By Jamie Sears Rawlings

ACAM Executive Q&A: Darren Howie, Director, Carbon & Sustainability – Trimble Agriculture Solutions 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
November 6, 2023

Trimble Agriculture’s technology solutions optimize productivity and profitability. The company is committed to helping the ag industry streamline data reporting for farmers and across the entire carbon value chain.  

Trimble Agriculture has spent the past four decades working shoulder-to-shoulder with farmers and their trusted advisors, and Darren Howie, Director of Carbon & Sustainability, believes Trimble brings a unique perspective to the growing conversation around sustainability in agriculture.

“Unlike other players in the carbon marketplace, Trimble is a technology company,” he says. “It’s in our DNA.”

Data is quickly becoming the currency of the climate-smart conversation, and that helps to ensure that Trimble Agriculture is poised to meet the very real need that growers face in generating, measuring and analyzing data.

“Our integrated farm data management system enables transparent, verifiable and easily accessible farm records. Our displays and guidance systems ensure absolute precision,” Howie says. “The result for farmers is increased productivity, profitability and sustainability gains by providing them with trusted evidence of quantifiable climate benefits.”

America’s Conservation Ag Movement met with Howie and discussed what is needed to continue to help producers better use and monetize data, and to better understand the roles of the company’s Climate-Smart Commodities Connected Ag Project and Trimble’s commitment to getting real solutions to the field level. 

Darren Howie, Director, Carbon & Sustainability
Trimble Agriculture Solutions 

Producers often face an ocean of data that is difficult to distill. How is Trimble helping producers make their data actionable?

Often farms are locked into the reporting structure of their software solution. Trimble provides open access and tools that help farms combine data from many programs to have dashboards and farm specific reports. Trimble Ag Software has the ability to extract the requisite data as the ‘rules’ for offsets and/or insets are established.

Around the world, Trimble offers solutions that help farmers begin to tackle these exact challenges-from using less herbicide when deploying a spot spraying system such as Weedseeker 2 to implementing water management technologies to control for factors such as erosion, nutrient loss and runoff-in order to ultimately improve crop yields. 

What is still needed in this space of converting data to decision-making?

In our industry we would like to have all of the various software programs talk to each other and work as well as the programs on our smartphones do. The challenge is that we are a small industry (number of people) and in many cases we need human intervention to get the data to come together effectively. In many areas there are not enough people in place to help farmers in a practical manner. 

During our recent USDA Briefing with Undersecretary Robert Bonnie and America’s Conservation Ag Movement, he said “We recognize the importance of productivity in and of itself as a climate solution.” How does Trimble embrace this concept with producers? How do you quantify efficiencies to help tell the story of the advancements being made in agriculture?

This is a critical issue for our industry. We have heard from farmers and farm organizations that our industry is making changes to protect our soils, manage nitrogen applications efficiently and making management decisions to minimize runoff. However, we often lack quantitative evidence.

Trimble makes it easy for farmers to leverage a solution that works with all types of farm equipment. Here’s how we see it: Trimble Agriculture is just one decision. But that decision can inform a lot of others, like how to manage multiple machines and how to review, hone and orchestrate all farm machinery working together–what will work across the whole farm, across all equipment. When farmers decide to go with Trimble, a lot of other decisions become simpler, too.

At Trimble, we know every farm and every farmer is different. Each works with its own land, its own equipment and its own sense of independence. That’s why we make technology that works with what farmers have to do what they actually need. From guidance control and steering systems to land forming and drainage, Trimble works for all farm equipment, and gives farmers the freedom to choose.

The absence of standards for measuring, monitoring, reporting, and verifying (MMRV) has caused some confusion for producers and disparate modeling for the value chain. How do you see this playing out?

Until we see some alignment around MMRV standards, which may be a result of the USDA Climate-Smart Commodities Program, insurance products may rise to the forefront. 

Farmers are ready to make changes that could help effect GHG reductions/removals, but due to cost and, at times, added risk may not be adopting at the speed that many would like to see. GHG programs led by food and beverage industry leaders could have a positive impact on moving these standards forward faster.

How does the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities project you’re working on play into providing support and resources for producers? What are you trying to achieve in that work?

Connecting producers to the consumer and providing increased revenue to the producer – this is the major priority.

Understanding the complexity of data collection and delivering the reports and information necessary for climate markets to become scalable is of utmost importance to Trimble. We work with farmers to assist not only with in-field data collection but also streamlining the process of turning data into actionable insights. In this project we are helping to take that one step further to turn that data into additional revenue opportunities for farmers. 

Data is the currency that enables producers to access emerging markets and programs focused on GHGs reductions. What role does Trimble play to help enable new revenue streams for producers?

With the addition of the sustainability data aggregation platform to the Trimble portfolio of product offerings, we will be able to reach even more producers, including those not currently utilizing Trimble Ag Software. This platform will function to aggregate data across multiple different software programs and tools using a robust API strategy in order to help farmers unlock access to new markets and revenue streams from their sustainability data. The key is on-farm/field data vs. data collected remotely.

What’s next for Trimble?

We will continue to help farmers gain better access to and value from their field data. Today that is about farm management decision making, compliance reporting and GHG markets, but we see there will be a much greater need for water management in the future.

We are also working on carbon footprint data on consumer labels, water-use efficiency data, nitrogen-use efficiency data on labels, nutrient density data on labels and reporting. 

Additional News and Resources

Outreach Tool Creates Process and Strategy Around Conservation Program Advocacy, Enrollment

time icon

May 9, 2024

Conservation agriculture professionals have a new farmer-centered solution to reach scale with middle adopters  Environmental Initiative, Midwest Row Crop…

The One-Percenters

time icon

April 18, 2024

One of the data points that I found most disheartening from the recent release of the 2022 Census of Agriculture was…

What is Smart about Smart Farming?

time icon

April 4, 2024

Ask a farmer what sustainability means, and you’ll often hear: that I financially survive to farm into the next season. …

Searching for the Key to Conservation Success?

time icon

March 26, 2024

Ducks Unlimited and Trust In Food Say “Follow the Farmer” in Latest Podcast The 2022 Census of Agriculture, released in…

Making Farmer-Centered Innovation Common Practice

time icon

March 21, 2024

Earlier this week, Farm Journal was named to Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies list for Trust In Food’s™ work on…

Want Farm-Level Data? Answer These Three Questions First, Experts Say

time icon

March 5, 2024

Understanding farmers’ perspectives, motivations and values can help accelerate the data sharing needed to quantify and scale climate-smart agriculture…

We appreciate you contacting us!

We’ve received your message and we’ll be reaching out to you shortly!

— Your Trust in Food Team