds

Seed companies want to sell more seeds, so more seeds means more profit…but for whom? The soil and field conditions will dictate how the corn grows in the field, not the seed count going in. The more you have to add to that field in terms of inputs the more money it will cost to grow it. Each input erodes your profit margin and if its a down year for corn pricing, you’re in the red pretty fast.

“Traditional” field across the road. Plants of different heights, brown spots, bald spots, smaller plants, tighter grouping, higher input levels. *Photo taken the morning after heavy rain and 60mph winds
An optimized field under Crop Tech Solutions watch. Solid green with no brown spots, low spots, or inconsistent growth. *Photo taken the morning after heavy rain and 60mph winds

So, somewhat counter intuitively, you can make more money farming with less bushels per acre. By using the data and the technology for precision planting you maximize the potential of the plants without competing for resources. Farming smarter, not harder, the plants can reach a greater potential without competing for resources.

Growing with CAN

Contemporary Analysis has been working with Crop Tech Solutions to get even more from their data. The more effective their data collection and prediction, the easier it is for their customers to see significant gains in profitability. Crop Tech Solutions has been able to help local farmers find Millions in efficiencies, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

Crop Tech delivers customized prescriptions for each field. Based on the data points from various aspects of farming. As they layer additional data to the process, the more they are able to predict the best combination of field characteristics and inputs. Their prescription helps crops grow to their fullest potential without wasting input dollars trying to push it along.

Example of the data visualization offered from Crop Tech Solutions. The heat map shows how the field was planted and prescribed growth for inputs. When input into precision planting equipment every individual plant has its optimal conditions for growth.

So how do you get more profit from LESS bushels per acre? It all comes down to how much you have to spend to grow the corn. To get 250 bushels per acre you have to purchase chemicals, fertilizer, fuel, and more. These inputs are often in significant quantities to “push” the field to that bushel target. Plants have to compete for resources so they are strained and don’t grow to full potential. Resources like water, sunlight, and root size can dramatically change the way your crops grow.

Working in inches over hundreds of acres can equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings each year. *Photo taken the morning after heavy rain and 60mph winds

When you use the data to understand what the ground can carry, down to the inch in the field, you can optimize every row to get monster corn that isn’t struggling for limited resources. When the corn can grow to its full potential, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars trying to push it along. The data takes the “gut feeling” out of farming.

Precision agriculture delivers results, but only if you know how to deploy it. You can have the best equipment in the world, but if you don’t set it up right you’re wasting money. The prescription delivered from the layered data points helps program seed planting equipment (for example) accurately. A section of your field may call for a 6 inch gap between plants while another segment, 20 feet away, may call for 1 1/2 inches between plants. The compulsion to “split the difference” and then “set it and forget it” could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. You’re literally betting the farm on how many inches apart you place crops in the field.

JC showing the guys from CAN how the planting types can change from row to row with precision agriculture. This test field shows how plants that are grouped closely together compete for resources. Others that are spaced too far apart aren’t using all the input resources and wasting money in the process. *Photo taken the morning after heavy rain and 60mph winds
Even the depth of the seed being planted can effect the yield per plant. The goal is to understand the variables and how to optimize them for each square food of growing space. *Photo taken the morning after heavy rain and 60mph winds

Very few farmers work on an all cash basis. Each year they take a loan from the bank to fund the operation. These loans can be in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. The less you can spend on inputs the less you need to borrow. The less you need to borrow, the less you have in interest payments. When you go to sell your crops the fluctuating prices mean the farmer who grew quality crops with lean inputs will see more profit. The farmer who grew to the seed company suggestions has a skinnier margin (if any) and could actually lose money growing corn in a bad year.

The red row is planted to the seed provider spec. The blue row is planted to the field and how it can grow corn most efficient. *Photo taken the morning after heavy rain and 60mph winds

The Payoff

At Contemporary Analysis we love working in what we call the “Steel toe industries”. These areas include, Agriculture, Construction, Manufacturing, Transportation, and Logistics. We carry over lessons learned from our non-steel toe clients and vice versa. The end result is a broad spectrum of options where others may only see one or two.

Our goal is to help companies make better data driven decisions at every turn. In this instance, its helping farmers remain profitable year over year. Because of the champions of data like Crop Tech Solutions we can help keep families and even entire communities thriving through data.

Overall we had a great visit with the guys from Crop Tech Solutions. They even gave us a private tour of the Sod House Museum which is one of their passion projects.

If you’d like to see how we could help you do more with less, contact us.

What does the Post COVID-19 Landscape in business look like?

How will the Post COVID-19 pandemic landscape in business be changed? Are we headed to a future like the Jetsons or one like Mad Max? Companies who once feared remote workers are waking up to the benefits of this work/life balance. Others are in panic mode because “we’ve always done it this way” no longer applies.

As a Data Science company, we are always looking ahead. One thing we get asked about is what should business be doing now to prepare for the world in the new normal. At our first in-person lunch meeting Post COVID-19 pandemic, we came to the conclusion the two book-ends are: Jetsons or Mad Max.”

Here are some of our thoughts:

The Post COVID-19 Business Landscape

We believe the major change is how customers now interact with companies. We have, because of the pandemic shown that companies can actually do just fine working from home, can deliver good like groceries, food, and even luxury items without the in-person experience, and that companies can do a better job using technology to deliver what the customer wants, when the customer wants it.

This is pandora’s box. We can’t go back. Because we had to do this to survive, now we have to continue to do it as part of our business model. However, what most companies built in haste, isn’t scalable. It is now time to rethink how we use the data we have (and the data we can get) to build a scalable solution that gives us insight into what customers want, and gives the customers what they desire–better access.

Interestingly enough, when going back through our past project history, we realize we have been building solutions for just this problem for years. Take for example the persona model we built for Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). It is a great example of how to use data for greater impact.

For OPPD, one of the few publically owned utilities in the entire country, our predictive model allowed them to understand which product or service each household had the highest chance to purchase, and then give that insight to their sales and marketing teams. This meant that:

  1. Their customer service agents now had access to which products to recommend when they called in.
  2. Their sales team knew which households were most likely to want each product, and
  3. Their marketing team knew which product to market to each household.

Predictive modeling like this allows companies to “hit” more than “miss”. If your able to be more effective, even by a small margin, you may edge out your competitor. Tell that to Jacob Kiplimo who was on pace to set the world record for a 43:00 15km run. Kiplimo raised his arms to celebrate before crossing the finish line. It was then that Kibiwott Kandie passed him and finished in 42:59 and was the first to break the record instead.

Understanding how to start with data-driven decisions can be tough. Lucky for you, there is a company that can help you get this kind of insight, and teach you how to do it. Contact Us today and we’ll be happy to help ensure you hit the ground running post-COVID.

Using AI to fight scam calls

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a solution we can build at Contemporary Analysis. One of the biggest questions about AI is “what can it do?”. So many people see AI and jump straight to terminator movies. But it can be so much more. In our journey to find you examples, we found an entertaining way to look at AI and how it was used to fight scam calls. The clip is from the YouTuber Kitboga.

Lately it seems like we are getting more calls that are scams than actual calls from friends and family. The scammers are persistent and they won’t stop until they get paid.

Unfortunately, the largest target of these scammers are elderly people who may or may not fully understand technology. In a matter of minutes the scammer has made off with hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Kitboga is known for his antics driving scammers crazy and taking up as much of their time as possible. In doing so he is keeping them from making dozens of calls to other victims. He’s truly a master of wasting scammers time and driving them insane.

The AI in this video was built for entertainment purposes and YouTube views. But it showcases the importance of building and then training your AI.

If you’ve got a directive or are just curious about what AI could do for your company. Give us a call and we’ll see how we can help!

Contemporary Analysis

CAN Business Development Officer, Justin Trowbridge, Featured Bellevue Alumni.

Recently our very own Justin Trowbridge was featured in a piece in the Bellevue University Alumni Blog.

After getting his BS in Industrial Design years ago Justin went back to school prior to to coming to CAN to get his Masters in Marketing. Thankfully for us he’s retained his technical acumen and ability to solve problems creatively.

Justin came on board with CAN in December of last year and has been busy working on all things CAN. That includes our Data Science Academy, Inventory Batch Tracker, and Hemp Batch Tracker solutions.

“I was in the first cohort class for the MS in Marketing degree at Bellevue. They didn’t have an option for in person classes at the time so it was all online.” said Trowbridge. “When we did the photo shoot, I was blown away there was a 3 story indoor waterfall on campus!”

You can read the full article on the Bellevue University Alumni Blog link below.

CAN goes Global!

You may remember a few weeks ago we teased something about Australia. Well the cat is out of the bag, and Nate was featured on on Cindy Tonkin’s podcast Smarter Data People, out of Australia.

We, as a company, are always excited to talk about all things data. But we get really excited when we’re contacted from the other side of the planet to talk about Data Science.

Nate and Cindy covered a lot of ground during their talk about the importance of the culture behind a data driven organization and how you train and manage data scientists.

Nate Watson – President

We’re coming to a point very quickly where it (Data Science) is the minimum to do business.

Nate Watson

If you know Nate you know he’s got a passion for advancing the cultural changes that need to happen in a company to allow data to thrive. This passion is what brought the Omaha Data Science Academy into existence to help get more people engaged in this process.

Click Here to listen to the full podcast or to read the transcript.

Cindy Tonkin’s Podcast

CAN drops the hammer on the Hammerschlagen Challenge!

When the opportunity came up to buy a Hammerschlagen log our Business Development Officer, Justin Trowbridge, couldn’t resist! So now we’re issuing a challenge!

Downtown for an afternoon? In the area for lunch? Got time between meetings? Just want to stop by and say hello? Looking for an excuse to NOT go back to the office? Looking for an excuse to get OUT of the office? Just want to stop by and have a little fun with team CAN? The answer my friends…is Hammerschlagen!

Hammerschlagen is a game that originates in Germany. Played during Oktoberfest people gather round and play with sledgehammers.

Nate in mid “Schlagen”

Players take turns using the pointed end of the hammer and try to drive a nail into the log. Whomever can sink the nail flush first is the winner!

We are the reigning champions of the inter office Hammerschlagen world championship. (our office, our world championship) As champions, we have to take on all challengers to defend our title!

All we ask is you shoot us an email, text, or call to make sure we’re in the office and not in the middle of a meeting!

Want one of your own? Need a home Hammerschlagen advantage? Get in touch with our friends at Wood Chaser!

CAN to be a Judge at UNO's BigIdea! Pitch Contest.

At CAN we spend a lot of time, and I mean a LOT of time kicking around ideas. We are in the business of innovation and problem solving. In the process we even solve a few problems we weren’t expecting to tackle.

When the University of Nebraska of Omaha reached out to help judge this years BigIdea! Pitch contest…it was a no brainer. The next big idea is out there and you’ll never know what it is until someone takes a big step.

We’re excited to be able to help students with big ideas get a leg up on their ideas. Often times the difference between success and failure is a few questions that should have been asked early on.

Our Business Development Officer, Justin Trowbridge, will be on the panel for the 2 day event. Come see the finalists in person on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 6:00 PM in the Mammel Hall Auditorium.

Word Camp 2019 Data Hierarchy Video

The folks at Word Camp Omaha released the video of our presentation this week. If you’ve been wanting to learn about our Data Hierarchy series this is a quick crash course.

If you like what you see with Data Hierarchy but don’t now where to start…we can help. Contact Us today and we’ll help get the ball rolling for your data driven decision making.

CAN Presenting at 1 Million Cups Omaha!

Next Wednesday our Business Development Officer, Justin Trowbridge, will be speaking at the Omaha Chapter of 1 Million Cups!

He will be covering our new solution Hemp Batch Tracker. Hemp is a growing industry (pun intended) and is estimated to be 20 Billion dollars by 2022. Our solution is at the forefront of looming regulation and compliance needs for commercial hemp production.

1 million cups
1 million cups

Stop by and check it out!

9/25 @ 8am

Enough with the teasing…show us Gilbert Gottfried!

Well if you made it to Wordcamp Omaha or Heartland Developers Conference you may have seen our Data Hierarchy Series presentation.

To help set the tone and to have a little fun, we hired Gilbert Gottfried to do what he does best…rant and rave. Using our extensive network of resources and hunting down lead after lead after lead to get to him we hired him to do our intro. (100% made up…it was super easy to hire him…and for WAY less than anyone here though it would be!)

Here is the video in its entirety:

Leave a comment below with how much you think it cost to hire him. The actual answer may surprise you!

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