There are many experts in the agriculture sector with valuable input and advice to share, but making the connection when and where it’s needed is often difficult.
For Patrick Walther and Robert Saik, the solution is a virtual platform to bring farmers and agribusiness professionals together in real-time. The two co-founded AGvisorPRO last year in an effort to solve the connectivity gap they see in the sector.
Why it matters: Faster, more convenient access to expertise can help farmers make better decisions on key aspects of their business, from crop protection to financial planning.
“There is nobody in North America who tries to do what we do,” says COO Patrick Walther. “I could community source on Twitter and that’s fair and totally part of the solution, but are you really getting the right advice on Twitter before making a $15,000 fungicide decision?”
AGvisorPRO’s app for mobiles, tablets and desktops is free to download and offers farmers different streams of access to experts and information.
One avenue is a free, direct connection to AGvisorPRO’s Tech Direct partner companies, which include leading agricultural manufacturers, suppliers and retailers. A click of a button in the app’s directory will enable a direct video call connection or the ability to book an appointment for a specific time.
“If you’re having equipment problems in the field, you can reach out to someone who can help you on the spot; it’s always a free call, farmers don’t have to pay,” explains Walther. “We’re a platform not just for agronomics but for the entire breadth of what we do on the farm.”
To date, AGvisorPRO has welcomed approximately 40 agribusiness partners to its Tech Direct company roster ranging from agronomic solution providers like A&L Canada Labs and SeCan to equipment and business service providers such as VeriGrain, FCC Advisory Services and MNP.
Farmers can also use the app to make a connection to independent agricultural advisors and consultants for advice and support and through a new pilot project with the government of Saskatchewan, their extension specialists are now also accessible through the platform.
And just last month, a new partnership was launched with BASF’s xarvio scouting app to give app users real-time access to local agronomic advisors in addition to BASF’s support team.
The concept of instant connectivity is resonating with the industry. AGvisorPro was a finalist and People’s Choice Award winner at the 2021 THRIVE Canada innovation challenge and was named the Ag in Motion Innovation of the Year award winner last year. The company has also grown from two to 27 employees since its launch.
Ontario-based BioLine produces fulvic acid, a biostimulant to boost crop nutrient and water use, using spent mushroom substrate. AGvisorPRO offers the company an additional way to connect with farmers - especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted more traditional routes like farm shows and meetings.
“Our product requires an education of the market and of the grower because it is a new product, so AGvisorPRO is a critical part of our sales cycle,” says BioLine’s Mohammad Rahbari. “It’s an opportunity for agronomic troubleshooting on the spot. For example, if a grower sees drought stress and is looking for ways to help the crop survive, they could reach out and we could help with our product, but also with agronomics because of the expertise on our team.
“We don’t expect this to generate a lot of calls immediately, but we are in it for the long term to develop what is needed to support the shift to stronger direct relationships between technology, growers and knowledge,” he adds.
Although the platform started in Western Canada, the company is actively seeking new partners and experts in Eastern Canada across all sectors of agriculture. According to Walther, they are particularly looking for more independent experts from Ontario, especially those with livestock expertise.
There is also a push to expand into the northern United States, and more integrations are planned to make it easier for AGvisorPRO users to move between various digital platforms.