Business Intelligence for Agriculture
Farmers: Help yourself to some satellite data
Time, money, energy: Everyone wants to spend as little of these resources as possible on business tasks – so do farmers. Advances in satellite analysis and weather forecasts provide the means to yield better results by using less resources and even reducing the environmental impact.
Yet there are no services the ordinary farmer can use without paying horrendous consulting fees to specialists.
green spin specialized in analysing soil and crop development via satellite data. The German startup company set out to provide such data over an internet platform easily accessible to every farmer.
Sophisticates helped us focus on the essentials: Business-wise, they steered us to a crystal clear vision of what was needed when. After that, together we transformed that vision into stellar software without breaking the bank.Dr. Sebastian Fritsch, CEO of green spin GmbH
In spring 2015 we met with the startup for our MVP workshop (see step one of our process). After talking about vision, ideas and goals we narrowed down how the first version of their product should look like.
The Minimum Viable Product
Version 1.0 would contain 5 modules:
- Field Management: Map fields and add properties
- Weather: Compare histories of temperature and rainfall for each field
- Visualization: Observe satellite data analysis on and off the map
- Fertilization: Generate individual GPS-based fertilization plans for use with modern fertilizer-machines
- Sampling: Create soil sampling plans to hand over to contractors
After mapping out the requirements, it was time to get our hands dirty: In prototyping workshops everybody gathered to develop sketches of all the features these modules contain. As a result we got a digital mockup of version 1.0 that green spin used to talk to partners, first customers and investors.
The first software development sprints began in June. After setting up basic components like account and subscription management, we had to tackle the two main challenges: Good usability despite complex user interface requirements on the front and efficient data synchronization on the flip side.
In contrast to other web applications this product makes heavy use of interactive maps that need to play together with tables, forms and several controls.
The goal was to provide users with an intuitive experience, even though complex interactions had to take place in the background: Changes in forms for example lead to reactions on maps or in tables and the other way around. All interfaces needed to remember their state across page loads to not confuse the user.
Another important milestone was the interface to exchange data with external data sources. All data points need to be in sync with green spin's processing backbone. It collects data from sources like NASA and ESA, crunches it and provides the results to the application. Each time a farmer adds a new field, the web platform sends the coordinates and in turn receives several data layers, for example temperature or fertility data.
Right on schedule green spin launched the first version in autumn 2015. They called it mofato, which is short for Modern Farmer's Tool. As a result, they were able to both grow their client numbers and arouse new investor interest.