AGMONITOR: Data is Great, but Answers Are What Really Matter

By Ann Donahue N umbers on a spreadsheet are just that— numbers. Devoid of its bigger context, collecting data can seem like a mind-numbing process without end, aggregating points of information that never develop into a plan of action. This is where artificial intelligence can help integrate domain expertise to mine the data for you—and get you the answer that you are looking for or at least a simple report to make a decision. San Mateo, Calif. and Fresno-based AgMonitor exists to aid farmers in seeing that big picture to help manage their farms, and to help provide the answer as to what data truly matters to their operations. This, in turn, can have real-world results in crop efficiency improvement and the bottom line. AgMonitor—formerly known as PowWow Energy—offers three different products to farmers. PumpMonitor allows farmers to manage water usage across pumps and field; RanchMonitor tracks energy costs across solar generators, buildings and pumps; and CropMonitor targets crop revenue, by tracking both yield increase and quality. Since its founding in 2013, AgMonitor’s results have been impressive, according to Founder and CEO Olivier Jerphagnon. Users of PumpMonitor reduce the implementation cost of water monitoring by 50-80 percent. One example is Terranova Ranch led by Don Cameron. He was able to leverage SmartMeter and the existing pump test program run by Fresno State to get water records for SGMA. Terranova only had to put new telemetry systems where needed, such as the lift pumps used for the groundwater recharge program. He can also track the groundwater table depth on the same platform. Cameron also tried RanchMonitor to optimize his two 1-megawatt solar projects. Over the last 5 years, it helped increase the ROI on his solar investments by 42 percent. The result was part of a recent study on 10 farms that used AgMonitor. It was shared during a recent workshop with PG&E, which promotes the platform for its food processing and agriculture segment. Terranova Ranch connected with other farms via AgMonitor. After talking to Bowles Farming, who also use the AgMonitor platform, they decided to do the cleaning of the solar panels themselves. Cameron’s staff receives a text alert from AgMonitor when the dust on the panels causes a loss in energy generation that is higher than the cost of cleaning.

Cameron and his controller also sat down with AgMonitor and his PG&E representative to optimize the change from legacy rates to new utility rates. Peak hours have recently switched from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. to 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. All the changes added up to large savings that improve the cash flow of the farming operation. On average RanchMonitor enables farms to save $3 for every $1 spent. AgMonitor is a member of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology in Salinas, Calif., and has several in-the-field connections with the Western Growers community: American Farms, P-R Farms, and Woolf Farming, among others, used the company’s technology. The platform currently operates on more than 150,000 acres and on many different crops studied in collaboration with UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara. CropMonitor is a more recent product deployed over 25,000 acres. It was developed with 12 farms under a 5-year project funded by the California Energy Commission to provide a scalable irrigation scheduling and reporting platform that



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