Seed World

Does Your Pizza Order Result in More Information than Your Seed Supply Order?

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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I have to confess … my wife and I order pizza online from Domino’s more than the average household. In doing this, we use the pizza tracker to know when our order has been put into the oven and exactly when it leaves the store for our house. This way, we can relax for as long as possible and still be ready at the door the second the pizza arrives. Efficiency at its finest!
In doing this a few years ago, it struck me that there was a higher level of transparency in ordering a $20 pizza for delivery than almost all companies have of their seed production supply, which is a company’s lifeline.
This inspired me to fundamentally change the way we communicate seed production information. In 2012, we launched our proprietary app MySupply LIVE. Rather than collect field reports, production activities and weather data on paper or disconnected tracking programs, we built a comprehensive system in which every single field activity and data point is collected via an iPhone and viewable on an iPad in real-time, right from the field. This puts the data collected by our field scouts, growers, contractors and employees directly into the hands that need it most.
Throughout this process, we’ve found that access to real-time data allows for better and more timely decision-making. For example, we use historical GDU accumulation to project multiple activity dates for seed corn. By seeing how the crop is progressing, either faster or slower than average, users can look at the weather forecast for pollination. Furthermore, during pollination, users can see the silking and shedding percentages each day, giving them a better idea of yield potential in July. When we conduct yield estimates, we share ear count, kernel rows and length in addition to yield. Also included are photos of the ears we analyzed, so our clients see exactly what they are getting a month or more before harvest.
With all the advances in communication technology and precision agriculture, it’s alarming that so many companies are collecting and reporting their seed production status the same way they did decades ago. The data each field comprises is too important to rely just on paper notes or someone visiting the field a couple times to check and “make sure things are OK.” Your seed is too important to not know what is happening on a day-to-day basis.