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EarthScout® Year in Review: 2021

Another year has come and gone, not to sound cliché but it feels like we just blinked. As we transition to the darkest time of year, it fills us with joy to look back at all that we have accomplished this year.

On top of the deployment of our standard indoor and outdoor EarthScout® field sensors, we collaborated with growers of various kinds throughout Minnesota to test new products and offerings. The relationships with growers that we have nurtured over the past few years while we work through beta tests have been very rewarding. Throughout this development process, our team of engineers have been busier than ever, and this year set the stage for the future of the EarthScout system.

This year for EarthScout has been one with many new developments and improvements. Some of which was the implementation of new products, new app features, new sensors, new mechanical designs, and integrating the Scout with the app for setup. Much of what was designed will be the crucial “foundation” for the future of EarthScout as the whole system’s logic becomes more complex.

Chris Burg, Hardware Engineer

We will be sharing more information about our new products over the next few months, so please stay tuned to learn more.

Now let’s take a little trip down memory lane and recap some major events of 2021!

In January, we launched our YouTube Channel.

The channel houses a variety of educational content for anyone wanting to learn more about our products and how we are helping growers. We are releasing new case studies with some impressive ROI discovery related to irrigation savings during a particularly dry year throughout Minnesota. You can watch tutorials on our dashboard, learn more about our most popular sensors, and setting up our products. We plan to release loads of new video content over the coming months that we are really excited about. Subscribe now to follow along!

Arguably my favorite podcast our COO, Josh, has done to date was the Urban Farm Podcast with host Greg Peterson. Have a listen by clicking here. This interview came out in January and was a great way to kick off 2021.

In February, we launched the E-commerce page on our website.

Now, you can find our standard indoor and outdoor models available for purchase, as well as some accessories. This section of our website will be growing throughout the years, and we are excited for this jumping off point.

We joined 13 other startups from around the world in February by participating in the Plug and Play AgTech accelerator program.

Highlights from the program include being recognized alongside other innovative startups in the precision farming space, working with experienced mentors, our Grand Farm installation, and being featured in Future Farmer Magazine.

In May, we were selected as Minnesota Cup Semi-finalists (Food/Ag/Bev division).

We learned a great deal from the workshops throughout the program and the opportunity to work one-on-one with experienced mentors on our business plan and pitch deck throughout this process. We also made an introduction video, watch it here!

May and June brought us two new valued team members.

John joined us as a field intern, and we are happy he accepted a full-time position as field technician following his internship. You may have seen John driving all over the Midwest helping with installs, case studies, soil sampling, you name it. There was no job too big or too small for him to handle. He studied geology at UMN-Morris and spent time abroad studying viticulture, which piqued his interest in agriculture.

Anna is our new technical agronomist out of Nebraska. She specializes in row crops, and she also has taken the lead on our mid-season and end-of-season reports. She uses grower data to create graphs that help growers compare data points and make broad judgements on their field management over the course of the growing season and can be used over multiple seasons/years. These reports help our agronomists connect with growers and provide a superior experience of our products.

JivoChat on earthscout.com

In June, we made another addition to our website: a live chat feature where you can speak with an EarthScout team member live during business hours (or leave a message during after-hours and weekends). Yes, we are real people, not robots. We come in peace! Come say hello and ask us for help anytime.

Also in June, we began selling our products on CommoditAg.com.

Our sensors are available for purchase in their Precision Technology department. Shopping at CommoditAg is easy and they host a wide variety of agricultural inputs every farmer needs.

The reliability of our sensors makes them appealing for universities to use for important research projects.

We attended two field days in 2021 where researchers at the University of Minnesota shared their works with an audience and we are fortunate to get to be a part of their projects.

In early August, we attended the Minnesota Apple Growers Association Field Day at Pine Tree Apple Orchard.

There, we got to spend the day with apple growers from around the state and hear about new techniques and technologies being used in horticulture today. Dr. Bill Hutchison and his students are using EarthScout field sensor data in their integrated pest management research. They are experimenting with how apple tree netting may reduce the need for spraying and protect from pests without compromising solar radiation exposure that the trees need to grow and bear fruit. We are looking forward to learning more about IPM with Dr. Hutchison.

In late August we went to the Rosholt Research Farm Field Day hosted by the Pope Soil & Water Conservation District.

There, researchers shared information about their work in nitrogen management for corn in irrigated sand, irrigation management and water quality protection, and Kernza research. Dr. Vasudha Sharma of the University of Minnesota spoke on her research with Variable Rate Irrigation in row crops at this event. The irrigation studies that Dr. Sharma has been performing with EarthScout is very exciting and we have a brand-new case study out that you can watch here. She used several different moisture sensors and compared them during this research, as well. Her results found that our sensors were the most reliable. You get what you pay for.

In person events such as field days and trade shows were not only great opportunities to get the message of our mission and brand out into the world, but they also served as a way for us to connect with our team.

We spend a lot of time working remotely, and while we meet as much as possible on video chat, nothing beats spending a few days cooking meals or going out together to get a real feel for each other’s personalities. So maybe a lot of our time was spent discussing interesting foods that our families made growing up or food oddities that can be found in our distinctive local regions. We work in agriculture, and our love for food is real.

Our first stop on our Trade Show tour was in Eau Claire, WI, for Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

We were unsure what in person events would be like after the pandemic changed the world, however we were pleasantly surprised to see the tens of thousands of people who came out! WI Farm Tech Days took place in July at Huntsinger Farms, known for their horseradish. We enjoyed learning about and eating their fresh horseradish and talking to many growers interested in field sensor technology.

Because in field, remote sensing is a relatively new technology, it was a pleasure talking to growers who are interested in learning more and watching their wheels turn while they imagine the potential of this data over the long term.

Two weeks later, we attended Minnesota FarmFest.

Highlights from Farmfest were sponsoring the FarmFest Woman Farmer of the Year Award, and meeting with Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture, Thom Peterson, to discuss challenges farmers are currently facing in Minnesota and what we are doing to help. Thom supports the development and implementation of new technologies in agriculture that help growers reduce their resource consumption, ultimately saving growers money and protecting our fresh water.

“A highlight of my first year at EarthScout was attending the trade shows in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I got to learn about horseradish and eat squeaky cheese for the first time!”

-Anna Kelley, Technical Agronomist

We shifted gears in October and headed to fabulous Las Vegas for the Marijuana Business Conference.

MjBizCon is host to cannabis professionals from around the world. We have gained traction with cannabis growers because resource management is of high priority to grow the best premium product.

This year we added a tissue sampling package to cannabis growers.

“The highlight of my year was working with a large cannabis grower on their nutrient management by implementing a weekly tissue sampling program. Weekly tissue sampling helped identify what key nutrients were in or out of balance in various fields at various growth stages. The grower had historical information on what fields typically outperformed others, and this way we were able to get all fields performing at a higher level. It was exciting to be a part of this project and I’m dying to see the yield numbers and use what we learned to improve next year.”

-Theresa Bayrer, Grow Coach

We also released a case study showing how cannabis growers can use creativity and EarthScout to solve problems. Watch the case study here.

In December, we attended two trade shows during the same weekend.

Our sales rep, Justin, traveled to Michigan for the Great Lakes Expo. This fruit and vegetable market event was recommended to us by multiple growers, including Bert Bouwman of Twin Cities Maze. Bert has been an EarthScout user for multiple years, and his case study video can be found here.

Our agronomist, Anna, attended the Nebraska Ag Expo. It is a local event for her, and our whole team hopes to make it to Nebraska for events in 2022.

Survey Says…

This year blessed us with many new customers and research partners, as well as the opportunity to continue serving our existing customers and beta testers, so we decided it was imperative that we issue a customer feedback survey to check in and make sure our priorities are properly identified and prioritized accordingly for the upcoming year.

With customers ranging from Florida to the Pacific Northwest and Canada, each grower we work with have vastly different growing operations, but ultimately the same needs: high-quality, reliable products and a great customer experience.

“We look forward to continuing to build EarthScout over the coming years and we appreciate the genuine feedback that we received from customers this year, validating our efforts to provide superior customer service and support along with our products.”

-Josh Krenz, COO

While there were other pockets of joy sprinkled throughout the year, this sums up the most important highlights of 2021. Thank you for following along and we wish you nothing but health, happiness, and joy in 2022… and a bountiful harvest!

We are always working to better serve the agricultural community and if there is anything you need, we will always do our best to help! See you next year!