I’m Robin Saluoks, CEO of eAgronom — and this is the story of how I built and founded a software solution for farm management.
It all started on my father’s farm in Estonia, and because we didn’t have a good solution to run it. Just like most farmers, everything was done in Excel or pen and paper. Collecting and sharing data took time. It took focus away from things that matter.
Yes, we would make hundreds of thousands in profit, but a few were working the field and my family had to work like hell to make it happen.
So, I decided to look for a better solution, but couldn’t find anything that fits the needs of my father’s farm. Luckily, I had studied one programming course in university. And at 20 years old, I made the first solution for our farm. Soon after, it would be apparent that other farmers need it as well.
Sowing the Seeds of Innovation
I am from a family that farms. My father and his father before him are farmers. Being born and raised on a farm, the challenges my family experienced presented important lessons I still carry with me to this day.
Growing up on a farm is unlike anything else. As my sense of freedom expanded seeing nature flourish around me in the open — I was also seeing how running the farm is taking away a lot from my father’s own freedoms. He would often disappear for days during the harvest season. And this is on top of the piling paperwork and bookkeeping that had to be accomplished.
It shouldn’t be like this, I figured. Something had to be done.
Equipped with eagerness, curiosity, and enough knowledge of programming from university, I built the first version of farm management software that contained all the information my father needed to run his farm.
It wasn’t until my friend Stenver heeded my call to develop the software with me that we would realize the transformative potential this tool could have to the lives of farmers everywhere. Later on, he would become eAgronom’s CTO.
Receiving encouraging feedback and recommendations when field inspectors from the government saw the software in action at our farm, eAgronom’s journey is suddenly laid out in front of us. I found a way to express my love and passion for farming and farmers through this software — and we’ve been making strides since!
Driving Digitalization in Agriculture
Farming is a tedious business.
While farmers provide food for the world, at the end of the day farms are businesses. Farmers need to turn a profit while managing regulations, market volatility, and land management. Planning, monitoring, and analyzing farm information empowers farmers to make smart management decisions on the farm.
Beyond managing the land (and hoping for good weather), there is so much data collection and record-keeping that goes into running a successful farm. From budgets and tasks to seeds and harvest records. At best, farmers use digital spreadsheets. But it isn’t uncommon to see data being recorded with pen and paper.
While agriculture has come a long way from the cultivation practices of our earliest civilizations to novel equipment revolutionized with industrialization, the use of digital tools is the next stage of progress in agriculture.
To keep up with the demands of modern farming, eAgronom increases the productivity of farmers with digital tools that streamline farm management processes. We cannot completely remove the unpredictability that comes with farming. But we can help ease the burden of farm management with technologies like AI, satellite remote-sensing, and easy-to-use web and mobile apps.
These new technologies, with expert agronomist services, are solutions we built into eAgronom so farmers can live with fewer worries and have better control over their business.
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A Software for Farmers by Farmers
What began as a 3-people operation in 2016 has now grown into a lean team of 70 and growing in 2022. Within 6 months after launching, a majority 70% of Estonian farms, or a combined 200 000 hectares of grain fields, is using eAgronom to manage their farms. We have grown exponentially since.
We expanded further to Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Australia and have raised over €5M in funding. We have also won several prestigious agricultural awards and recognitions in Europe.
While so much work is still to be done, some things stay constant. And that is our commitment to farmers.
eAgronom has been designed with the help of farmers since day one — it has been an ongoing collaboration from then on. In fact, many of the features built into the platform were requests from farmers. We were excited to grow with them and so many farmers were equally as eager to improve the way they manage their farms. Independent farmers across Europe also helped us raise investments.
Looking back, I envisioned the platform with one particular farmer in mind, my father. Now we have gained the support and trust of farmers, even becoming the number 1 farm management software across central and eastern Europe.
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A Sustainable Future for Agriculture and Carbon Farming
Cultivating land for crops entails seasonal work that many farmers seek to carry on for generations after them. However extreme weather effects like prolonged droughts or flooding are becoming more frequent due to rapid changes in climate.
Agriculture and the world’s food supply are directly under threat because of climate change. And farmers are right in the center of it all. Profits and yield quality are affected, and agriculture activities are also seen as big contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet.
How can farms become climate resilient?
In 2021, we began our Carbon program to support climate-friendly farming practices with additional income options for farmers. Carbon farming provisions the use of ecologically-sound farm practices that also help absorb and store carbon in the soil.
Our expert agronomists guide farmers with advice on carbon farming and the farm management software helps farmers keep track of their records. Once the process and outcomes of carbon farming are verified, carbon credits are created that can be sold to organizations looking to offset unavoidable emissions.
LHV, the largest bank in Estonia, is already onboard our carbon credits program — and so are more than 100 000 hectares of farmland managers in Europe. We are actively pursuing to maximize the potential of carbon markets with more partners and exploring blockchain technology to make our program more robust. eAgronom is uniquely positioned to reach and unlock the grower carbon market with digital tools and our close ties with farmers across Europe.