Supporting Sustainable Agriculture through Software Development

At LoginEKO, we are developing farming software for modern farmers who are looking to stay ahead of the game.

Farming software is an essential tool for modern farmers who are looking to stay ahead of the game. With its help, they can manage all aspects of their operations from a single platform, allowing them to increase efficiency, streamline processes, and ultimately improve profitability. We at LoginEKO are ahead of this game by developing our own Farm Management Software that will support our efforts to transform the entire food system – every step from farm to fork.

There are already various software solutions on the market, but what is missing is the real, full integration of different processes, like farm planning, farm operations execution, materials and produce processing, and storage. So, we are working on closing the circle and integrating all those processes together with full monitoring and data acquisition into a holistic solution that can cover the whole farm management.

We are the only large-scale farm that has its own software development, and the only software development team that has its own farm. This enables us to ensure the collection of traceability data on our farm with our own in-house software solution. We are developing farm management software to reduce complexity and costs, achieve traceability in case of a recall, certification, or subsidies, and shorten the development cycles targeting large-scale farms. LoginEKO farming software will make it easy for any farmer to introduce new sustainable and economically viable practices that will help keep soil healthy for future generations without disrupting business. We are still fine-tuning the solutions and testing them on our fields before we will share them with other farmers for free. Let us introduce it to you by our Software Product Manager, Matjaž Uršič.

Need breeds innovation

Matjaž tells us that the idea to develop our own software came from the need to operate our 4,400-hectare big farm in Serbia efficiently : “Our farm is simply too big and complex to keep track in one’s head or write post-its on the office board. Firstly, we checked what was already available on the market, but it didn’t meet our needs. So, in 2019, LoginEKO started developing its own software that would include a map to spatially see all the things as they happen over time, later on as well as storage management, operations management, and work orders. Initially, we called it a “farming browser,” but, with the development of other functions, it was no longer just a browser between data anymore.”

“We work on the integration of the whole system, which is our plus – but also is our cross,” says Matjaž, “because we are developing a much bigger and more complex system than those currently available.”

Different modules for different farm operations

We plan to close the full circle of integrated farm management with a plethora of software solutions including a farm fields map (for spatial and temporal views of any collected farm data and our own coverage maps), operations management (for planning, execution, and verification of all operations on the field from simple scouting to heavy tractor operations), warehouse and processing management (for all materials and products in farm storage and processing lines), and reporting (for different kinds of insights from our full traceability data).

Some are already regularly used at our farm, some are still in the pipeline. Let’s have a closer look.

The entry point in our software is a map of fields with many additional layers of data (e.g., RGB and NDVI drone images, weather data, etc.). By clicking on a field, one has access to the entire history and plan of operations on that field. Operations data include location, timing, sowing rates, elevation data, speed, field reports, field pictures, ratings, and much much more. All this information serves the agronomists to learn about the field remotely and plan the activities.

Agronomists can use an operations management module for field operations, which has a very useful feature called ‘templates.’ This is a set of operations, for example for green manure, that an agronomist can upload to a field and send work orders to workers’ mobile phones for execution. Collected worker data, such as fuel usage and completed tasks, are returned to the system for tracking purposes (verification, decision-making, reporting, and in the future machine learning purposes). In addition, we determine costs, because we already know how much individual operations using specific equipment cost. “Our innovation is that we are building a knowledge base at the same time and can share it with others on and off the farm. By sharing knowledge and best practices, we can improve our operations for next year,” is Matjaž’s explanation of the added value.

The mobile phone work orders module is cheaper than the tractor-connected option since it doesn’t require an additional expensive device to collect and share tractor data. “In the future, we plan to connect the phone and the tractor, so that the data from the machines could be sent straight into our system. That would be a huge advantage.” Because once you have a mobile app you easily add other functionalities. Matjaž provides another example: “Our diverse scouting module allows agronomists to report on field conditions like plowing quality, weed presence, etc. This helps provide a broader understanding of the field and surroundings, including biodiversity preservation.”

An important module that we have in the pipeline is the warehouse management system. Until now, warehouse processes required manual handling of materials and products in different solutions, but we’re developing a warehouse system that will be single source of truth for material and product data, and will be linked to all needed external systems (e.g., ERP, accounting system, work orders, 3rd party farming systems). In this way, we automate material handling and reduce manual errors.

Collecting data

“Our idea is to capture data from any source,” explains Matjaž. At our farm, we collect data automatically from drones and tractors’ telemetry systems, then manually from agronomists and tractor operators, and from our finances to determine the cost of operations. “Once our software is available to others, they can input data into the system using any available means. And even if they don’t have anything, including drones or a telemetry system on tractors, they can use our apps to collect the data.” What is important is that one has the ownership and access to the collected data.

Is this for every farmer? “Not really,” admits Matjaž. “This makes sense for large farms with a minimum 100 hectares, or better 500 + hectares. It comes in handy for those who cannot process, track, and improve the work without some kind of system. We plan to work on solutions for smaller farmers too, but we are not there yet.”

Going beyond simplifying work

In addition to improving and automating things for the user, to make it easier and smarter for them to reach higher yields and improve profits, a crucial benefit of our software system is traceability.

Traceability is a base for developing and achieving any sustainability goals and for that you need trusted data. With full traceability, we have detailed data about the product cycle from the seeds that we buy and put into soil, through operations used while crops are growing, to the harvesting. And, also to all transporting and processing steps once products arrive into our warehouses. From all that data, we have our food safety and transparency in place with which we can achieve the accountability of what we do.

Matjaž explains further: “We collect all data at every possible step, which means that we have a source of truth about the whole process.” So, farmers can prove they followed proper procedures, in the event of a food recall or to demonstrate compliance with organic food standards to a buyer. It can also be used to prove that they meet the conditions for a specific certification or when applying for some kind of subsidy. “In the long term, we plan to enter the market of Greenhouse Gas coupons with it too,” adds Matjaž.

There are so many ideas and possibilities we still want to explore, because a farm is just the first link of the whole food chain. Farming software is transforming the way farmers operate, providing them with the insights and tools they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. By using our solutions, they can have a more significant impact on the world. They can use trusted data to devise the most effective and environmentally friendly methods for sustainable agriculture. They are not only more competitive, but can better use their land, enriching it instead of depleting it, so that they can pass it on to generations to come.

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