Annual Conference

Annual Conference Highlights

By Paul Schrimpf, AgGateway Director of Marketing and Communications

Inspired by the theme “Learn, Engage, Grow,” and driven by the opportunity to connect face-to-face for the first time in two years, more than 125 attendees gathered in Nashville in November for the AgGateway Annual Conference.

“I was really excited about the energy I saw throughout the event,” said Brent Kemp, incoming President and CEO. “Rooms were packed with good interaction, and attendees were having engaged and constructive conversations on key challenges we’ve identified. This conference sets us up well for a very productive 2022.”

The conference also provided attendees with an opportunity to share gratitude and well wishes to outgoing President and CEO Wendy Smith as she prepares to retire at the end of the year.

“I will miss the rich collegial experience at AgGateway, the wonderful people – members and staff – and working relationships we’ve shared, and all the progress we have made together since AgGateway was founded more than 15 years ago,” Smith said. “I’m extremely proud of everything AgGateway has accomplished and continues to accomplish.”

“Wendy is going to be missed not just by the staff but by the organization as a whole,” said Kemp. “She has provided amazing leadership throughout her years at AgGateway. The organization has gone through some challenging times, and yet we have emerged financially stronger, and have expanded our size and influence. We wish her well, but she will be missed.”

Inside the Conference

More than 40 sessions were conducted over three days, including Working Groups (click here for Working Group summary article), project Meet-Ups, and new project discussions, the opening business meeting and awards presentation, and closing keynote. Introductory sessions – AgGateway 101 and an instructional course on the ins and outs of Working Groups – were well attended and helped set the stage for a productive conference.

Below are session highlights provided by staff and volunteer leadership:

Grain and Feed Meet Up:  Scott Nieman of Land O’ Lakes led the discussion on a proposal to create a working group to develop the implementation guideline for an electronic proof-of-delivery scale ticket that tracks the change of custody or ownership, captures scale weights, and observed qualities of the commodity. The focus is on standardizing the data to provide proof of delivery of grain from the farmer to the grain elevator. This includes actual delivery, proof of delivery, and transfer of ownership/custody. A core goal is to eliminate the use of paper receipts. The data can potentially be used downstream for traceability and stewardship. It was recommended that the effort leverage work from AgGateway’s previous CART Project involving grain.

The proposal was well received, though the discussion centered on whether the first effort should focus on grain deliveries, or cover agricultural commodities in a more general sense. The next step will be to schedule a Meet-Up to decide on the final scope, and then revise and submit a Working Group charter.

Quick Connect Sessions:  Four sessions were conducted at the conference, allowing trading partners to have individual discussions regarding the implementation of electronic messages. A Quick Connect Task Force meeting was also held to discuss how this event could be improved and expanded in the future. The focus of the conversation was on how to get more participation from existing members but also how to get more ag retailers involved. Attendees decided to form a Working Group or standing committee that would meet more frequently and create an action plan.

AGIIS:  An education session for AgGateway’s Ag Industry Identification System (AGIIS) drew strong participation, with several non-AGIIS subscribers present. The session provided an opportunity to explain the purpose, function and many benefits of the database system, which provides unique identifiers for use in eBusiness. AGIIS Program Manager Josh Wall covered new enhancements that were added in 2021 and touched on potential enhancements for 2022.

The AGIIS Directory Oversight Committee received an update presentation from GS1 standard organization representatives. The GS1 standard provides the unique identifiers (GLNs and GTINs) that are used in AGIIS.

Ag Retail Meet-Up:  A full room and lively discussion centered around two key topics. The first was to initiate an Energy Working Group focused on creating electronic messages, to kick off early next year. Groundwork done last year had been halted due to the pandemic. The group discussed holding a face-to-face meeting in the April-May timeframe in Indianapolis to recruit participants for the project.

The group also discussed needed work on the adoption of Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) in crop protection electronic messages, and the necessity of creating a formal Working Group. They agreed to start developing a charter.

Water Management & Sustainability Credits:  This session explored issues related to obtaining, reporting and verifying an agreed-upon set of water management data to gain sustainability credits.

Diganta Adhikari from Syngenta presented an overview of the challenges in acquiring and reporting water quality data, and guest Roric Paulman, farmer and past chair of the Nebraska Water Balance Alliance, discussed many of the challenges of collecting quality data for water. Paulman noted that trying to track carbon credits is a costly endeavor and could potentially result in economic liabilities, as the credits earned for year one may not be maintained during the next year. His main focus has been on water quantity, given the drought conditions in the western part of the United States – in his case, the depletion of the Ogallala aquifer.

Charles Hillyer, Director at the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State University, described how AgGateway’s precision irrigation (PAIL) standard could be of benefit to this effort, especially with its observations and measurements.

Attendees ultimately recommended that AgGateway focus on water quality data and not on sustainability credits. The next step is scheduling a Meet-Up for late January.

Field Boundaries:  Jeremy Wilson of EFC Systems and Nathan Stein of Pix4D led a discussion on the intricacies of field boundaries, and made the following key points:

  • Many different shapes are created to represent areas of land that growers operate today. These shapes can be different from one software or hardware device to another, creating issues for growers or service providers. A central database with versioning abilities needs to be created to standardize field shapes for growers and service providers.
  • All modern GPS systems use NAD 83/WGS 84 as a reference data, but use of different projections can be a contributing challenge.
  • Growers and service providers are using real-time kinematic (RTK) systems today to apply products and operate autonomous vehicles. RTK technology is a highly accurate correction methodology that is “anchored” or reliant upon a stored coordinate location. Often, the accuracy of that stored location is unknown in reference to the real world, which causes the measurements to be off.

For next steps, Wilson will take the lead on scheduling another Meet-Up in order to clarify the scope and deliverables of a Working Group.

Other Session Highlights

Cybersecurity & Ransomware - The Industry is in the Hacker's Crosshairs:  This informative session demonstrated how bad actors plan and execute ransomware demands. The speaker and other audience members recommended ways to better secure one’s network.

Industry Standards White Paper:  Jim Wilson reviewed a new tool for documenting the standards landscape called #E. Participants confirmed that making sense of myriad standards and technologies is a challenge; they look forward to resources to address that challenge.

The Past, Present and Future of APIs in Agriculture:  Industry veterans Doug Applegate from Praxidyn, Duey Yliniemi from Cultura, and Scott Nieman from Land O’Lakes discussed the current state of API use in the agriculture industry and beyond.

Closing Keynote:  BASF’s Andy Beadle delivered AgGateway’s closing keynote via remote connection from Glasgow, Scotland, where he was participating in the COP26 Climate Summit. Andy inspired the conference participants in Nashville to continue AgGateway’s focus on improving interoperability in agriculture as foundational to improving environmental stewardship.

AgGateway thanks its Annual Conference sponsors, including Titanium Sponsors: Telus Agriculture and Proagrica; Platinum Sponsors: BASF and Nutrien Ag Solutions; Gold Sponsors: Bayer, Corteva and EFC Systems; Silver Sponsors: Rosen’s Inc., and SSI; Gateway to Ag Careers Sponsors: AgCIO and Syngenta; Keynote and General Session: GROWMARK and Key Cooperative; Break Out Sessions: ACS, Co-Alliance, DXC Technology, The Equity, and SSI; and additional support from EFC Systems, DXC and BASF.

Mark your calendars as we plan for a year of growth, collaboration, and progress in 2022:

Mid-Year Meeting
June 14-16
Prairie Meadows, Altoona, Iowa, USA

Annual Conference
November 14-16
Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach, Florida, USA