Beyond the Pitch
PIPE AG Helps Farmers and Contractor Harvesters Save Money and Time
What happens when a fourth-generation farmer and IT professional becomes fed up with farming technology that isn’t as advanced as the rest of the world?
When that farmer is Roark Thompson, founder and CEO of PIPE AG, the result is an infield logistics system that can save customers money and time—starting with the next grain cart in the next field the next day.
PIPE AG Builds Solutions for Medium and Large-scale Farms and for Contractor Harvesters.
PIPE stands for Product Improvement via Programmed Engineering; AG stands for agriculture. The solution is a fit for 5,000-acre or larger farms that harvest small-grain crops—wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats, and soybeans.
To understand the hard-dollar benefits that PIPE AG provides, it helps to understand a bit about how grain is harvested.
When crops in the field are ready, harvesting has to occur. Ready crops don’t wait; a sensitive crop like wheat, for example, may have about a 10-day window for harvest. When the harvesting is slowed down or delayed—whether from weather, equipment schedules, worker availability, or some other reason—crop yield suffers.
Harvesting requires combines and other equipment that is expensive to buy and own, and complex to use. Many farmers own and operate their own harvesting equipment; however, it is increasingly common for growers to hire contracted harvesters. Custom harvesters, with five to 20 combines, can harvest thousands of acres in a day.
“Farmers and harvesters alike need to know where each piece of equipment is. How full the grain carts are, and how long it will take a harvester to dump a load of wheat,” said Thompson.
PIPE AG supplies all that information and more in real-time.
“We put an iPad in every combine, grain cart tractor, and semi. Then we remotely push the app to these devices. From there, our customers open the app and go,” Thompson said.
The real-time picture on the screen of the iPad resembles the images on Google Earth, the world’s most detailed globe.
“We show the field they are in, the trucks and where they are dumping grain, the grain carts, and combines. We show within 1 percent accuracy the capacity of the combine grain tanks, the weight of the load in the grain carts, and the ETA of when the trucks will arrive back in the field for another load,” said Thompson.
“Customers can see where the 20 people in their crew are at all times—in the field, on the road or at the grain dump seamlessly on every device,” he said.
PIPE also depicts roads in the field showing different levels of compaction to implement controlled traffic with little to no instruction to the operators. This is a measurable benefit to farmers because when vehicles compact the soil, it makes spring tilling and planting much harder and more inefficient.
When the vehicles used in harvesting drive on the same path versus making new paths, it limits compacting and reduces damage throughout the field.
PIPE AG is Designed to Produce Immediate Payback.
“We wanted to build a really innovative product that provided such an easy user experience that is just as efficient for 80-years old who has never used a computer as for an 18-year-old who grew up with an iPhone and video games,” Thompson said.
In addition to an intuitive user interface, PIPE AG required that the underlying technology be absolutely reliable and affordable.
“We use Bluetooth technology,” Thompson said. “There’s no pairing of devices. Customers don’t have to log in and update applications. All of that is done automatically.”
It takes immense amounts of data to capture a real time GPS location across multiple devices. Advances in price and performance have made unlimited data transmission and storage feasible options. With the sheer number of satellites increasing as well as reciprocal agreements that create a fairly seamless GPS footprint. PIPE AG has customers receiving service across thousands and thousands of rural acres in the U.S.
The company’s approach to acquiring customers is as innovative as the solution that PIPE provides.
“It’s common for farmers of medium-to-large-sized farms to have drone footage on YouTube or Facebook to promote their farming operation,” said Thompson. “From those videos, we can get of sense of how the farm works and can determine if it could be a good fit for Pipe AG.”
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