Granular Insight’s mission: use technology to help farmers run stronger businesses and steward the land for generations to come.
Ben Gordon with Granular Insights joins host Tony Kramer to discuss how Granular – a farm management software provider – helps those in the ag industry marry the financial and the agronomic.
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Read the episode’s complete transcript here
Tony Kramer: Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 122 and today we are going to be talking about Granular Insights.
I'm very excited to welcome Ben Gordon, who is the director of business development with Granular.
Thanks for joining us on the show today, Ben, to get started. I'd really like to hear a little bit more about you and your background and how you got involved in the industry.
Ben Gordon: Thanks, Tony. I'm Ben Gordon, I've been with Granular for about two years. I actually grew up just North of here, in Hillsborough, North Dakota. My dad worked for Deere and Fargo, so I've been around farming most of my life. I have family farms, a lot of friends and after leaving North Dakota for university and spent some time in the military and then doing some other jobs, startups management consulting, I just got really excited about the idea of solving some tough problems, that impact people that I care about. hen Granular came knocking, it was a pretty easy decision to try to work with a company that focuses on farmers and farmer profitability.
Tony: Like you said, you grew up in North Dakota, you got some agriculture background and whatnot, so there are many different ways to be involved in the Ag industry. One of the ways is the path that you took, the software or the solutions providers out there. It's really neat to hear how people get involved in the industry and where they come from. I want to dive into it Ben. Granular, who or what is Granular?
Ben: Granular is a team of folks that are building software that helps farmers marry the financial and the agronomic. We're part of Corteva, with the digital arm of Corteva and our mission is to help farmers run stronger business and steward the land for generations to come. We do that through software and software is directly for farmers and for the team that serves farmers, whether that's you're RDO Equipment specialist, an input provider or another solution provider,
Tony: When did Granular start and what geographical area do you guys cover?
Ben: Granular started in about 2013 and grew up from a previous company, Solum, that then evolved into Granular and then was purchased about two and a half years ago by Corteva to primarily serve commodity, raw crop agriculture. Corn and soy is really our focus, as you'd guess, just from the types of farms that benefit most from software and managing large operations.
Tony: Granular offers, essentially two different packages or two different types of software. One of them, of course, we're going to focus on is Granular Insights, but you also offer another platform as well, right?
Ben: Yes, sir. We have Granular Insights, which is the free tool that we're going to talk about. We actually have three other bundles of software. We have Granular Business, which is a little bit more of a robust piece of software, an operating system to help a farm. We have Granular Agronomy that helps farmers with nitrogen management fertility that serves through our CSA business. Then we have a product called Acre Value that you can think of as the zillow of farmland to identify farmland value and other data behind them.
Tony: Let's dive into Granular Insights. You had mentioned, this is a free service that you're offering to solve problems and provide solutions to farmers. Talk to our listeners a little bit about what is Granular Insights and how it's going to benefit a farm.
Ben: You said, it's a free tool and it's really one that's focused on marrying agronomic information and the data that farmers are usually already collecting, with that financial information because, at the end of the day, understanding profitability really matters to farmers, especially in today's farming environment, but it's really hard to bring all of that data together. USDA estimates that cash incomes are going to decline 10% this year. We know there's a lot of uncertainty out there. Even despite that, a lot of farmers don't know which fields, which areas of the field or which management practices are making or losing them money. That understanding can be the difference between being in the black, versus being in the red. That's the fundamental problem that Granular Insights is trying to solve.
It's the only farm management software that, at least, I've seen that completely marries that agronomic field operations data, like field analyzer from the operation center or in a lot of other programs with the dollars and cents, so that you can focus on profitability, not just yield.
Tony: You talk about adding the profitability or adding the cost of what's going on to the farm to get that bigger picture. How are you doing that? Now we obviously have our as-applied maps, whether it's planting. We have our spring and our application stuff, we have our harvest maps. Are you guys able to take that stuff and then build off of that or how are we building this profit information?
Ben: That's a good question. The foundation of it is everything you just talked about, your as-planted, your as-applied, and your harvest maps, that really show what happen on the field. We'll automatically take your harvest and your as-planted data and then we'll combine that with budgets from local-like extension, [unintelligible 00:06:38] and your neck in the woods or Iowa state, and some of our other smart defaults that we have. We'll immediately give you that estimate of profitability, and then you can go in and you can tinker with those costs because every operation is different to tweak and hone field by field or across your operation, to understand what your costs are.
When I think about Granular Insights, I really think about this as an introductory experience to help you lean in the right direction around profitability because there are different levels of detail that you can get to on your costs. This is a really a simple, quick, easy way to start that you can then expand from,
Tony: I think you really keyed on it there about the cost and utilizing the local university averages for input costs and whatnot, but like you said, you can go in and you can actually adjust or edit those financial numbers based on what you specifically paid on your farm for those inputs. It's really cool to be able to dial in and make it more specific to your farm and your costs. With the ability to do that, you can break this stuff down, you can get the year over year and the profit and all of that.
Is there any other maps and or information that we're able to generate in Granular Insights other than those profit maps or profit summaries?
Ben: We'll show you your seed costs, we'll put yield into revenue terms, and then you'll get that profit map there throughout the application, whether it's sorting your fields or even soil pipe, we can pivot all of those things by the financial, the profitability metrics out there. Even down to things like planting date, how did that impact your revenue. The whole app is designed for that financial lens, because folks are already doing a lot of economic analysis. We don't want to reinvent the wheel. We want to do something that can provide additional value to a farmer.
Tony: Absolutely and it sounds like you guys are offering a lot of different insights to give to these farms, as far as the map layers, you can look at the information, the reporting. Is this program, is it local computer, is it web-based, is it mobile app? How does Granular Insights operate?
Ben: It's web-based and a mobile app, both of those. When we think about Granular Insights, it's not just about Granular, we've purpose-built it to be on top of the operation center as well. We'll actually send our map layers back to the operation center. Whether that's in field analyzer, connect mobile, if you're out in the cab, my operations on your phone, we'll send those financial layers back, if the farmer wants those to be sent back. We really want to think about, again, building on top of what farmers are already doing, not just adding another tool for another tool's sake, but really add that extra value for a farmer without adding a ton of extra work.
Tony: That was actually a question I was going to ask is how this data flows. You had talked about a connection to the operation center. How does that all work? How does a customer, if they they're interested in Granular Insights, what do they need to do and how is that data going to flow back and forth?
Ben: Tony, I'm going to pretend that your test account isn't set up on Granular Insights yet. What I'd tell you is go into the operation center, you're going to find a Granular Insights logo on that left hand side in the tool section, you can click on that. It's going to be a really quick and simple signup process, a few clicks. You're going to immediately go in, connect to the operation center. Again, it's going to be a matter of clicks and minutes, not hours. You're going to wait a little bit of time for that data to download and right away, you're going to have that first estimate where we combine that data you have in the operation center, with those smart defaults from university budgets to get you that estimate of profitability.
Unlike a lot of other systems where you have to spend hours slogging on the setup, we're going to take what you have and you're going to start to get insights, pardon the terrible pun, in terms of which fields are more profitable or which areas of the field are more profitable right away. Then you can again see that back in the operation center if those are the applications that you're already using, whether on your phone or in the cab.
Tony: That's something I can speak to from experience exactly what you explained there, Ben, it really is that simple. Going in, creating that Insights account, connecting your operation center. I did not have to upload any data into Granular Insights because Granular Insights just pulled it from the operation center after I made that connection. Very quick, very simple, very user friendly when it comes to creating this and starting to collect that information or starting to see those profit maps or those seed costs or like you were talking, planting date, looking at revenue from a planting date standpoint. Very simple, very easy.
Ben, you guys have something that just released here in the month of July, some special or added features. Do you want to tell our listeners a little bit about that?
Ben: What we're releasing is the feature set that we just talked about. It's the ability to quickly see the full farm profitability field by field. Within the field, before we were really focusing on seed costs and return on seed because we're in planting season. We're continuing to iterate really quickly and expand our functionality. This product's only been out in the market for five-sh months. We have over 12,000 farms who are on the product today. Thousands of those are using John Deere. We're really excited to see where this can go from here, because again, especially in this economic environment for farmers, we're making a big bet that by helping them out with this profitability journey and understanding their numbers, that much better, that we can be part of their farm team and we can be a tool that they'll use.
Eventually, in full transparency, we want to charge for software in the long run, but we think it's our duty and obligation to take that first step forward to initiate with the farmer.
Tony: Like you said, Granular Insights completely free, giving you that level of visibility when it comes to revenue. You had talked about the partnering with the farmers and working through these economic times. I actually just saw an email come through this morning from Granular, and maybe you want to touch on it, Ben, but there are programs out there for Granular Insight users and John Deere farms to utilize JDlink Connect. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Ben: Yes, I would love to, it's something we're really excited about. Again, especially in these times, people don't want to have to pay for that additional cost, but we truly believe in the value of what JDlink and wireless data transfer from John Deere can provide. What we're doing is if you are a Granular Insights customer that is connected to the John Deere operation center, we'll pay for up to five JDlink vouchers, as long as you have less than two years of subscription and a one MTG out there, to help power that software. Again, this is part of that big bet. We're going to put our first step forward, try to earn the right to get on your farm, so that you can hopefully improve your business. We think that we're going to continue to improve our products that you want to work with Granular for a long time.
To use this program, go to your John Deere dealer, go to your Pioneer Seed rep, they'll hook you up. You just got to sign up for Granular Insights, make sure you're connected to the John Deere operation center, request that voucher from your dealer or your Pioneer rep, and you should be good to go.
Tony: That's just another great reason to get in and utilize the free product of Granular Insights that you get the opportunity to light up your machines with JDlink Connect and get those streaming data wirelessly into the operations center and collecting that information within Granular as well. Another great reason to utilize this product. Ben, do you have any success story that you'd like to share with us that just puts a smile on your face when you think about Granular Insights?
Ben: Well, it's actually a story that punches me in the gut a little bit. We tested this product with over 75 farmers, we had dear folks, beside customer testing the whole time and we were talking to a farmer in Missouri who is a really smart guy and a great farmer. He was really proud when we were looking through the operation center at this nice uniform green yield map. We flipped over to the profitability view and that view wasn't so great. He said, "This felt like when I switched from farming without a yield monitor to a yield monitor." My gut is right most of the time, but it certainly wasn't right here and he went and double checked the numbers and we were right.
This year I'm really excited because he's changing a couple of management practices and I truly believe that he's going to make some more money this year. I think it was it's that journey of you have to go through a little bit of pain to understand where you might not be making money. That way your farm can be more sustainable going forward for you, for the next generation you want to pass on to. We're really excited about the ability to be part of that journey because we know it's a tough one and it's really important right now.
Tony: Absolutely. I think that really brings the reality to what goes on in the Ag industry. As we see one set of numbers and things can be very good, but you see the other set of numbers and it might not look the same. Being able to use Granular Insights and get that level of information that that grower in Missouri, it opened his eyes. He saw that beautiful yield map, but when he puts his input costs and everything like that into it, the revenue may not be as great. Very cool tool, awesome features and functionality with Granular Insights. I would encourage anybody to get out there and create an account and try it, just see what it's like.
If somebody does want to do that, Ben, where can they go? Who can they talk to to learn more about Granular Insights?
Ben: You can click on that Granular logo right in the operation center, or you can go to granular.ag/insights-john-deere. We know that this year is really important to make the leap and dial in your operation. We hope we can be part of that journey and use what you have on the operation center. We're willing to put out, fork over some dollars on connectivity to give us a try. I would be really, really excited to see more folks be able to use this. Any feedback that they have, please include my email in the show notes and we're always open to learn.
Tony: I just want to thank you Ben, for taking the time to sit down and talk a little bit about Granular Insights and how a farmer can benefit from utilizing a program like this, and that connectivity to the John Deere operations center. Thanks again for doing this.
Ben: Thanks for having me, Tony. Hopefully my friends back home don't give me too hard of a time.