T. Scherman Acres Ltd is a 6600-acre family farm that grows wheat, peas, canola, and lentils. Since Trevor’s grandfather arrived in 1929, the farm has changed hands within the family through the generations.
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Farmers Edge Technologies: Variable rate technology, weather stations, satellite imagery, yield predictions.
Usage Case: Maximize ROI using existing resources and staff (3 full-time employees, including Trevor, his wife, and a foreman). Trevor’s father continues to farm 200 acres while Trevor hires seasonal employees during busy times
Duration: 12 years
Along with his business partner and wife, Michelle, Trevor Scherman oversees a 6600-acre farm that has been in his family for generations. While Scherman has always leveraged data to better understand his fields and enhance his crops, like many farmers, he’s at the mercy of the weather. The earlier he can identify potential issues before they become major problems and affect his crops, the better. Differences in the soil composition, varying terrain, and a weed outbreak, for example, can all affect output. Because margins are tight, one poor decision can significantly impact his bottom line.
Over time as Scherman acquired more land, he found it harder to stay on top of what was happening across all of the fields and react in real-time to unexpected events. “I used to soil sample my farm from various points and take averages but I didn’t want to farm to the average – I don’t need to be an average farmer,” Scherman explains.
Today, thanks to precision agriculture solutions from Farmers Edge, Trevor Scherman is able to grow more with less while enjoying a better quality of life. Using his iPad, Scherman is able to keep careful watch on his crops from any location. The ability to precisely monitor in-field variability and make decisions for an entire plot have helped transform Scherman’s operations. The more data he has on his fields, the better he can define when a crop may require attention, including the detection of disease or how to better guide how chemicals are applied to maximize his yield. Farmers Edge weather stations positioned around Scherman’s fields provide instant feedback to a real-time dashboard. The dashboard and underlying technology proactively monitor conditions, such as heavy rain or a sudden frost, that could impact Sherman’s yields. Actionable alerts and easy to understand reports allow Scherman to take immediate action to mitigate any risks to his crops. In addition, Scherman credits Farmers Edge with the ability to make more informed decisions about managing future growth. “With Farmers Edge, I know what’s in my soil – what’s left in the soil for nutrients and what amount of fertilizer I’ve put into it – so I’m able to prioritize where to invest to maximize my returns. And, every year I can look at the data and determine what I could have done better as well as how the weather affected my plans.”
The heavy and unexpected frost conditions in 2014 illustrate Farmers Edge technology in action. At 3:30 am, Scherman awoke to alarms from his weather stations on the sudden drop in temperatures and frost on the ground. From his bed, he was able to determine which areas were most problematic and by 5:00 am he had a plan for how to assess the damage, including which areas were at most risk. By that evening, thanks to the predictive capabilities in Farmers Edge, he was enjoying his son’s baseball game, safe in the knowledge that he was on top of any potential issues. Within two days Scherman was reseeding and had his insurance money shortly thereafter, well ahead of his neighbors who were still trying to get in touch with their insurance company. While Scherman notes he’s seen continual ROI on his investment in Farmers Edge, there are some things you just can’t quantify. Despite doubling his farm over the last decade, Scherman’s fulltime staff still remains at three, including himself and his wife. Scherman enjoys summer months at the lake with his family as well as the ability to attend his children’s athletic events with the peace of mind that he can manage the unexpected from his iPad.
“Before Farmers Edge, I was doing a lot of these calculations manually but just couldn’t keep up as my operation got bigger. There are other companies doing data collection but they have a couple of shortcomings. They either don’t provide the consolidated view, the way Farmers Edge does, or they don’t let you keep the data, which is critical. Data is always good but it’s hard to make informed decisions when it’s too granular or you have to log into many point systems. With Farmer’s Edge, the data is all in one place and it’s easy to find the data I want when I need it. My wife has her Ag economics degree so the system also helps her better manage the financial side of our operations. We’ve both discovered that on this platform we can go farther with data-driven decisions that maximize ROI.”
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