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Driving enhanced insights for improved agricultural production

Corteva Agriscience

corteva and microsoft fields

Corteva Blueprint Mobile 

  • Category: Agriculture Mobile and Web Development

By working with Kin + Carta to create a mobile application using Microsoft Azure, Corteva Agriscience can help agronomists plan and predict more accurate agricultural outcomes.

In today’s expansive digital economy, collecting and storing information is easier than ever. The challenge is finding a way to transform that data into functioning and usable insights. This is especially true in the agriculture industry, which has experienced a technological boom over several decades as connected devices and new smart-farming tools make crop management more efficient and predictable.

Corteva Agriscience is an agricultural supplier providing farmers around the world with a diverse mix of seed products, crop protection products, and digital solutions. Corteva’s supply chain starts with the company’s industry-leading germplasm, where Corteva scientists develop new seed products. When a product is nearing commercialization, the Seed Production and Supply Chain team begins planning for the demand for each type of seed; contracting growers with ideal fields and management practices to grow the products; harvesting the seed; and, finally, packaging seeds into bags to be sold to farmers.

Agronomists assigned to a production plant are responsible for many of these tasks and for working with contracted growers to help ensure the best yield potential possible. They must build relationships with growers, which includes physically going out to the fields to survey progress, providing management recommendations and planning accurate supply forecasts. The process can be strenuous and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of these tasks.

To help ease this burden, Corteva worked with Kin + Carta using Microsoft Azure to create Blueprint Mobile, a simple, easy-to-use mobile application that supports the production agronomists by enabling them to collect in-field notes, provide in-season crop management and enhance their decision-making abilities. The solution saves time for agronomists, provides more real-time and accurate forecasting to production leadership, and helps produce higher yields from contracted growers.

Streamlining big data: simply and rapidly

The agriculture industry is dynamic and complex and, in most cases, this results in time-consuming processes that can be frustrating for employees. When Corteva began thinking about how to develop an application that would alleviate these common challenges, they knew that creating a simple and effective application was key.

The team defined three guiding principles to drive the design and feature prioritization for Blueprint Mobile:

  • Simplicity of process elements: An uncomplicated process that would allow agronomists to quickly and easily access exactly what they are looking for
  • Enable decision-making: Visually and easily accessible information to enable decision-making and empower growers to make informed decisions for every growing process
  • Elimination of duplicate entries: Seamless elimination of duplicate entries to remove the process for collecting data and transferring it to multiple systems

“Having a rigid standard around keeping it simple and sticking to that was really important,” said Anthony Lackore, seed production digital lead at Corteva at the time of launch. “You really want to put yourself in the user’s shoes when they are out in the field where it’s hot, it’s harsh and things are in motion. It forces you to think differently about how you design the display or position the buttons, for example. That perspective is critical because at the end of the day the success of your product hinges on how well users like using it.”

blueprint mobile blueprint mobile

Efficiency

On the ground, Blueprint Mobile has enabled new efficiencies that save time and effort within the active countries where it is utilized.

Taking moisture measurements used to be a manual process that took up to six hours. With Blueprint Mobile, agronomists can complete a moisture estimate and upload it to the cloud in less than 30 minutes, increasing efficiency by up to 90 percent and making data instantly available for decision-making.

Blueprint Mobile also enables agronomists to take corn yield estimates using machine vision to count the kernels in a photo of an ear of corn. For Corteva’s production agronomists, utilizing this technology has reduced the time required to take a yield estimate and provides a standard global process to improve consistency. Additionally, the company’s commercial and production teams worked together to create a shared library to implement the model into the mobile applications for both business units, enabling the groups to move faster.

“When you have a clear vision, technology can be a critical enabler,” said Lackore. “By applying it intelligently and teaming with the right partners, you can tilt the odds of success heavily in your favor.”

90% increase in efficiency
30 minutes or less to complete moisture estimate
Blueprint Mobile App BluePrint Mobile App

Optimizing the user experience

One of the biggest challenges for application developers is striking an optimum balance between the ease of use and robust functionality. This is why Corteva relied on its collaboration with Microsoft and the capabilities available within Azure. One advantage of Azure is its ability to support a variety of frameworks, giving developers greater design flexibility and clients the autonomy to add multiple mobile applications to the same cloud platform.

“We chose the Microsoft Azure platform because it gave us all the services and tools we needed out of the box,” said Lackore. “The fully managed platform helped streamline design tasks and reduce complexity, allowing us to accelerate time to market without sacrificing features or functionality.”

Using Azure DevOps, the Corteva team took advantage of the out-of-the-box solutions for CI/CD pipeline management, test case creation, and reporting and project management infrastructure to enable proactive monitoring, seamless release and deployment of the application. Microsoft Intune and App Center have also enabled the team to automatically deploy new versions of the app to agronomists across the globe using the Azure DevOps build pipeline. Additionally, the team consumes APIs written in .NET, an open source development platform backed by Microsoft, which are hosted on Azure App Services.

The testing and design process, led by Kin + Carta, provided greater clarity around the user experience and proved instrumental in validating many of the design features. Critical areas, like navigation, were reviewed and refined in line with feedback to allow users to easily flip through screens with a single touch.

“It was refreshing how quickly the Kin + Carta team was able to adapt to the changing needs and requirements of this project. Their agile approach and team have always been very effective and easy to work with.”

Sathya Srinivasan - Technical Product Manager, Corteva Agriscience
Blueprint Mobile App

Working with Kin + Carta

With deep experience in mobile development and user experience design, Kin + Carta proved to be the ideal company, with the ability to hit the ground running and the engineering skills needed to ensure the new app design met the precise functional requirements without compromising quality.

“I really enjoyed working with Kin + Carta. The collaborative approach they brought to the project, the problem-solving, and teamwork proved instrumental for this type of integrated effort. Everyone we worked with really went out of their way to make sure we’re successful.”

Anthony Lackore - Seed Production Digital Lead, Corteva

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