When Javier Lopez decided to change from retail agronomy and start his own agronomic consulting business, he wanted to embrace and utilize new technologies that would benefit both him and his clients. Over half of Treskilion Management’s new clients were dairy farms, which need to particularly focus on complying with nutritional regulations.
Having previously used Agworld, Javier recognized that he and his clients needed a platform like Agworld that allowed for collaborative record keeping, data aggregation, and utilization. He therefore decided to implement Agworld and let it help him build his agronomic consultancy business.
By heavily focusing on technology, Javier has been able to work more effectively while also showing extra value to his clients. His clients have benefited from Javier using Agworld by utilizing the data they now have available to them in one centralized and digital Platform. This has enabled Javier to quickly build and grow his own business while maintaining high and differentiating standards.
Location:Yakima Valley, WA
Crops:Hops, Pasture, Corn
Building an agronomic consultancy business
Javier Lopez has lived in the Pacific Northwest since he was young and, after getting heavily involved in FFA, decided to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics. With this degree, Javier moved to California for a number of years before coming back to Washington in 2008. After working for a local consultancy and inputs provider for a number of years, Javier decided to start his own business in early 2019. Javier explains: “I really enjoyed being an agronomic consultant but I felt I wanted to focus more on technology that I could use to help farmers improve their operational results.”
By starting Treskilion Management, Javier was able to put his focus where he wanted and work with those farmers that are as equally excited about technology as he is himself. “Around 50% of my clients are dairy farmers and the other half are growers of hops and some other crops. These are very specific types of farms and they come with their unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to agronomic consulting and the technology that can support the process.”
“Dairy farms are one of the few ag industries in Washington state that are regulated from a crop input standpoint; what nutrition they can apply and when they can apply it. This is mainly to prevent excess phosphates and nitrates being applied, which can do damage to our land if not managed properly and effectively. I really enjoy working with dairy farmers to help them solve their challenges: to me, dairy farms are the best of two worlds; you get animal production and you get crop production and then you can put the two together and hopefully get good results. I feel fortunate that, in my new business, I get to spend so much time with dairy farmers.”
Utilizing technology to track inputs
Half of Treskilion Management’s clients are non-dairying growers with a focus on hops and a range of other crops, for which Javier uses Agworld to track all standard agronomy data. “For my row crop and permanent crop growers, I use Agworld for pest management, fertility management and everything else I can. When I ask any of these growers, even the more progressive ones, to look at their soil samples or see what their fertility program has been like, I usually get some legal yellow pads with coffee stains. So yes, technically speaking they have the information available but not in a format that is any good for data analysis.”
“Now that I help them aggregate their farm data on Agworld, we can slowly start to see the separate pieces of the puzzle come together. It’s not until you have all these separate sources of information come onto the same platform, that you can start to see some patterns which lead to ideas for improvement.”
“The same goes for dairy farms. Because Agworld has such an excellent nutrient tracking system, it allows us to be a lot more precise with the amounts of nutrients we apply to each field. We want to make sure we apply enough nutrients to grow what we need to grow, but we don’t want to apply too much - as this can do harm to the fields and it would also get us in trouble with the regulators. When we apply manure, for example, I can send in a manure analysis and then get this specific nutrient build-up added into Agworld.”
“Previously, these growers had to keep track of their nutrient inputs in complicated spreadsheets where they tracked the products they had used, the elemental build-up and the time at which it was applied. The advantage of doing this all in Agworld is that it’s so much easier to track exactly what was done and, at the end of the season, run one simple report that shows how much of each element was applied to each individual field.”
“These reports are great for regulatory use but also for the dairy farmers and me: we can see exactly what we have done and the results that this yielded so that we can make the necessary adjustments going forward. So Agworld helps dairy farmers in two ways: they stay compliant with relevant regulation and it shows them how management decisions in the past have translated to results and they might be able to improve their decision-making process in the future.”
Continuously improving results
As is the case with every business, Javier and his growers are constantly looking to improve the results of their operations. Javier, through his preference for data-driven technology, knows where to derive these improvements from. Javier: “Agworld is bringing all our data to one place so we can access it and make decisions based on it. Because we have all our data on the same platform, we are able to make these decisions earlier, or easily give other people access to make more timely decisions based upon that information. If you don’t have your data centralized, you can’t share it. And how do you improve? If you can’t measure, you can’t improve; it all starts with data collection and storage.”
“Agworld makes my life easier and helps me service my clients better. I just love it when they ask me a question and I can bring it up right on my phone. ‘How much did we apply?’ Oh look – it’s right here. Instead of having to hunt for this information and waste time going through separate spreadsheets, I have it right here with me; available whenever I need it. Having all my growers’ data available at all times also gives me a competitive advantage as an agronomic service provider; most competitors don’t have this availability and growers realize this, which is why they decide to work with me.”
Javier concludes with: “What we do in an agronomy business can very easily be a data management nightmare. We’re dealing with so much information coming from various different points; fertilizer, chemicals, soil data, crop health and much more. Our job is to make sense of this and by having all this data on the same platform, this job has just become a lot easier and the results have become a lot better; that’s what Agworld brings to me at Treskilion Management.”
Hemp is a relatively new crop for most growers and not much research on varieties, production and inputs has been published. Hemp is a bio-accumulator, meaning that the plant naturally draws toxins from the soil, and it easily absorbs drifting pesticides. Hemp also utilizes high levels of nutrients and therefore requires skilful nutrition management.
Independence key to building a long-term data-driven strategy
Hough Farms was using legacy farm management software but when that company was sold to a large input supplier, they wanted to make sure their farm data was stored with an independent party instead. Hough Farms were also looking for a solution with better reporting capabilities to make data-driven decisions to help manage the business.
Optimising nutrition to produce high-quality tomatoes
Gillieston Fresh Produce grows tomatoes for wholesalers on the East Coast of Australia but were not able to accurately track nutrition and other inputs applied to each field or record the cost of production and profit for a specific field.