Date: Sep 11, 2019
Magazine:
September/October 2019

When Colin Brown stepped off the plane into the soothing overcast haze that blanketed Monterey County’s farm fields, he knew this is where his agtech company, TracMap, had to be. TracMap originally launched in New Zealand in 2005, and after 10 years of success in offering growers a system that ensured the right fields, blocks and rows were being harvested, cultivated, irrigated, fertilized and sprayed, the company expanded to Australia and now to the Western United States.

“For a medium-sized company coming out of New Zealand, the U.S. provided a huge market and opportunity for us,” said Brown, who is the founding director of TracMap. “The TracMap system was originally designed to meet the needs of pastoral farming in New Zealand, but over the last decade our technology has evolved. We’ve added cutting-edge functionality that better helps tractor drivers navigate in orchards, grape vines and berry fields.”

TracMap is an in-cab GPS guidance and job management system that allows drivers to spray needed crop protection products up and down rows with no mistakes. It prevents incidences such as unknowingly running out of pesticides and missing a block or missing a row completely when spraying at night.

“We are all human and humans make mistakes, including tractor drivers,” said Brown. “But the consequence with accidentally missing a row or area that needed to be sprayed is that you don’t get 100 percent disease control on your crop.”

Additionally, the system eliminates the clutter of paperwork, as all data and information is accessible online and stored in the cloud—software/services that run on the Internet instead of on your computer. Having a cloud-based system also allows owners to have better visibility and more control of their operation.

The TracMap system allows farmers to:

•   Create and Send Job Maps: With TracMap Online, farm managers can draw maps of the areas in need of maintenance, mark out hazards and assign job details (chemical, rate etc.). They can then wirelessly send all the information to their drivers from a desktop or mobile device to ensure that the drivers are in the right place, doing the right job.

•   Guide Drivers Using GPS: TracMap’s in-cab GPS display units accurately guide tractor drivers to the right field, orchard or specific row, with all the information they need to do the job correctly. The units show them where the hazards are on the way.

•   Easily Collect and Analyze Data: The TracMap in-cab display GPS units collect and send field operations data back to TracMap Online, where owners can access the platform on their desktop computer or mobile device to  view job completion data.

“We have a system that’s a bit different than what’s available from traditional GPS providers,” said Colin. “Those systems are primarily designed for people doing broad-acre farming—like grains and oilseeds. The functionality does not work well for what is needed by people growing lettuces and berries. That’s where we come in.”

In the U.S., TracMap is currently working with farmers operating in California, Oregon and Washington. Its core focus is grapes and tree nuts but the company is now enhancing the product to serve cherries, apples, strawberries and blackberries. However, the operation still has a significant market share in New Zealand; more than 80 percent of all fertilizer or spray applied in the country is with a TracMap GPS system. In fact, TracMap was the first company in New Zealand to develop a product that allowed farmers to effectively spray and apply chemical fertilizer in uneven terrain. Prior to TracMap, all technologies marketed only allowed farmers to maintain their land if the product was being applied in straight lines.

The agtech company has rapidly expanded since first settling in the Golden State in 2017. Brown solely represented TracMap’s presence in America back then, while today, the U.S. team consists of 10 people.

“The Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology was an excellent base of operations to start with,” said Brown. “We were able to have a physical presence here in the states at a very minimal cost. Plus, the location was central to farmers.”

The company’s U.S. presence has become so large that it has “outgrown” the Center. TracMap recently moved its operation to another building in downtown Salinas that could accommodate the expanding team, but still keeps its residency at the Center.

“We can’t beat the access that the Western Growers’ Center provides us to meet potential clients. Between Grower Days and AgTechx, the opportunities to connect with growers is invaluable,” remarked Brown.

Through the unique events offered exclusively to agtech companies by the Center, TracMap has beefed up its portfolio of clients to include ag giants and Western Growers members such as Church Brothers, Andrew & Williamson, The DiMare Company, Pappas Produce, and Capay Organic. Utilizing the resources of the Center as well as its home base in New Zealand, TracMap plans to continue to improve its technology to make it simpler to use but more robust with added functionality that further improves productivity on the farm, resulting in significant gains in crop yield.

For more information on TracMap, contact Colin Brown at colin.brown@tracmap.com or (831) 287-4338.

 

WG Staff Contact

Stephanie Metzinger
Manager, Communications
949-885-2256

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