Farmers across 100,000 acres are letting data tell them what seed to plant and where. Based on initial testing, Climate Corporation is introducing Seed Advisor in a pre-commercial launch for about 200 farmers and 50 dealers in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.
In a nutshell, the tool tells a farmer’s seed dealer the best hybrids for each field on the farm and ranks options in case farmers don’t like the first-place option. The tool also provides information about planting populations and those recommendations can be a static number or variable rate, depending on a farmer’s equipment.
The Seed Advisor model has been validated against real-world seed performance data on more than 4 million acres and has a 77%-win rate that brings a 6 plus bu. per acre gain, says Tonya Ehlmann, placement science lead for the company.
Seed Advisor builds on Bayer’s current R&D platform to identify what hybrids perform well under specific conditions. Climate uses a three-pronged approach, coined “build, validate and test,” to convert that information into seed placement options catered to each farm.
First, the company leverages data science to build and train models, Ehlmann says. From there, the team validates those models against real-world agronomic and performance information, and that is finally confirmed in field testing.
“Our access to Bayer’s R&D [genetics] helps us build models to know how hybrids will perform,” Ehlmann says. Each hybrid has a minimum of three years of testing before its commercial launch, and that testing informs the Seed Advisor about even the newest hybrids’ optimum conditions.
“Currently Seed Advisor is the Bayer seed brands—that was the first step for us, it just made sense,” says Chad Bilby, global launch lead. “There is opportunity we’re exploring to go beyond that.”
Data is streaming in near real-time. Farmers who use Seed Advisor in 2019 will have data from the 2018 season, which will begin streaming with harvest results.
As the company looks past 2019, Bilby says they’d like to add more data layers, harvest moisture information, planting window optimization, connectivity with inventory and ordering information and expand into other brands, crops and geographies.