Much of what makes a successful growing season is managing the diversity within the environments we grow our crops. Even the most uniform fields have varying levels of nutrients, water holding capacity, and microbial diversity just to name a few. Prescriptive agriculture has come a long way in helping us better manage our fields, but knowing what the best products are for each specific environment can still be a challenge. Arva Intelligence, a data analytics platform, strives to help growers make the best match using artificial intelligence.
“Arva started in 2019, with two clients. And we set out to optimize fertility and genetics by environment,” shared Matt Rohlik, director of sales and strategic partnerships with Arva Intelligence. “So, think about fertilizer and hybrid recipes at a field level, and at scalable. One of the two hardest things in farming is understanding what fertilizers, and where they work, and how you should place them. And then what hybrids you should put where and where to place them. So, that was really where we kicked off with.”
Arva’s unique approach begins with looking at micro climates. These reflect the different rainfall patterns and GDDs (growing degree days) that accumulate throughout the growing season. Then, within those micro climates, they created a biochemistry approach to soil.
“We have a way of clustering those soils together, which allows us to put scalable prediction models out for fertility and genetics. So, writing prescriptions at scale, produces efficiency,” shared Matt.
Placing the right hybrid on the right acre is something many farmers and companies have been trying to solve for years. Arva has a network of public data that is aggregated in a simple seed selection tool. They also have a more advanced network of local data, protected by “close data privacy laws” that growers can opt into for more specific recommendations. Although logistics and supply of hybrids can force you to change a plan, as growers we can build better initial plans and understand why certain products will be a better fit than others.
“It's funny, in a lot of precision ag we look at ROI and, when I put my farmer hat on, one of the fastest ROIs is putting hybrids in the right fields,” commented Matt. “Let's just not take today's markets of $6 corn and $14 beans at the close today. But let's say corn is $4; 10 bushels better by just changing a hybrid. I never adjusted my fertilizers. I never did anything like that. All I did is just change my hybrid, and I'm $40 more net profit in my pocket, which for a lot of years here has been, sometimes that's all the profit you get. So it's important, you know?
One exciting piece that Arva is looking into is biologicals. Biological products have shown yield advantages in some fields and no advantages in others due to the diversity in the soil’s microbial activity. Understanding and managing that variability may lead to higher ROIs on biological products.
“Understanding how and the why behind what's actually happening is very important. So, as we get higher abilities to leverage technologies that'll split apply, kind of like multi hybrid corn planters, and soybean planters today,” started Matt. “Think about that with multi-biological products being injected in and being placed in the field appropriately.”
Matt joined us on the Precision Points Podcast on April 7 and he discussed the seed and fertilizer placement tools covered in this article. He also addresses Arva’s unique approach to carbon market opportunities. Be sure to tune in to learn more!