Last year, FieldIn saved specialty crop growers millions of dollars in pest management by monitoring spray applications and providing alerts, in real time, on more than 6,000 application errors. More impressively, this agtech start-up company has only been up and running for three years and it already monitors almost five percent of the almond crops in California.
FieldIn, one of the newest startups in the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, offers specialty crop growers a data software service that provides automated traceability on pest management trends, patterns, usage and efficacy. The solution includes system dashboards and an innovative sensor that is installed on tractors to track spraying in real time. It was built by growers—for growers.
Data from more than 50,000 spray applications in 2017 revealed that one in four spray applications, on average, are not executed as planned. This is due to incidents such as speeding, missing rows and double spraying. These mistakes expose growers to costly risks, even if they planned their pest management correctly.
FieldIn’s suite of products allow farmers to benchmark and optimize performance and eliminate spray mistakes, improving the quality and safety of chemical applications. Detailed insights are combined and presented through system dashboards to support optimal pest management decision making.
Boaz Bachar, co-founder and CEO of FieldIn, exited his trade in business law in 2013 after marrying into a family of avocado growers and realizing that there was a significant gap between entrepreneurs, technologists and growers.
“Back then, when I was working at a law firm, some of the biggest growers in Israel started investing in technology and purchased enormous amounts of irrigation sensors,” said Bachar. “I started seeing a trend. Growers were buying the sensors, but did not understand how to turn the data into action. There was a gap.”
Bachar decided he wanted to close that gap and create a solution that would help farmers translate data into action and ultimately improve field operations. “Growers couldn’t actualize the data because there were no action items. At that exact moment, I quit my job at the law firm and started FieldIn with one of my closest friends.”
His friend—and now FieldIn’s co-founder and COO—Iftach Birger, was born and raised on a three-generation farm on the eastern foothills of Mount Tabor, Israel. Versed in growing olives, almonds and wine grapes, Birger understood the real-world challenges that growers faced. His strong connection to the land and knowledge of agriculture has helped FieldIn deliver a solution tailor-made for growers—one that meets all of their pest management needs.
“Iftach has been a farmer since he was five years old, and we’ve taken that ‘by growers for growers’ model to be the foundation of our company,” said Bachar. The startup now employs nearly 20 engineers, agronomists and business development experts—all with a background in agriculture and a love for farming.
FieldIn offers software products and sensors that automatically record field data. These tools focus on four aspects to help growers and stakeholders manage and improve the pest control cycle:
• Application: Growers and sprayers can track spray operations and respond to work inefficiencies in real time. This includes equipment tracking, real-time alerts on spray mistakes and spray application quality scores.
• Intelligence: Field managers and executives receive performance reports that summarize activity trends and patterns to reveal the bigger picture on pest management.
• Decision: Pest control advisers are provided a complete situational view of pest population hotspots, spray instructions with status tracking, application history analysis and pre-harvest and re-entry intervals, among other important tools.
• Monitoring: Field scouts can record and organize notes on pest levels and trap status using a mobile app that is synced to the cloud and automatically funneled to fellow teammates.
FieldIn prides itself on developing each of its software tools from the bottom up. “We listen to growers and their day-to-day challenges,” said Bachar. “As part of our consultation process, we help build a plan for each and every grower. In less than 24 hours after our initial meeting with a grower, we offer them a zero-error strategy plan, utilizing our technology.”
Bachar and Birger are continually enhancing their current business intelligence tools and are now looking to help growers in the United States solve spray problems faster, better measure efficiency and connect their team more effectively.
EXPANDING TO CALIFORNIA
With considerable experience working with growers of different sizes and scale across Israel and Italy, FieldIn’s entry to the California market has so far been a sweeping success. FieldIn now supports almost five percent of the almond market in the state, 20 percent of the pistachio market and 25 percent of the pomegranate market.
The company currently monitors more than 5,000 fields, touting a customer base of some of the most prominent growers in the region such as Don Cameron of Terranova Ranch and Brian Palla of Palla Farms. They are also working with farm management companies including AgriCare and Pegasus Orchards, spray contractors like S&S Sprayers and SprayCo, and agricultural machinery companies such as John Deere.
FieldIn recently joined the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology in Salinas, California, to expand its reach and bring its products to more specialty crop growers in the United States.
“Through the Western Growers Center, we saw an opportunity to start working more with growers in California because, in the end, growers in Israel and California typically act and look the same,” said Bachar. “Agriculture is an international language.”
FieldIn expects to bring the service to other regions outside the state in the upcoming 2018 season. To learn more about FieldIn and its suite of products, please visit https://fieldintech.com.