MyFarmWeb™: The future of cloud-based farming data

Chantal Forssman

By Erald Smith, Head: Geomatics and IT from
Agri Technovation and Wynand Malan: Managing
Executive: Agriculture from Mezzanine (Vodacom)

According to the BBC, approximately 90% of all the data in the world today has been created in the past few years.

If you combine the total of data held by the four big online companies – Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon – estimations are around 1,2 million terabytes (TB). To put that in context, one terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes (GB) of data.

Those numbers are staggering, as is the amount of information reaching producers across the globe. Consequently, processing large amounts of data in a user-friendly way has become imperative for successful farming.

Fortunately, in mid-2018, Agri Technovation and Mezzanine, a Vodacom subsidiary that develops digital and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for Africa, formed a partnership regarding the MyFarmWeb™ platform.

A cutting-edge partnership

The MyFarmWeb™ platform is at the forefront of digital precision agricultural platforms, allowing users to easily incorporate precision-based farming into their day-to-day practices.

The primary goal of precision agriculture is to strive for profitability, efficiency and sustainability on the farm – factors that any producer wishes to improve. By improving their overall efficiency, producers spend less late nights trying to sift through the data and can make decisions faster.

As an added bonus, a complementary support tool, the MyFarmApp™, was also launched, providing producers with a mobile solution that is easy to use in the field. The main goal of this partnership was to place these invaluable tools in the hands of large and small producers in South Africa, the rest of Africa and more recently, in the USA and Australasia.

The partnership seems to have paid off, as MyFarmWeb™ is currently utilised on about 3 800 farms, compared to 2 700 farms in June of 2018.

The current state of data

The reason for this growth is that MyFarm-Web™ serves as an information platform for precision-based farming that allows for the transformation of raw data into information, which can be used to formulate profitable plans of action. In essence, the system gives farmers insights into which farming operations are more sustainable and profitable.

In terms of being user-friendly, MyFarmWeb™ is a complex system that is packaged in a simplistic design and easy-to-use interface. The platform allows you to quickly pinpoint, drill down, compare, calculate and analyse data. Features include profitability configuration expansion and aerial maps, but after implementing updates, the platform now also offers the following innovative services:

  • ITEST Water™ is used as a point-data source of where water samples were taken: The water lab analysis results are displayed on MyFarmWeb™, giving you an indication of the water quality on your farm.
  • My Profitability™ configuration expansion: This feature on MyFarmWeb™ allows you to more accurately account for expenses during a season by classifying the yield maps and giving you a more accurate estimate of your harvest profitability.
  • ITEST Leaf™ on the drill-down tool:
    ITEST Leaf™ analysis results are also included in the drill-down tool. The tool will automatically select the leaf analysis closest to the point of interest selected, ensuring that users can view their soil classification, soil chemical composition and leaf analysis data in unison.
  • Aerial maps: MyFarmWeb™ has added aerial maps to the platform that offers you an alternative background layer on which to view your data, as opposed to just Google- and Bing maps.
  • Division tool enhancements: MyFarmWeb™ will improve the division tool by adding additional features. When subdividing a block, you can now see the actual represented area of each of the subdivisions. You can also drag the boundary lines of the division until it meets the required shape of your actual division on the ground. Once you have completed your harvest and want to reset the block to its original size and boundaries, you can merge the sub-blocks back to its original dimensions.
  • Comparative drill-down tool: MyFarmWeb™ will release enhancements on the comparative drill down tool. In the past users could only select and view one point’s soil classification and chemical composition. Now users can select multiple points and compare them. For instance, producers can now compareareas of good yield versus areas of bad yield and determine what the underlying causes are leading to greater corrective action decision making.

A look towards tomorrow

Agri Technovation and Vodacom are always looking for new and improved ways to enhance the user’s experience of the platform and add value to the customer’s decision-making process. The newest version of the MyFarmWeb™ platform has the following exciting features:

  • Smart Layer Yield Map: A new feature hereby once a harvest has been marked as finished on the smart layer, a new map will be created showing the crop cultivar and yield.
  • Dam Levels: MyFarmWeb™ will now have a feature where you can monitor a customised selection of provincial dam levels. Users will have the ability to select dams that are of interest to them and monitor their levels throughout the year.
  • Coverage Maps: MyFarmWeb™ will add cellular coverage maps so users can see what the coverage on their farm is. This is especially useful before deciding to acquire data transmitting devices used for monitoring irrigation and similar IoT applications.
  • Fruit Growth and Quality Indicators: The platform will release a system whereby fruit growth sizes and curves will be displayed on MyFarmWeb™. Brix indexes and fruit industry quality standards will be captured and displayed in the form of graphs.
  • Activity Tracker: MyFarmWeb™ will soon release a comprehensive farmer activity tracking tool that will enable the user to plan, manage and report on farming activities. These activities will include, but not be limited to spraying,fertilising, planting, field work and harvesting.
  • Biophysical Parameters: MyFarmWeb™ will soon fully integrate with the revolutionary AIRBUS VERDE remote sensing and processing solution. Biophysical Parameters include a new range of crop specific indices like LAI (Leaf Area Index, number of square meters of green leaves present in one square meter of
    ground), fCover (% of surface of the ground covered by the crop, seen from above) and CHL (Content of chlorophyll A and B per unit area of leaves), giving the farmer much more precision data compared to the traditional NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) indices available today. With its extensive archive of images obtained from numerous satellites within the AIRBUS portfolio both in-season and off-season monitoring would also be possible. Combining this information with the insights of your Agri Technovation Agronomist or Horticulturist gives the farmer increased capability to make informed farming decisions.

Set up for success

With a platform such as MyFarmWeb™, electronic data that was normally available in various formats and scattered in various cabinets, files and desktop folders, producers can now easily access crucial information via one single platform. Data is permanently and securely stored in the cloud, which provides enough storage, speed, and computing power to analyse the collected data and package it in a format that is useful to producers.

By also connecting different data regions from different sources, including precision agricultural sensors, end-user-generated data and other data, this platform is so much more than an effective information tool – it converts data into practical, actionable plans that can form the blueprints for any successful agricultural operation.

For more information, contact an Agri Technovation agronomist or the head office at +27 21 300 0543; alternatively, visit the website at www.agritechnovation.co.za