Growing up on a farm in Kulm, North Dakota, Peter Schott remembers well the scale tickets picked up at grain elevators; white slips of paper clipped to the truck visor and flapping in the wind, or stuffed into an empty coffee can on the dashboard. It was standard routine. Haulers came to pick up harvest from the growers, take it to the grain elevator, and get a scale ticket. The ticket showed the details of the order, from weigh-in to weigh-out. They take that back to the grower, and so on and so on.
On the back-end, the farmers are constantly on the phone, Schott said. Calling the grain elevator to make sure the order came in. Calling the haulers to make sure they’re on the right track. Sometimes the scale tickets were lost and had to be traced back.
“It becomes a big mess,” Schott said.
This is why he and Ryan Raguse created mAgri, a mobile app being developed by Myriad Mobile that digitizes the scale ticket process. It allows growers, haulers and grain elevator managers to monitor when the order left and when it arrived, and how much still needs to be shipped — all on a mobile platform.
The app will be sold to and branded for individual grain elevators, and offered to the clients who use that elevator, Schott said. The app pulls data from the application programming interface (API) of the grain elevator; most of which are already equipped with sensors that can scan data on the shipments directly to the app. There are hundreds of grain elevators in the region spanning from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, Schott said.
Minn-Kota Ag Products is one of their first customers. They are currently testing out the app and plan to roll it out as an optional tool to their clients, nearly 500 farmers in the next few weeks, according to Minn-Kota grain and logistics manager George Schuler.
Schuler, who has worked at Minn-Kota for four years, has seen the trials of using paper slips for tracking. They’re often misplaced, and all the phone calls take up time that a farmer could be using for other things.
“This puts it [the data] right on an app so that he [the farmer] can be focusing on business,” he said. “It gives him instantaneous information without actually physically having a ticket in his hand.”
Using technology like the mAgri app is also paving the way for a younger and more tech-savvy generation of farmers to take the reigns, Schuler said.
“You’ve got a lot of younger people coming back to operate the farm off their smartphone,” he said.
With the older generations in the agriculture industry, Schuler sees a gradual acceptance of new technology. As they plan to roll out the mAgri app, he is confident that once their farmers try it, the benefits will be obvious.
“A lot of these guys have an iPhone or Android,” he said. “It all comes down to convenience and accuracy.”
Schott said the app will be offered for an annual rate of around $10,000, with a one time integration fee. In addition to Minn-Kota, they have one other customer, Arthur Companies, preparing to implement the app in time for harvest season.
This, Schott said, is the first non-client based product developed by Myriad Mobile, a mobile app development company based in Fargo. In the future they hope to continue expanding the features of the app to include beacon technology, allowing elevators to automatically know when a truck has arrived, and the ability to sign contracts through the app as well.
“We see the need and see the market,” Schott said. “We’re excited to send our baby into the wild.”
Photos courtesy of Myriad Mobile and Emerging Prairie.