Digitising the agricultural industry with FarmFacts and NEXT Farming
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Get to Know FarmFacts and NEXT Farming
FarmFacts GmbH is a medium-sized company based in Lower Bavaria dedicated to providing innovative and feature-rich developments in the agricultural sector. As a partner for comprehensive digital farming solutions, FarmFacts offers software solutions as well as complementary products and services from a single source - and has been doing so for over 35 years. One of these solutions is NEXT Farming.
NEXT Farming offers simple solutions for optimizing agricultural business processes in the most economical way, for smart farm management.
In the coming years, online trade will change the agricultural sector forever. To be successful in the market in the long term, there is no way around the need to digitise all processes for all parties. To achieve this, a future-oriented extension for NEXT Farming is being developed: NEXT Marketplace.
NEXT Marketplace will accelerate the use of digital technologies for ordering inputs such as seeds, fertilizer or crop protection, and for the first time everything will take place within the farmer's farm management system. By linking to the software used to control the entire agricultural operation, this will increase efficiency for the farmer and creates synergies in planning and ordering operating resources.
In order to combine a strong user-centric approach with a modern software architecture, FarmFacts turned to Valtech.
We delivered an open trading platform alongside a new transaction system and APIs to communicate with other platforms and FarmFacts clients. These can be maintained by FarmFacts' in-house team and any teams hosted by additional vendors.
With three different development teams involved from the start, we worked in two-week sprints and met regularly through daily stand-ups and reviews. This agile approach enabled us to communicate effectively across team boundaries .
The challenge was to efficiently manage cross-functional teams remotely. This involved conception, UX and visual design and development. This was only possible thanks to the absolutely agile working methods of all those involved: whether product owners, designers or programmers.
The tools for the job
To make a decision on the most relevant tech stack, we held a brainstorming session at the architecture level. In conjunction with various tests and internal team discussions, the decision was made to switch from SpringBoot to the Quarkus Java framework.
In combination with an API-based headless approach, together we aimed for a future-proof and modern system landscape that would make it possible to efficiently and economically extend features years later, without compromising everyday operations.
The project was completed in just five months. From project start in February 2020 to the go-live in July, the teams managed to develop a product that makes FarmFacts the first company in the industry to combine farm and agronomic management with the procurement of inputs.
With NEXT marketplace it is now possible to not only plan daily operational procedures, document or calculate fertilization requirements but also to directly order the right fertilizer out of the same application, without having to export data or needing multiple points of contact. Analogue comparisons of offers are a thing of the past, as well as painstaking documentation of various sources of invoices and order quantity confirmations.
The chosen technology stack is absolutely state-of-the-art. Additionally, the goal of guiding the user through an intuitive user interface and a well thought-out UX was achieved. Early user feedback has been strong and has highlighted the transformative nature of improved efficiency and intuitive functionality of NEXT Farming.
The NEXT Marketplace is a completely new approach to agricultural trade: for the first time, a company has integrated a marketplace as an online trading platform directly into a farm management system. The software that farmers work with every day to manage their farm.
Gunnar Zinkhahn Rhobodes