Our tech solutions have a low training threshold, are non-threatening to a person’s job and allow their wisdom to be used in the future.

4 Min Read

By Brad Guyer, Senior Product Manager, Prairie Systems

We see it almost every day, agriculture companies are acquired for a technology glimmer that promises to be the next big thing. There is something exciting about the opportunity to deliver the digital ag revolution, which row crop has witnessed over the past 20 years, to animal protein production. There is a real opportunity to bridge the gap between consumers, who are demanding wholesome nutritious protein, and our industry, which has a long tradition of being humble and remote.

What farming outsiders consistently fail to deliver are real solutions that engage the ground level, day-to-day work force that has amassed a great historic knowledge and tradition of animal care, and management practices – many lessons that may be lost if the baton isn’t handed off to the next generation.

We are at a juncture where it is necessary to engage the farm with digital tools that tell the story of great animal husbandry. We have the occasion to help today’s integrated production company get better connected, despite their ever-increasing size and complexity.  We must seize the opportunity for our farmers to digitally communicate with the marketplace by transmitting order needs, scheduling animal sales with packers, and ensuring all of this continues to be done with the oversight of a ‘family business’.

I work with a lot of agriculture industry management teams, from animal producers to the feed milling industry, one common theme resonates – there are a lot of seasoned workers that are nearing retirement age and will soon take their knowledge and wisdom into retirement with them.

What can we do as a software provider to help?

I love this challenge and I believe offering solutions with a low training threshold, while creating an enormous collaborative platform, are non-threatening to a person’s job. These types of solutions can help improve communication across the great digital divide between the farmer and the consumer. The current technology solutions can serve as a means of capturing the retiring generation’s knowledge, retaining the current leaders, and hiring the next generation workforce.

How do we know the care and needs of each animal? Is there a way to track the treatment and nutrition?

In the barn, we feel and see the pressure where mass production meets individual animal attention. We have a major opportunity for solutions, such as the LeeO™ RFID platform, to capture every interaction between the care team and each animal. The ability to make critical data, such as how many pigs were weaned and when they are moved to the nursery, instantly available to the production company. We can ensure the right feed budget is executed and keep feed in front of the animals by enlisting the Feed Allocation System (FAS) technology solution. Bringing the combined expertise of nutritionists, veterinarians, field managers, and feed vendors together in a collaborative cloud-based solution becomes imperative for our customers. Management insights once locked away on a corporate server, an Excel spreadsheet, or a 3-ring binder, can now be securely shared with each member of the care team, and directly to the device they turn to everyday – their personal smartphone.

What can be done with feed orders?

With the barns in good hands and caregivers able to maintain a constant feed of information with the growing care team – the timely delivery of the right nutrition to the right animals with safeguards in place to protect against withdrawal periods or protecting ABF / NAE production groups is key. This is where SmartOrder™ can help the feed milling industry share its success story of accurate manufacturing and timely delivery of essential products to the right farm and bin so the animals stay fed.

What’s the benefit of record management if the information that is needed cannot be accessed when it is needed from virtually anywhere? An even greater loss is a career worth of insights and knowledge in the head of our industry’s finest operators as they retire and take that capital with them. If we can continue to deliver app-like solutions that are intuitive and effective in helping each person do their job, we just might have a chance of engaging and empowering the next generation workforce!


Brad Guyer is responsible for product management at Spencer, Iowa-based Prairie Systems Inc., a small company with big ideas about how digital technologies drive customer value, manage risk and optimize livestock operations. Guyer has 20 years of strategy leadership at major agribusiness and logistics companies and can be reached at [email protected] or (712) 580-3311.

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