“RealmFive’s ability to understand our market and our needs sets them apart.”
South Country Equipment is a premier John Deere Dealer in Saskatchewan, Canada. Beyond equipment, they’ve built a thriving business in connected farming. South Country has developed its own proprietary data management software, Crop Intelligence. Initially developed to interpret data from John Deere Field Connect sensors, Crop Intelligence represents a significant investment on the part of South Country – and a recognition of the growing importance of this arena to the farmers they serve.
As Ryan Hutchison, Integrated Solutions Manager for South Country puts it, “We’re trying to provide agronomic insights around weather and soil moisture data for the customer and their partners. Based on water and where it is in the soil profile, we’ve been able to put together insights on what yield potential is based on water. If water was the only limiting factor, what is your yield potential?”
Serving farmers across 7.5 million acres of south-central Saskatchewan, South Country has been in the connected farming business since 2014 when they brought John Deere Field Connect to their customers. With John Deere discontinuing support for JD field connect at the end of 2020, South Country faced a problem.
“John Deere was discontinuing a product that we’d sold customers back in 2014,” Hutchison says. “We had a fleet of a couple of hundred John Deere weather stations that were going to go offline at the end of 2020.”
“Our core need initially was the connectivity solutions for our existing product. But their flexibility has allowed the relationship to grow.”
South Country first met RealmFive at a John Deere Develop w/Deere conference, and their interest was piqued. Hutchison and his team were impressed early on, saying, “Right off the cuff, it was clear they were there with a purpose. They were open to discuss and listen to what we were doing and what our current and future needs were.”
RealmFive’s flexibility in adapting to and working with South Country’s proprietary software proved to be a game-changer. “Their ability to adapt their API to meet our needs was great. It’s very common for a company to have stringent API access, but their team was very quick to help us understand how to pull the data directly from their system.”
Another example of RealmFive adapting to South Country’s needs is hardware. Hutchison recalls a specific example: “Normally hardware is a component in a box and let’s hope one size fits all. But in Saskatchewan, we don’t have a lot of 4G coverage in the countryside. We were delivered 4G technology, which worked fine where we had coverage. And where that didn’t exist, their hardware allowed us to do a modem swap effortlessly. It was that simple. We were able to work with their hardware easily to meet the needs of our trade area.”
“Their communication is top-notch. It’s like being married.”
“I would say that R5 customer service has shown to be one of the best we have worked with.” With service, another high point for South Country is the communication between both organizations. According to Hutchison, “They’ve done a good job of staying in contact with our entire team, regardless of their position (in the company). Everybody along the way took ownership of the task until it was appropriately handed off. From the CEO on down, they’ve been very open to communicate in many ways.”
During the transition from John Deere Field Connect to RealmFive, South Country had some very quick marketing and support needs. “They took ownership of their own marketing and met their own commitments,” he said. What really stands out, according to Hutchison, is “the ability to understand our marketplace. And if they don’t know something, they invest the time to listen and understand what our needs are.”
“RealmFive is going to allow us to continue to differentiate and meet the needs of our customers.”
The reality across agriculture is that more and more things are connected every day. Hutchison believes that “the path forward is going to come from the insights from the data – that’s what the producers are looking for.” That’s where he sees RealmFive’s brand-agnostic approach as particularly strong.
In sum, Ryan Hutchison sees South Country’s experience with RealmFive this way:
“We were able to employ conversion a year ahead of the discontinuation of a John Deere product, save the producer money, and, quite frankly, get better connectivity.”