Nutrien Ag Solutions continues to build out its digital agriculture portfolio with the recent acquisition of Agbridge, a hardware company focused on wireless data-sharing.
The acquisition helps serve Nutrien Ag Solutions’ goal of making “hard things easier,” says Sol Goldfarb, head of digital at Nutrien Ag Solutions, who notes this is the first hardware acquisition during his tenure at the company focused on digital agronomy.
The Agbridge technology will be used on Nutrien Ag Solutions application equipment. One unique aspect of its product is that data can be transferred via Wi-Fi or cellular connections, and if a connection isn’t present, the data is stored until a connection is available to complete the transfer.
“We were looking for a solution for our own application fleet which includes equipment from many companies. The Agbridge technology works on a variety of farm equipment brands, which is important, and having it for our branches the Agbridge devices installed on equipment across our application fleet will allow for consistency in training and troubleshooting,” Goldfarb says.
The acquisition will also streamline how Nutrien Ag Solutions crop advisers receive and send data. “It’s up to folks like us to make data usable for the grower,” he says. “We have to be equipped to help growers keep track of all the activity on their farm with high fidelity and be able to take data and turn it into actionable insights.”
Digital agriculture has been a focus at Nutrien, particularly in the past three years after CEO Chuck Magro announced the company would spend $100 million every year on development.
This year, the company says digital sales of products account for 10% of total sales, but for the products available for purchase online, digital sales are 40%.
Goldfarb says acquisitions have been and will continue to be part of the company’s growth with digital agriculture. But he also says the company is looking at organically developed digital solutions they can deliver to the retail network and customers.
“On the employee side, our growth with online portal use is explosive because our employees find growing benefit with the digital tools we’re building for them. For example, in our crop planning tool we launched this year, crop advisers can make a field recommendation for a fungicide and then quickly duplicate that recommendation across multiple fields,” he says.
He notes digital development at Nutrien Ag Solutions is rooted in user-center design. For example, while customers found online bill pay at the online portal helpful, they provided feedback that led the digital team to add a new scheduled bill pay feature earlier this year.
“As we’ve seen more engagement with product purchasing and bill payment on the digital portal, we’ve also seen more use of the weather information and market information we provide,” he adds. “So, it really is a tide that rises all boats.”