Lost in all of the news about Deere’s big push further into the precision farming segment with the acquisition of Monosem and Precision Planting has been the spate of acquisitions by Trimble. Last month, the company added to its precision base its plans to acquire the assets of Agri-Trend of Red Deer, Alta., Canada.

Agri-Trend operates a network of over 200 specialists throughout the U.S. and Canada, which includes over 110 independent coaches, who specialize in agronomy, precision farming, crop marketing and farm business management.

“Trimble’s acquisition of Agri-Trend is another step toward total farm management for the grower. Together with Connected Farm, we will provide growers and their trusted advisors with a combined offering that is unique in the marketplace today,” said Joe Denniston, vice president for Trimble’s Agriculture Division. 

For more about the acquisition listen to our interview with Joe Denniston, click on the button below:

A Perfect Fit

Agri-Trend was founded by Rob Saik in 1997 with the expressed purpose of “coaching” farmers and helping them make better decisions on crop input purchases without the pressure of buying any particular product.

Following the announcement of the acquisition, Saik told Ag Equipment Intelligence, “When I looked at Agri-Trend and our ability to impact the globe, at some point the medium sized company either stays a medium sized company, turns into a smaller company or grows into a bigger company. There’s no standing still. And to really impact agriculture in a bigger way, we needed to leverage up. We needed to step up and Trimble is a perfect fit for us.

Trimble: A History of Diverse Ag Acquisitions

Agri-Trend is only the latest addition to Trimble’s expanding roster of diverse agricultural acquisitions since 2009. A year ago, the company acquired Iron Solutions, which provides analytics-based intelligence and a cloud-based software system that tracks the lifecycle of used farm machinery, using sales metrics to include specifications, options and adjustments for condition and hours of use. The company also provides pricing specifications, along with optimization tools for equipment and precision dealers.

According to a Trimble spokesperson, similar to Agri-Trend, Iron Solutions is another component to provide total farm management for the grower.

Other acquisitions over the past 6 years have included:

  • CTN Data Service LLC, creator of Farm Works software, which provides integrated office and mobile software for farmers and agriculture service professionals. (2009)
  • NTech Industries, a provider of crop-sensing technology to control the application of nitrogen, herbicide and other crop inputs. (2009)
  • OmniSTAR Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signal corrections business. (2011)
  • RainWave water management, monitoring and reporting. (2013)
  • IQ Irrigation hardware and software for controlling linear and pivot irrigation systems. (2013)
  • C3 Soil Information System, which combines crop information with soil data to assess site-related factors that impact crop yield, quality and health. (2013)
  • Iron Solutions, analytics-based intelligence and a cloud-based software system that tracks the lifecycle of used farm machinery. (2014)
  • HarvestMark, software for food quality inspection and food traceability. (2015)
  • Agri-Trend consulting group for advising farmers on agronomic practices. (2015)

“We wanted to retain our independence and unbiased approach when it came to crop inputs, genetics, fertilizer, chemicals and seed. So we couldn’t have investment from or partner up with any of the input companies. It just didn’t make sense,” Saik said. “Furthermore, we wanted to make sure we could work with all of the colors of equipment that are out there. Trimble is agnostic when it comes to equipment. Its technology is on all colors of equipment. So it really is a good fit for Agri-Trend to leverage up and move to a higher level. It’s just a really good idea.”

In addition, the acquisition includes the consulting firm’s Agri-Data Solution platform — a proprietary farm data management system. It covers crop planning, crop input tracking, soil sampling, tissue testing, manure analysis, fertilizer blending, field scouting and harvest data tracking. According to Saik, this platform currently supports over 75 million legacy acres with over 8 million acres added in 2015.

The Next Leap 

Saik, who is considered one of the industry’s leading visionaries, said Agri-Trend has coined a term — VRE — that describes the next major leap in precision technology. “It stands for ‘variable-rate everything.’ When you talk about VRE, you’re really talking about a total integrated strategy that manages and helps farmers allocate all of their resources and all parts of the farm. Whether those resources are water, genetics, fertilizers, crop protection products or foliar stimulants. All of these can be varied today with the right information in a timely manner to allow us to make those intelligent decisions,” Saik explained.

“Add in sensor technology together with an intelligent data system and this is where Agri-Trend comes in. I don’t care whether it’s grain marketing or farm business management, agronomics or precision ag, all of it requires data. The interface between Agri-Trend, Agri-Data and Trimble puts us in a powerful position.”

Management of Agri-Trend and Agri Data is being turned over to Darren Howie, who has been with the firm since 2000. Saik will stay with the new company in business development. “I’m going to work on global expansion of the Agri-Trend business model within the Trimble group. I’m going to be able to travel and look at technologies to bring back to the Agri-Trend and Trimble group,” he said. “I think I’m going to have an opportunity to be a bit of an ambassador for agriculture, which I enjoy doing.”