Ann Arbor Firm Lets Farmers Go High-Tech

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Ann Arbor-based FarmLogs — which produces a software program for computers used by farmers to manage and analyze their operations in a bid to increase profitability — has turned the agricultural database into an app for smartphones.

The mobile application can log and track field activities such as planting, fertilizing, and harvesting using a GPS-enabled mobile app or browser. Farmers can then review the crop history for all entered years for the past five years, which allows them to make more informed decisions regarding crop rotation and other farming decisions.

The software first came about when Jesse Vollmar and Brad Koch, who formed an IT consulting business while attending high school, worked with several farmers who were frustrated with the technology available. Vollmar knew where they were coming from.

“I grew up on a farm so it’s very personal to me,” says Vollmar, CEO. “When I tried to help my family’s business by figuring out how to use technology to manage a farm, I found that a lot of the software programs had been built over a decade ago and didn’t provide a good user experience.”

So Vollmar and Koch developed FarmLogs, which allows farmers to digitally manage their farms’ profitability through software and smartphones.

Paul Wagner, who operates a Michigan Centennial Farm in Grawn, south of Traverse City, is a fan of the software’s rainfall tracking feature, which shares “what fields got rain and how much. We have nearly 900 acres of land in four different townships, so there can be a drastic difference in the amount of moisture in a given area. This saves us time we would have spent checking the rain gauges,” he says.

Wagner’s farm is just one of several to use FarmLogs. In fact, Vollmar says the software is used by “over 2 percent of row cut farms in the United States.” He says, “there’s a lot of people who are actively seeking good management software,” and since FarmLogs is a tech company with high online visibility, it’s one of the top search engine results in its field.

Vollmar says the company noticed the most user growth in early summer, after they had released the rainfall-tracking feature and made a number of other improvements. The company also just launched several enhancements to help farmers during the upcoming harvest. The software can “help a farmer find the absolute best price for their grain (or product) in real time on a map. (The user) can compare the prices and sort the information by distance from their farm.”

In another project, FarmLogs has teamed up with Purdue University for ISOBlue.org, an open source project to forward data from farm machinery over Bluetooth. Vollmar says the information will allow users to better track yield information from the field.  

“We have really big ambitions,” Vollmar says. “We’re always listening to user feedback, and we’ve got big lofty goals.”

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