Farmers Edge hits big time with ‘strategic digital’ deal

CNH Industrial isn’t a household name, but it should be.

The company is one of the largest manufacturers of tractors and construction equipment in the world — including familiar brands like Case IH and New Holland — and had revenues of US$27 billion in 2017.

Joining forces with a $27 billion firm is a big deal, which is why Farmers Edge, a Winnipeg-based agri-tech company, is thrilled by its new partnership with CNH Industrial.

“It’s a very important milestone for (Farmers Edge),” said Ron Osborne, the company’s chief strategy and product officer.

“CNH is an unbelievable company.”

In early November, Farmers Edge and CNH Industrial announced a “strategic digital agriculture agreement” in which Farmers Edge technology and services will be made available to Case IH and New Holland customers around the globe.

Farmers Edge started out in 2005 as a firm specializing in variable rate technology, helping farmers use fertilizer and other inputs more efficiently. Now the company describes its service as “decision agriculture,” or helping farmers make informed decisions through data collection and analysis.

“As the exclusive OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partner of Farmers Edge, this service offers Case IH and New Holland customers a tiered approach to agronomic services,” CNH said in a statement.

“(Producers can) select the service — with a transparent per acre pricing structure — that best suits their needs. The entry level services focus on FarmCommand, Farmers Edge’s cloud-based farm data management platform which analyzes data in real time … providing daily satellite imagery for unsurpassed crop growth insights.”

Farmers Edge is already a significant player in the segment of agriculture known as data-driven precision agriculture.

The company has 550 employees and services 22 million acres in North America, South America, Australia and Europe. In November, Export Development Canada (EDC) recognized Farmers Edge as one of Canada’s Cleantech Export Stars.

“Precision agriculture is the biggest change to farming since the first agricultural revolution, and no other company has anything close to the suite of services we provide,” Farmers Edge co-founder and chief executive officer Wade Barnes said in an EDC news release.

“We know precision agriculture is the way of the future and we are ready to gear up for it, but so are a lot of other companies that don’t offer as much as we do but have a lot more money to expand.”

The partnership with CNH Industrial should level the playing field because New Holland and Case IH have dealerships around the world and global reach.

“We’re going to be offering interesting and compelling programs to the CNH dealerships,” Osborne said from his office in Omaha, Nebraska.

“To help them have a better relationship with the farmer.”

Producers, in Canada, the United States and elsewhere already use Farmers Edge technology on a range of tractor and equipment brands. CNH made it clear that producers can use the technology and services on “mixed fleets” of equipment.

“This agreement will allow Case IH and New Holland customers to connect their current and legacy machinery fleets … to the Farmers Edge platform,” CNH said.

“This will deliver tangible gains in all three key stages of the crop data cycle: collection, planning and execution.”

Case IH and New Holland will roll out their Farmers Edge offerings in phases, starting in the first quarter of 2019 in North America and then in South America, Australia, Europe, Russia and Ukraine.

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