Olds (Rural Roots Canada) – The old adage is that two minds are better than one.
Well, that saying is personified in an app that has seen tremendous growth since it was launched last year.
AGvisorPRO gives the farmer access to a second opinion on any given situation, anytime you need it, and for that second person to see what the producers see in real-time with the idea of helping them with their operation.
Founder Robert Saik says the pandemic forced people to shift their thinking, accelerating the platform’s growth.
“It created the backdrop for people to understand that there’s a new way that we can leverage technology to bring people onto the farm without them having to be on the farm,” Saik said.
“We have to do things differently than putting experts in planes, trains, and automobiles and COVID has forced us to think about doing just that.”
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He adds there’s no limit to the expertise farmers can draw on in the blink of an eye if the platform continues to grow the way it is.
“We can have a veterinarian in your barn, and that veterinarian doesn’t need to be in your barn. We can put an expert in your greenhouse without the expert having to be in the greenhouse. We can put an expert in the field, a bug expert like Scott Meers can be in the field with you without having to be in the field.”
Saik says when he first started looking for feedback on the idea of AGvisorPRO, he presented it as a combination of different apps on the market.
“I pulled together a slide that mashed together eHarmony, Uber, FaceTime, Twitter and shared it with a number of farmers.”
The response was nothing but positive, with everyone saying it would be useful in helping their operations.
Less Windshield Time
Experts ranging from agronomists to veterinarians to mechanics to IT specialists spend countless hours behind the wheel every year going from farm to farm helping farmers with all sorts of issues, but as Saik points out, they are limited in some ways to how many people they can help.
“How many farms can an expert get to in a day? Well, the answer is maybe two or three or four at the most, with AGVisorPRO, an expert could be in 10 or 12 farms, no problem in a day.”
Saik believes a tool like AGvisorPRO can help reduce the industry’s environmental footprint and saves a lot of time because it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to answer the expert’s questions.
At the same time, the platform has a built-in scheduling tool so you can schedule multiple sessions with the advisor to get into the information you need.
“A farmer could get any number of technical representatives instantaneously on the application, and on the other side, the people providing the advice, it just saves them so much windshield time.”
COVID-19 has forced everyone to think differently.
“We have to do things differently than putting experts in planes, trains, and automobiles.”
One issue Saik hopes AGvisorPRO can help provide a lot of help is mental health.
He hopes the app can provide a bridge between farmers and mental health support.
“The whole idea here is that the agriculture community is very spread out geographically, and agriculture comes with its own set of pressures that a lot of city people simply don’t understand.”
Saik says an example of this is when a farmer faces extreme mental pressure during harvest, and they get on the phone, and they are told to take a few mental health break days during the most crucial time of year.
He hopes this will lead to the building of a mental health platform that supports agriculture.
“We have an application in right now with the Canadian Mental Health Association to see if we can build a platform that would provide safe and secure and 100 per cent confidential support for the agriculture community for mental health.”
Saik says it’s a dream that he wants to see come to fruition, adding if it does, they’re going to need a corporate sponsor to ensure the platform is manned 24/7 with qualified mental health support professionals.
The Next Generation and What’s Next?
Saik is already thinking ahead to the producers of tomorrow, putting the technology in the hands of students at Olds College and Lakeland College with plans to expand to Lethbridge College, the University of Alberta, a community college in Brandon, and the University of Manitoba soon.
He also hopes to do additional work with associations like the Canola Growers’ Association.
Ultimately, he would like to go into multi-languages and go broader internationally.
“Our focus right now, though, really is on Canada and the United States right now.”