AGB is a web application focused on linking communities of agriculture in a holistic manner online. Through a simple interface, it may be possible to bring pertinent data to the user based on their profile attributes, mix of farm operations, and location; making the internet more usable and convenient for busy farmers looking for information and opportunities relevant to their niche.
- A platform where small farmers can Market themselves, their goods, and services for free; building up SEO and local credibility online without needing web development skills. A platform which can Profile the diversity of the agriculture industry for-directing advertising, and circulate information and opportunity among its many segments.
- A platform that organizes a scheme of classification which can define distinct farming operations, methods, and crop tips; a taxonomy easy for farmers to understand and search through, using action descriptors and associating them with equipment and crops.
- A platform where new small scale farmers can Learn, and more practiced experts can gain prestige by imparting their deep knowledge about farm operations and equipment to the community for posterity. A database that is easy to use, easily referenced from mobile phones, or printed as farm guides in any language
Smart System Assumptions:
Some farming sub-cultures are significantly more innovative than others; I believe what distinguish them is the degree of competitiveness within the market niche they inhabit, their inter-connectedness (with vendors and other farmers), and their openness to share knowledge in the form of information and opportunity.
My research shows that many small scale farming business know little of their neighbors success or the details of their farming practices in detail, so I want to create an online learning tool for storing farming insights and diffusing information between farming cultures. Linking isolated farming groups to integrate previously unrelated viewpoints and technologies could spark innovation and wealth creation in regional economies.
The culprit of commodities stagnation can be as simple as being ignorant of common diseases, limited research, weak crop area expansion and poor pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest management practices. How often are farmers surveyed to truly understand if they value a certain practice over others?
If a credible database of up-to-date profiles on farm operators and farm operations exist online, the attributes of those profiles can be leveraged for data insights to provide other stakeholder groups (government, vendors, consumers) with valuable advertising space, market information, and statistics on a multitude of farming segments participating in the system.
The farming community needs a stronger online presence given its importance to not only feeding people, but also in the effort of spurring economic growth and innovation in the industry. There are four main design challenges, which I believe may explain why this design barrier has arisen, and why a platform solution is required to overcome it.
Problem 1: The internet’s lack of context and personal connection. Most online marketing tools cannot be linked to the real uniqueness of a farm’s mix of operations, and the networks of vendors and consumers which support them. Farmers are social people. The online world is often anonymous, lacking in credibility and accountability—it’s hard for them to trust and connect to it.
Solution – An AgrowProfile: First and foremost, Agrowbase, would be a database of credible and trustworthy farming profiles, giving farmers features which would give them full control of what they disclose, the tools to market themselves easily, contextual preferences can filter information and opportunities based off the user’s profile attributes. A farmer builds up their credibility in the platform by writing database entries and mentoring other farmers.
It gives you full control of what you disclosure in a simple way. Disclosing a farmer’s operations is tricky, as it might put him or her at a perceived competitive disadvantage. The solution is give them full control of what they want to disclose to the public, and what stays between them and the system. So a simple check box, set automatically to hide from public, for each profile attribute seems like the most straightforwad solution.
AgrowProfile: – What the users of the system must be able to do.
- Profile Page: Gives the user the ability to modify their profile, show their work experience, attaché a pdf resume. A public user does not need to be signed in to see farmer profiles.
- Dashboard Page: Shows relevant information and opportunity entries that others users have generated sorted by relevance to the User’s profile and AgrowContext attributes.
- Operations Page: Show which Operations the User conducts, the Operations the user knows about know, and the Operations or sectors that interest them. Allows then to modify these attributes. Operations data is pulled from the AgrowLearn database.
- Market: Allows users to modify links, pictures and information about their product, services, or Ads listed in the AgrowMarket.
- Business Page: Allows users to add links, pictures and a bio about their business, a public user does not need to be signed in to see this content.
- Options: In the interface options there should be a simple way to delete profile or recover a profile, change email, and change name. If the profile is deleted, any entries created by the user should stay intact. However, administrators should be able to make macro level deletions of all entries created or related to a user.
AgrowProfile: – What the database should do.
- An AgrowProfile entry should have a real name, location, contact info, biography, and pictures. A unique AgrowID should be generated for the user, as well as a username, password, and verified email; to be associated with, and gain access to, the AgrowProfile.
- In the AgrowProfile entry attributes, there should be database list of the Operations the User conducts, the Operations the user knows about know, and the Operations that interest them. These database lists represent their “Operations Mix”. A user can add or edit Operations to their operations mix through the AgrowLearn Interface.
- In the AgrowProfile database attributes, there should also be a database list known as AgrowContext. AgrowContext represents a set of key attributes relating to the User’s gender, the type of stakeholder they are, type of farm they own or work on, type of legal business they own—if they are a business owner, the agricultural sector they work in (crop, livestock, both), and the scale of farm operations they conduct. Those attributes are acquired through an in-depth survey form when they register. These data attributes can be modified in the AgrowProfile interface feature by the User or by the content management administrator.
Problem 2: A lack of in-depth operations research on agriculture online. It is difficult to find up-to-date deep knowledge about farm operations online. Small business farmers often have a hard time finding good research notes for new farming niches they are thinking about trying, lack of key business insights causes a lot of false starts and waste of capital and material resources.
Solution – An AgrowLearn Database: In exchange for discounted AgrowProfile features, the platform would come to leverage the community’s deep agricultural knowledge for public use and posterity. AgrowLearn is a simple straightforward interface for farming communities to develop a knowledgebase in a credible, interactive, and easy way.
Considered the idea of having farmers explain in simple terms their methods of growing a lot of custom saplings for consumers so they can transplant these methods and insights to their own family plot at home? The farmers help the consumer raise the vegetable well. This could spark the direct connection between farmer and consumer. The interaction would also elevate the social status of the farmer by making them experts in different plant life, which could significantly increase their cultural value to the community.
With AgrowLearn features, farmers can collaborate on describing agricultural operations and equipment; they can edit, vote, discuss tips, and monitor potential innovations in products and operation schemes. Consumers who are gardening enthusiast, or are thinking about starting a farm, will also value being able to participate and utilize the knowledgebase to outline the steps they need to achieve success.
Governmental Research and Regulations: Agrowbase keeps you apprised of current and potential government regulations, pertaining to your particular niche in the agricultural industry—whether its local ordinances or new state laws, Agrowbase makes keeping informed quick and easy. This can be accomplished by designing a simple interface for government agencies to submit their reports and analytics as well as attributing which segments of the agricultural industry it will likely effect. Government may be interested in seeing the discussions generated by their reports, and getting direct questions from farmers.
I guess my biggest question is what are the barriers that deny farmers access formal financial systems? If the government or Agriculture community could incentive specific "challenges" to be researched, and could create a pot of money to pay people for basic research on their small farms. The time and care in conducting the research and discussing the results being the prime criteria for dispensing funds? This could provide supplemental income to farmers in the form of grants or stipends which could be used to start their own businesses operations and experimentation.
The app could also make it convenient for the farmer to navigate and understand all the different byproducts his/her farm waste could be useful for. All the different operations and alternative operation and the business risks/ challenges involved.
Monetizing knowledgebase of universities, research institutions, and news agencies: There is an opportunity to generate revenue by helping third parties monetize their knowledgebase by offering subscriptions to farmers. It would require an interface be built design specifically for this action. When farmer subscribe and pay a transactional fee Agrowbase would get a percentage of that fee. The information would be sorted in an automated way among paying subscribers. Farm associations and cooperative may also subscribe and share those subscriptions with its members.
AgrowLearn: – What the users of the system must be able to do.
- Operations Database Page: It allows one to seach for information on different farming operations. Add and edit techniques, tips and steps, sumbit links to video and articles which relate.
- Equipment Database Page:
- Service Database Page:
- Articles & News Page: A user can submit a link or rss. If an article is flagged as spam by 10 or more people it is automatically deleted.
- Options: In the interface options there should be no way to delete an entry, only edit it, several previous version of the entry should exist, and only the administrator should have the ability to delete, roll back changes, and lock entries so they cannot be further edited.
AgrowLearn: – What the database should do.
- All Agrowlearn entries should be categorized as Information Entries (AgrowIN). With a subset of optional attributes-(AgrowContext) the user creates for that AgrowEntry. Further, the entry should store the AgrowID of the creator and the date it was created.
- Agrowlearn consist of three main databases, one which stores information on distinct farming operations; the second, a product database which stores information on distinct agricultural equipment; and a third, which stores information on distinct agricultural services. There may be a need for a relational database to store associations between the three main databases. Users should be able to rate the entry, so an aggregate of its community rating should also be incorporated. These are not advertising entries, they are information entries related to generating a databases of public knowledge.
- The farming operations database: Each operation has its own picture, a description of the operation, a description of main steps, variations to steps, and a list of main equipment used in the operation. Pictures are optional, use default picture if none are uploaded. If a user does not see their operation in the database they can add a new operation entry. All operation entries should be categorized as (AgrowEntry) Information Entry (AgrowIN) Data. The farming operation shall be associated with a list of products and services in the database entry.
- The Product database: Each has its own picture, name, manufacturer, and a short description. Pictures are optional, use default picture if none are uploaded. If a user does not see their equipment listed in the database they can add a new equipment entry. All product entries should be categorized as (AgrowEntry) Information Entry (AgrowIN) Data. The product shall be associated with a list of farming operations and services in the database entry.
- The Service database: Each has its own picture, name, and a short description what the service is. Pictures are optional, use default picture if none are uploaded. If a user does not see the service listed in the database they can add a new service entry. All service entries should be categorized as (AgrowEntry) Information Entry (AgrowIN) Data. The service shall be associated with a list of farming operations in the database entry.
Problem 3: A lack of actionable information on business opportunities for farmers online. It can be difficult to find farming opportunities online; used equipment, specialized farm vendor services, local agricultural contracts, or even farm hands to help with harvest can be a chore to advertise. Sometimes you can’t even be sure if you’re targeting the right customer segment through a newspaper ad or online ad space. The online world has yet to produce a one stop space to aggregate farming opportunities for local and regional economies. These features are tools to market a vendor products, services, or opportunities through a cost effective advertisement & survey system, which targets select farm demographics.
Solution – AgrowMarket Tools: With AgrowMarket advertising tools you can be sure your targeting the right farming segment; a platform such as this could leverage the agriculture industries diverse population for better targeted advertising. AgrowMarket tools actually allow you to see the agricultural demographic segments participating in the system in your locality or region, the fees are flat rates based on the number of people you wish to advertise to, so you can control your advertising cost and become more selective in your advertising. Low cost flat fees on product and services listings, married with intermeshed local and regional ad space could generate substantive business revenues to cover the main operating expenses of the platform.
Contract listing system: To see open contracts and request for proposals is free to farmers, actually responding to such opportunities cost a small fee. When a proposal is submitted a link to your online profile is included for review. Submitting contracts in the system will require a contract entry interface for vendors and cooperatives. Using this interface and submitting a contract is free to the vendor, government agencies, or brokerage firms.
Farmer Service Listing: Every farm operator will be able to add listings for equipment and services they need.
Vendor Service Listings: Connect farmers with local and regional distributors and logistics chains. Also also vendors to explain the process and requirements of connecting to them. Local/Regional service listings consisting of advertising for insurance brokers, distributers, farm hands, trainers, equipment repair, and others business services of the agricultural industry. The fee for this listing will be a flat rate.
Market Map: Vendor can asks to see how many of a certain kind of farmer, with a certain kind of operations and equipment, in this certain area. A market map is a picture of a particular region based on a farmer segment the vendor is targeting. It may include addresses and phone numbers depending up the farmer’s disclosure.
Job Employment: A job posting interface and with resume listing features.
Vendor or Government Surveys: Incentives are given through Agrowbase platform for the different farming segments to participate in vendor or government surveys. Vendors submit a survey; indicate which farm operations they are targeting, the number of participants, and the timeframe they wish to survey to last. They pay a platform fee and a farmer’s incentive fee. These fees are transactional and held in escrow until their dispersal to Agrowbase and the farmer when a survey is completed in full. If a number of surveys are not filled out the cost of those unfilled surveys are returned to the vendors.
Problem 4: A lack of big picture strategic thinking and opportunities (business intelligence) among small scale farmers. The 2010 USDA statistics indicate, on average the U.S. agricultural community is an older population (56 years young), not too keen on modern digital technology, and often juggling more than one job. Busy farmers are hesitant to invest their time and energy searching through the sea of information that is available online, just to find a few relevant tidbits. The USDA has a lot of free statistics regarding the agriculture industry, but they are in large part beyond the common person’s ability to analyze and draw useful and actionable conclusions from in a timely matter. This leaves a situation where farmers could be making less informed business decisions, for want of time and skill to wade through data to make connections t base decisions off of.
Solution – AgrowTrend Tools: Trends and innovations in farm operations could be uncovered and disseminated quickly among segmented farming communities. If knowledge circles could be generated automatically and circulate relevant information that could aid in business decisions, this could greatly reduce business risk and volatility in local commodities markets.
Monetize Agrowbase Market Research and Statistical Analysis of farmer profiles: If enough agricultural producers, consumers, and services and markets are linked through this platform there is great potential in the database to track and forecast market trends in the full gambit of the agricultural industry—and their interrelations related to food production. Tis may lead to the creation of journals and proprietary reports which provide statistics and market data which substantial revenues may be garnered from. This data analysis component of Agrowbase could provide a large windfall in profits for the company in the long term.
The farmer and vendor profiles could create a valid pool of attributes to garner credible market data and statistics from. These trends derived from interactions within the software system could provide key insights into many agricultural segments. It is at the regional and national levels that enough data can be aggregated to produce valid market trend forecasting for financial and governmental sectors. These pools of data can be refined into reports for particular sectors and sold for revenues.
The finical industries in particular would greatly benefit from source research into profiled buying habits of farm operators and agricultural commodities trading at local, regional, state, and national levels. The number of detailed profiles will entail how comprehensive and trustworthy such statistics gathered from this data system could be.
AgrowCMS – A Content Management System: Administrative partnership between dedicated AGB staffers, credible industry experts, and a community rating system. The main functions of the system would become more rich and valuable to stakeholders of agricultural community as participation scaled and network effect carried the platform locally, regionally, nationally, and potentially globally; buts its best to think of this initially as a good way to connect agriculture better locally.
AgrowContext – Contextualization Stratedgy: The Agrowcontext attributes are key to building in this functionality into the system architecture. The user is the creator of entries and understands the “context”, source and perspective, which he or she brings information or opportunity into the system. As modern communications technology evolves users are transitioning from primarily consumers of information to creators and contextualizes of information, it is essential a standard interface exist to make it convenient to do just that. Heuristicly processed content can be contextualized to farmers by linking operations, sets of equipment, and geographic location heuristically to prioritize content results. Heuristic processing uses judgmental rules known as knowledge structures that are learned and stored in memory. The heuristic approach offers an economic advantage by requiring minimal cognitive effort on the part of the recipient. Heuristic processing is governed by availability, accessibility, and applicability. Availability refers to the knowledge structure, or heuristic, being stored in memory for future use. Accessibility of the heuristic applies to the ability to retrieve the memory for use. Applicability of the heuristic refers to the relevancy of the memory to the judgmental task. Due to the use of knowledge structures, heuristic information processors are likely to agree with messages delivered by experts, or messages that are endorsed by others, without fully processing the semantic content of the message. This is a form of network behavioral targeting; farm operator attributes heuristically link together similar farm operations, and share pertinent information within those heuristic networks.
A lot of older demographics are not familiar with internet research or indepth web browsing. Through a simple straightforward, contextualizing interface, it may be possible to bring pertinent data to the user, making the internet more usable and convenient for busy farmers looking for information and opportunities relevant to their unique operations. This customized data-flow is garnered from the farmer attributes indicates in their profile—he or she can change them at any time and be linked to new heuristic circles. Agrowbase increases convenience by consolidating the myriad information conduets into one simple interactive interface through contextualization. Geographic locations, farm operations, and equipment are the key heuristic data categories which can be used to contextualize the majority of information and opportunities.
AgrowEntry: Effective utilization and creation of business intelligence requires a business person to keep informed of relevant information and opportunities to act on and keep informed about. In the creation of an online space, to serve this need, AgrowEntry features are meant to manage content in the system in a way that makes it possible to link operational context with revelent information and opportunities available in the platform. AgrowEntry can heuristically contextualize agricultural information by using farmer profile attributes. In this way it might be possible to heuristically contextualize, link, and filter information and opportunity between farming operation communities locally, regional, and eventually worldwide. Ultimately this is a key way to merge farmers, their networks, and operations with the online world seamlessly and in a straightforward manner; and provide them convenient access to information in a relevant and timely manner.
AgrowIn – Information Modeling: AgrowIn are data entries which inform people of agricultural trends. News articles, video, knowledge entries, on agricultural operations, Equipment, and regulations. Rated by a community for significance and relevance; comes mainly from AgrowProfile, AgrowLearn, and AgrowTrend feature entries.
The goal of information modeling in the system is to develop and decide models were information can be brought into the system at free or low cost so the automated system might contextualize it for different farmer segments. There is already a vast network of agricultural news organizations, bloggers, research institution, and media networks that provide content—it’s just too much for any one farm operator to manage. Agrowbase automated system should not be thought of as primarily a content creator, but a content enabler, organizer, and sorter in this modeling; the goal being, to find credible information for the system to sort—and leveraging a way for content creators to benefit. It is important to note that the information models are meant to be in the large part free to the user.
Scenario: Agrowbase increases convenience by consolidating the myriad information systems into one simple interactive interface. To do this it needs information. Once it has information it circulates it between communities/sectors of farmers with the similar profile attributes. It prioritizes this content based on the farmers profile attributes and community ratings. A farmer may have a mix of operations and so would have a mix of information circles he or she would be connected to. Information that is useful and relevant will be rated highly; the highest rated will circulate among the farmer segment and be prioritized at the top of their information lists on their dashboards. The information might also spark conversations or debates within the circulation circle, these create mini forums of discussion.
AgrowOP – Opportunity Modeling: Data which informs people of opportunities: Contracts, Products, Services, farmers Markets, surveys, and jobs. Uploaded by Vendors and stakeholders looking to make connections; data comes mainly from AgrowMarket and CMS entries.
The goal of opportunity modeling in the system is to develop models where actionable opportunities can be brought to the relevant farmer and vendor segments. By default, local and regional opportunities takes priority in the listings, however with a push of a button you can see the diverse opportunities within your local community, region, and state.
AgrowSocial: A Social System for starting conversations about agriculture, rating Products, rating services, rating information, and opinion. The AgrowSocial features should include the ability to print business cards linked to their online profile. Their business will garner online exposure with SEO, and is linked with their physical business cards so as to enhance their credibility and exposure through traditional word of mouth. A person who uses their business card to check the farming profile online will find a detailed profile of that farm operator, their operations, awards, and equipment.
RSS Feeds and User Submitted links: Initially the easiest and cost effective solution would be just to integrate link submissions by farmers and pulling relevant information from a myriad of RSS feeds from government websites, nonprofit, and public research institutions. After following the links, which drive traffic to the content creator’s website, each farmer can rate the relevance; information that is of little consequence will be rated down and eventually deleted out of circulation in the customer segment circle. It would be difficult to try to charge for this service, internet user groups already expect this kind of functionality in the basic features of products. However it is a low cost way of getting information into the system.
Other Potential Abilities:
Organizing Associations and Cooperatives: Through the associations users will be able to pool together to garner community discounts on agricultural equipment from vendors, plan and post events, and gain access to association journals and research reports. Agrowbase could garner transactional revenue from users creating Associations and Cooperative entities in the platform. Associations set up in Agrowbase will need to be certified and its members will pay a small online due s which will be levied for the Agrowbase certification processes and the maintenance of the platform. Through associations users will be able to pool together to apply for healthcare insurance, garner community discounts on agricultural equipment, and gain access to association journals and research reports.