Clinton Mullan previously utilised a legacy technology provider to create plans for his agronomy clients, but this system was not cloud-based and was not available in-field; making in-season decision making challenging.
When Agworld became available to the Australian market in early 2011, Clinton decided to switch to the Agworld platform for both his agronomic activities as well as managing his own farm.
Clinton now uses Agworld for all agronomic planning, and over half of his client base collaborate with Clinton on the Agworld platform to create their farm records. Clinton and farm manager Bruce Shaw now also have all in-field data for Deadfinish farm accessible in Agworld on their iPad for analysis purposes.
Deadfinish Farm and Tincurrin Rural Services
Area served:250000+ acres
Crops:Wheat, barley, canola
Fourth-generation farmer and agronomist
Clinton Mullan grew up on the family farm, Deadfinish in Dudinin, WA, and is currently the 4th generation of his family to own and operate this property. Next to farming, Clinton is a part owner of, and full-time agronomist with nearby Tincurrin Rural Services. Clinton joined Tincurrin Rural Services straight out of university as trainee agronomist, gained a lot of experience, and has been a part owner in the business since 2005. To manage the farm, Clinton employs farm manager Bruce Shaw, who oversees the day-to-day operations of Deadfinish Farm as well as some contract spraying work.
Deadfinish farm is a 2,300 hectare cropping operation with mainly barley, wheat and canola grown, supplemented with some lupins and hay. Clinton: “Any farm owner will tell you that having the right people in the right place is critical to their operation; Deadfinish is no exception to this. Having Bruce manage the farm allows me to fully focus on my agronomy clients, but because we’re both on Agworld, I’m still able to see exactly what’s happening on Deadfinish. Bruce and I together create a crop plan in Agworld before the season starts, so we both know exactly what we want to do in each field. Sometimes circumstances, such as lack of rainfall or certain weeds, will force Bruce to be creative and deviate from the plan, but in 90% of the cases our plan in Agworld will form the guideline for what we do during the season.”
Bruce adds to this: “Growing up on our family farm in Zimbabwe, combined with a mechanical engineering degree and few years’ work experience in agronomic research for an ag retailer, means that I have a very diverse background and a very keen interest in all things farming. Because we use Agworld on Deadfinish farm, I’m able to easily look back on data from years past if I have any queries, and I can learn from this historic data. Through Agworld I also don’t just get exposed to the operational part of the farm, but have good visibility into our planning, budgeting and post-season analyses as well, so I have a solid understanding of how we’re performing financially in each field and what we might be able to improve moving forward.”
From planning to in-field execution
At the start of each season, Clinton creates cropping plans in Agworld for all of his agronomy clients, around 40 farming operations in total, with a lot of historic information to inform the decisions for seasons to come. Clinton: “Because I’ve been using Agworld for 10 years now, I have all that historic information such as rotations and herbicide use to refer back to when planning the next season. Especially for newer herbicides, take Sakura for example, it’s critical to not lose them from our rotation because of tolerance or resistance issues. By having accurate records of when they were used in a field, at which rate, and what the result was, we can ensure that we use Sakura in a way that won’t result in herbicide tolerance or resistance; Agworld is the critical tool for us to help achieve this.”
Once Clinton has created the cropping plan for his growers, the information gets shared immediately with his merchandising colleagues at Tincurrin Rural Services. Clinton: “Agworld’s information sharing capabilities really help us service our growers well as a business. As soon as the plans for the season ahead have been finalised, our merchandising team has a pretty good idea which quantities of seed, fertiliser and chemicals they’ll have to order and deliver. With manufacturers carrying less stock every year, accurate forecasting and early ordering is becoming more important for us; Agworld simplifies and streamlines the stock management process.”
Clinton continues: “When the season kicks off and I’m in the field checking crops, it’s easy to turn a planned activity into a recommendation and send this to the grower with all the information they need. The best part for me is that I can do this while I’m in the field. I don’t need to return to the office first or find a computer somewhere; I do it on my iPad right there in the field. Around half my grower clients use Agworld themselves as well, so they receive this recommendation on their Agworld account; the other growers receive a PDF via email which tells them exactly what I’m recommending them to do in each field. For me, with servicing over 100,000 hectares as an agronomist, speed and accuracy are vital during the season, which is why I need to use Agworld.”
Using data for continuous improvement
On Deadfinish farm, Bruce and Clinton try to collect as much data as possible on the Agworld platform in order to improve their decision making process even further in future. Bruce explains: “As soon as I’m finished spraying a field, I pull up Agworld and enter everything that I’ve done as accurately as possible; date, time, the precise amount of chemical used, water rate, etc. So, if there are any issues in the field later on, it might be because we used a slightly lower rate when we were on the last dregs of a drum of chemicals for example, with Agworld we’ve got a record of that and know exactly what happened and when, so we can all relate this back to the event.”
Bruce continues: “We also analyse our yield and other precision data in PCT Agcloud, which is integrated with Agworld, so that this data automatically flows into Agworld. Having our yield data available on the iPad in Agworld is really useful to me as I can now utilise it right in the field. When I’m on the header and I’m going through a patch where the yield is lower and I’m not sure why, I can pull up the historical yield maps and see whether there is a trend in that field, with specific crops, or whatever the case might be. With that as a reference, I can then go back to past seasons and try to figure out what’s going on - is it pH, is it sodium, is it heavy clay, is it compaction, or is it just a seasonal occurrence? Whatever the reason might be - having all this data available on the same platform really gives me the best chance of more quickly diagnosing the issue.”
Clinton concludes with: “Only half of my grower clients actively use Agworld for their farm record keeping but, as you can see with what we’re doing on my own farm, it can definitely help them improve the bottom line of their operation. It also helps me as an agronomist when I can see the accurate application records for each field in Agworld; it all adds to the total amount of data at my disposal when making decisions. Agworld makes field data accessible to growers and myself when we’re in the field, instead of having to go sit down and spend time in the office, which is why I recommend all growers start using Agworld as well and start entering their data on the platform so we can utilise it now and in years to come.”
Agronomy Focus director and Senior Agronomist Quenten Knight provides agronomic consultancy services to over 40 growers who grow a combined 200,000+ hectares of crops each year. For each of these growers it is critical to have as much accurate data available on-time, in order to make the best crop-management decisions throughout the season.