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I joined Granular earlier this year for a number of reasons, but I was primarily excited about the opportunity to partner with the world’s best farms to make them even better through better farm management software, and strengthen the entire industry. In my mind, partnering with the “Fortune 500” of farming meant working with large, hierarchical and industrial organizations, owned by shareholders managing the farm remotely. I was wrong – most of the successful, high-growth and technologically advanced farms are still family businesses.

The USDA has reported that up to 96% of farms today are family owned. Farms may be growing, incorporating and adopting leading-edge technologies to become more professionalized, but family ownership is not disappearing. While our customers might not fit the public’s romanticized view of agriculture (small and artisanal farms sitting quietly on an idyllic countryside), they are complex organizations run by fathers, mothers and their relatives trying to leave the business in better shape than they received it.
Why is it that family farms often defy the common notion we have of family businesses? I see three primary reasons:
1. The industry demands and rewards scale. Most people know that agriculture is a risky endeavor, and that it takes a large capital investment to be able to generate a somewhat steady income year after year. A 1,000-acre farm (which by many standards could be considered a small farm), can barely produce a family income, but yet sits on roughly $10 million worth of land.  Add to that other fixed costs like equipment and labor, and it becomes clear that scaling is required to be profitable throughout generations. As a farm grows, so does its ability to buy in bulk to lock in lower input prices. Size also brings better access to credit. More credit means more means to expand, and so on.
2. Family farms remain devoted to agriculture across generations, and this commitment pays off in real terms.   If you’re a farmer it pays off, literally, to remain in the same place for a long time. Take, for example, a family settled in Iowa in the late 1800’s to start a typically-sized 40-acre farm. An average 5% annual growth rate would mean that this same farm would be roughly 32,000 acres today, five generations later.  An intimate understanding of soil conditions, weather and other agronomic factors results in productivity gains year over year. Longstanding relationships with suppliers result in more favorable terms relative to market and community newcomers.
3. Technology helps farms overcome the challenges inherent in managing and transitioning family businesses.  In every industry, each generation struggles to not only to retain the next to join the family business, but to set them up for future success. In agriculture, this issue is particularly salient. Technology can help generations pass down knowledge on the land, agronomic practices and management decisions. It can help attract young talent to learn and take over the businesses. The right software can generate data that uncovers critical efficiency gains to improve processes that have been in place for years, and helps younger generations make smarter decisions in increasingly competitive ag markets.

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Granular's Annual Customer CEO Summit

March 21-33, 2018

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA

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What happens when a premier Silicon Valley venture capitalist, one of America’s most successful farmers, and the CEO of a growing software company come together to discuss ag? In a recent AAPEX event in Napa, Marc Andreessen, Kip Tom, and Granular CEO Sid Gorham talk about how cloud and mobile technology are advancing agriculture and changing the way farmers run their increasingly complex operations.
 

Latest

How a Potato Grower Found 11% More Profit Using Granular

Learn how Granular helped a real farm discover that their variety choice was costing them $800 per acre

Karl Wozniak, Role
  |  
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Company News

Our Continued Committment to Independence and Data Privacy

Karl Wozniak, Role
  |  
September 11, 2017

Our Continued Committment to Independence and Data Privacy

Karl Wozniak, Role
  |  
September 11, 2017

Our Continued Committment to Independence and Data Privacy

Karl Wozniak, Role
  |  
September 11, 2017

Industry Insights

Three Ways to Run a Successful Harvest

Three Ways to Run a Successful Harvest

Three Ways to Run a Successful Harvest

Events

Grow 2018

Granular's Annual Customer CEO Summit

March 21-33, 2018

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA

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We are proud to announce today our partnership with Mavrx, a pioneering provider of agronomic insight through aerial imagery. This partnership will give members of the Granular network in the Corn Belt exclusive access to Mavrx’s aerial imaging network to quickly supply farmers with timely information on the health and status of their fields for the 2015 planting season.
Mavrx provides users with a streamlined process for obtaining aerial imagery of their fields – they are focused on making the end-to-end process of using aerial imaging efficient, actionable and scalable – customers no longer need to wait to get information that could vastly improve their yields.
“The Granular network includes some of the largest, most professionally managed farms in the industry, and we look forward to delivering our imagery-based analytics services to their clients,” says Max Bruner, CEO and co-founder of Mavrx. “Our unique imaging capabilities and algorithms will enable Granular’s growers to quickly respond to issues using the latest remote sensing technology.”
For now, we’re working together to promote the service to members of the Granular network, but in the future we will also seek to integrate Mavrx’s imagery and issue-detection service into our work order system and integrate Mavrx’s output into Granular’s growth stage, crop health and yield forecasting capabilities.
We are thrilled to be working with the team at Mavrx, as they are a perfect partner to meet the needs of our customers. With Mavrx’s innovative technology we are helping our members gain access to the information they need about their farmland, without needing to wait until it’s potentially too late.

About Mavrx

Mavrx is an imagery-based analytics company driving the next revolution in farm efficiency. Through its sensor network of UAVs, aircraft, and satellites, Mavrx provides total field awareness by combining proprietary machine learning algorithms with imagery captured at the right time and resolution. The Mavrx service detects and predicts changes in crop and soil conditions long before they would become noticeable to the naked eye, thus enabling growers to maximize yields and reduce costs. Headquartered in San Francisco, Mavrx operates in the U.S. and internationally. mavrx.co

Latest

How a Potato Grower Found 11% More Profit Using Granular

Learn how Granular helped a real farm discover that their variety choice was costing them $800 per acre

Karl Wozniak, Role
  |  
September 11, 2017

Company News

Our Continued Committment to Independence and Data Privacy

Karl Wozniak, Role
  |  
September 11, 2017

Our Continued Committment to Independence and Data Privacy

Karl Wozniak, Role
  |  
September 11, 2017

Our Continued Committment to Independence and Data Privacy

Karl Wozniak, Role
  |  
September 11, 2017

Industry Insights

Three Ways to Run a Successful Harvest

Three Ways to Run a Successful Harvest

Three Ways to Run a Successful Harvest

Events

Grow 2018

Granular's Annual Customer CEO Summit

March 21-33, 2018

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA

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Three Ways to Run a Successful Harvest