The co-founders of Wolcott-based Rogo Ag enjoy the science of soil. The ag-tech company builds and operates autonomous robots to help farmers get more consistent soil samples.
President Drew Schumacher says as an industry, soil fertility management has not changed much over the past 15 years.
That is where he and his business partner, Troy Fiechter, saw an opportunity for innovation.
“From the very beginning, Troy saw a need on their farm. They were looking at the data and it just wasn’t making sense,” said Schumacher during this week’s Ag+Bio+Science podcast presented by AgriNovus Indiana. “When you took a sample from the same point, it wasn’t actually the same.”
The team started digging into the data from Troy’s farm and discovered errors existed in the soil collection process. Which meant the farm was not applying the correct amounts of fertilizer on the right spots in fields to get the results they were paying for.
“So, what we do is we take out all the human error in the soil collection process, cutting the error by three X on an absolute scale, taking it from anywhere from 20%, down to 2.5% error,” Schumacher told podcast and Inside INdiana Business host Gerry Dick. “That’s the value we provide, which ultimately equates to better fertilizer application for the farmer.”
Schumacher says while most farmers would not be willing to purchase an autonomous for soil sampling, Rogo Ag is finding agricultural retailers and cooperatives who see the benefit.
He says that is one of those lessons an entrepreneur must learn as they create and build a startup: know the client, which was not farmers.
“We were just really struggling, honestly, to generate momentum-building interest. And we ended up finding that retailers and cooperatives were generating far more interest. And it just took off as soon as we fell into that customer lane,” said Schumacher.
Schumacher says to create a successful innovation in agbiosciences, entrepreneurs must have a solution that makes a farmer’s operation more efficient, sustainable and profitable.
During the Ag+Bio+Science podcast, Schumacher touches on the life of an entrepreneur, growing a startup in Indiana and his advice to young people considering it as a career path.
The full podcast will be available Monday morning. Click here for more information on how you can listen.