Brennan Turner is in the business of making farm tools easier to use.
“That is the crux of any technology that you want farmers to use regularly,” said Turner, who runs Farmlead.com.
“Make it easier to put to work whenever they need it or want it.”
However, Turner doesn’t make machinery or precision agricultural equipment.
Instead, he helps farmers market crops.
The tools he describes are a website interface and a smartphone or tablet application that put buyers of grain and producers together to make deals.
The system allows farmers with inventory and grain buyers looking for supplies to find each other while keeping their names out of the arrangement until price and delivery terms have been agreed upon.
Operating for a few years, Turner’s company had built up a list of things it knew needed changing.
“We could have been developing more features and cool new aspects to the system but decided to focus on keeping the upgrades simple,” he said about this past fall’s overhaul of the parts of the grain marketing system that users could see.
Turner said it wasn’t easy to decide to make major changes to a product that has been growing by 10 to 20 percent per month, de-pending on the time of year.
“You want to keep the things that are bringing you customers and deal with those that annoy them,” he said.
“That sounds simple. It’s not, even for a small organization.”
Turner’s team renovated the look and feel of the website and mobile application, making the interface more reliable, “solving any freezing and technology issues” and adding a live chat feature that lets farmers and buyers converse instantly, within the deals, to ask questions and post answers.
The mobile site and website share a look and feel with the new design, and Turner said that while more tools are planned for the marketing platform, such as adding photos to the live chat, none of the plans will make it more complex to use.
“We always come back to asking ourselves, ‘what makes this an issue for a farmer to use?’ Fix that.”