Partnership packs punch

Farmers Edge joins forces with IBM in an effort to provide producers with useful weather info

If there were any doubts about the ambitions of Farmers Edge, they have now been erased.

The Manitoba company, which specializes in precision agriculture and farm data management, has announced a partnership with one of the world’s iconic companies, IBM.

Farmers Edge will partner with the Weather Company, an IBM business, to provide farmers with “hyper local forecasts.”

“We hope to help the agriculture industry leverage the most precise weather data possible in order to optimize critical decisions,” said Mark Gildersleeve, the Weather Company’s president, business solutions.

“This deal brings together the most advanced weather forecasting science in the industry and a leader in ag-data to create a one-of-a-kind platform to support decision-making that will improve yields for growers around the world.”

IBM bought the Weather Company in January, acquiring its mobile and cloud based web products, including weather.com, Weather Underground and its business solutions division.

According to its website, the Weather Company is the world’s largest private weather enterprise. It provides up to 26 billion forecasts a day, has the world’s largest network of personal weather stations, is a top 20 U.S. website and has the seventh most data-rich site in the world.

“Obviously IBM … is a major player. For us, it’s an extension of the strong partners we’ve put in place,” said Patrick Crampton, Farmers Edge chief operating officer.

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“It’s the next step … in our overall strategy around having the right data to drive these models and decisions on the farm.”

The partnership will allow Farmers Edge to “integrate” detailed weather data into its farm management products.

“What the announcement is about is … their world class forecasting, a forecast on-demand product in terms of hyper local forecast,” Crampton said.

“And taking that information and combining that with the Farmers Edge field-centric weather stations … that we deploy on our client’s farms.”

The weather data and forecasts are expected to help farmers when making decisions.

“Timing of application, especially with producers with land spread over a large area,” Crampton said.

“Applying those forecasts to crop growth stage models and pest models. (It) increases that ability to plan ahead.”

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The IBM announcement is the latest in a series of Farmers Edge partnerships, investments and expansions over the last 15 months. Last summer, the company opened its U.S. headquarters in Minnesota and has ambitious goals for this year.

“We’re looking to have five million acres (of farmland) under management by the end of the second quarter this year in North America,” Crampton said.

“Compared to middle of last year, it would be over … two to three times growth.”

In a separate announcement, Farmers Edge released expansion plans for South America.

The company has hired a former Monsanto executive to manage its operations in Brazil. Farmers Edge now manages 140,000 acres in that country, which it hopes to increase to 1.4 million acres by the end of this year.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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