Software Development

Case Study: Computer-Assisted Grower Assessment Tool

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Many software solutions rely on the industry changing to fit the solution: through the introduction of technology, process change, or outside innovation. Agriculture has examples of this with a long history of mechanization, advances in growing and fertilization methods, and outside technology like satellite imaging and GPS positioning. But unlike some industries, agriculture’s connection to nature and our planet means that specialists are needed to leverage these tools to provide the food and natural resources we consume. Those specialists are farmers across the world.

Unidev was recently tasked to develop and maintain an application to assess farmers’ use of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) insect resistant corn and the required non Bt-corn refuge. Registrants of Bt corn products must submit an annual report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To support that process, a solution requirement was to develop an assessment tool that:

  • is straightforward to use,
  • collects signatures of the farmers as they are assessed,
  • works in all locations, independent of access to broadband or other internet connectivity,
  • uploads data when connectivity becomes available while maintaining the integrity of the data,
  • keeps the data and assessments of different participants separate and secure, and
  • allows for different product assessments and sample groups each growing season.

Since the inception of the assessment program, portable computing equipment has dramatically improved, but assessments are often made in areas of the country where farmers still do not have dependable broadband service. The solution needed to be cost-effective and flexible to the needs of the industry and its users, first, not the latest in technology.

Unidev created a Microsoft Windows-based assessment tool that operates the same from year to year, with each seed provider identifying the products and growers to be assessed based on purchasing data and previous assessments. Unidev creates custom-branded secure applications for each provider to use and a central repository from which they can download aggregated data and PDF documents of the assessments to be sent to each grower.

After the custom-branded applications are released, Unidev provides direct support to assessors and seed providers during the assessment cycle to ensure the collection of data and to resolve unforeseen issues. Assessors are selected for their connections to the community and rely on Unidev for technology skills to ensure a successful assessment cycle.

At the end of an assessment season, Unidev completes the cycle of collecting the data and preparing for the next season’s assessment. No two seasons are the same in terms of who and what is assessed, so the process has been honed to ensure the smoothest experience for the assessors and seed companies from year to year.

Unidev has an established track record of building industry solutions for long-term use while responding to changes in needs based on market and industry conditions. We do this by maintaining close communications with our clients, industry partners, and information technology practices. Ready to capitalize on the power of technology? Contact us to schedule a consultation about your project.