Farm Weekly

Empowering farmers: Business network delivering insights and lower costs

Empowering farmers: Business network delivering insights and lower costs

This is advertiser content for Farmers Business Network.

Farmers are the ultimate entrepreneurs. You are on your own, managing a complex business and in turn doing business with companies that are vastly larger and have more information and power than your individual operation.

On a mission to hand more power back to farmers, helping to make their jobs easier and their businesses more profitable, is the Farmers Business Network (FBN), the global farmer-driven digital tech platform that's attracting more and more members in Australia.

"FBN is here to level the playing field by connecting farmers with thousands of other farm enterprises, using advanced information and doing business in a fundamentally different way," said Dirk Butter, FBN Country Manager, Australia.

With it's co-operative-style model, FBN supports growers by both harnessing the member's marketplace muscle to deliver lower input costs, and also by unlocking the value of farmers' own data with network-powered analytics.

Free for its grower members, FBN has around 11,500 farmers in the US where it launched eight years ago. It officially launched in Australia in August after the acquisition of Perth-based agtech start-up Farmsave. More than 980 Australian growers are now members.

Mr Butter co-founded Farmsave in 2013 with the aim of disrupting the retail model Australian growers traditionally used to buy farm chemicals. It helped deliver lower and more transparent pricing, boosting farmers' bargaining power by making bulk purchases.

FBN's benefits for its members include its direct-to-farm e-commerce platform as well as its analytics services that take the mass of data contributed by its members and turn them into insights they can use to run their businesses.

FBN Analytics

Data is key to unlocking what is actually happening on your farm. What FBN does is organise all the information being provided by members to be cleaned, benchmarked and analysed.

"It allows your data to be plugged in to thousands of other growers," said Mr Butter.

"So instead of looking at just one paddock, you can now look at thousands of other paddocks in conditions very similar to your own farm.

"There is a lot of data that farmers have access to but organising it all is hard - that's our core focus, assisting the grower in combining all the data - maybe years and years of data - into a usable form."

Empowering farmers: Business network delivering insights and lower costs

The data is aggregated from paddock yield and application data coupled with satellite imagery that lets farmers see their farm day-to-day. With strong API links into precision ag equipment, it's made easy and simple to use.

"This is objective information, not what some company wants you to see and is completely anonymised and aggregated for growers to help growers,' Mr Butter said.

The FBN analytics services include its Seedfinder tool that allows growers to see how seed varieties are performing on thousands of paddocks and how those varieties are responding to population or rotational practices.

The information allows a grower to make informed decisions and have the confidence in the decisions because they are backed by substantial amounts of relevant data.

FBN Direct

FBN Direct is FBN's online buying platform that sets out to create a new way for farms to purchase the critical inputs they need, at the lowest possible cost and in the most convenient way.

The platform connects FBN members directly with manufacturers of hundreds of products cutting out the middle man and creating competition for the members' business to deliver the best prices.

It provides transparency in pricing and makes the same price available to all growers across the network, whether they are on 500 hectares or 15000 hectares.

"When you go to FBN you know the price is the price - we offer the same price for everyone. No matter if you're a small or a large grower or where you're located, you get the power of being part of the FBN network and have access to the best prices that FBN can produce," Mr Butter said.

Community focus

In Australia, FBN has also launched its Community Builder program that comprises local representatives in various regional areas who are able to bring the savings to local farmers and help them leverage the opportunities.

"With FBN we want to be a very local business, offering a different way of doing things, not just through the traditional retail," Mr Butter said. "The Community Builders are a local presence that means farmers can purchase locally if they prefer but still get the benefits of being part of the network. It's bringing local to global."

This is advertiser content for Farmers Business Network.