The biggest achievement of “Kusto Agro” on its way toward the creation of the most effective method of economic management is the formation of the management and monitoring system and the use of different technical systems of precision farming.
The head of the “Kusto Agro” dispatcher service Sergiy Dzyumka has told us that his subdivision covers almost all production processes. It receives information from the agronomic and engineering services, and it is involved in the management of technological processes, control, and the keep of inventory records. All this definitely affects the end result – the company’s earnings; that’s why the creation and development of the management and monitoring system can be called as one of the main stages of transitioning to precision farming.
The work on the creation of the monitoring system was started from a definition of weaknesses and their removal. Nothing new was found, so the first steps concerned the main thing: planning, forecasting, and allotment of petrol, oil, lubricants and inventory items. It means that without an approval by the dispatcher service, nobody has a right to distribute any material resources. The issue of material resources takes place according to an accurate plan – we have a complete understanding of the company’s needs. For each technological operation, we issue a defined quantity of fuel, fertilizers, seeds and other inventory items. It prevents from any abuse on the part of the personnel and saves a lot of money for the company.
The company has 12 field managers for 12000 ha. All of them are a part of the dispatcher service: they fill in initial documentation and control a fulfillment of operations according to technological maps. For example, during the plowing, there is a depth control and inspection of fuel consumption by a tractor, which is needed for preventing overexpenditure (though there should be economy). In general, after introducing a post of a field manager, fuel consumption was cut by 20-40% depending on the operation.
One example brightly proves this: when we collected rapeseed, in comparison with hired combines, our combines’ fuel consumption was considerably less. Today, owners of the hired techniques ask “Kusto Agro” employees to control their park as well since they know that abuses are often met in this sphere.
There was much done to a control of fuel, as this is the main object of abuse. All fuel is painted with a special red dye, which is not sold at any petrol station. So it is always possible to distinguish our fuel. All hose pipes, taps, and connections of the fuel system are painted with a controlling dye of a special color, its proportions are known only to a field manager. Each technical device (be it Minsk Tractor Works, Case or John Deer) is equipped with a separate fuel level sender; after each refueling, a technique is necessarily sealed.
Each time the dispatch operator checks accounting papers with a customer’s data so as to avoid any deviation. A refueling operator also forwards initial and final meter readings on a shift basis. All numbers should coincide, and in case of any deviation, it’s easy to find a reason. There are also petrol stations with on-line sensors, so all information can be received online. It’s enough to avoid a gross draw-off. Surely, when there is an opportunity to steal something, our people become very creative but in this case, putting in too much effort for reaching such a “profit” is not worth risking to be caught by the security service.
Another direction of our efforts is a control of inventory items. Today seeds, plant production products, and fertilizers cost a pretty penny, so it’s also necessary to control them. During a discharge of technological operations with an inventory item, a field manager is always near the technique. Since a field manager charges off inventory items, it is in his interest to control that everything is used to the benefit of the enterprise and is not stolen by employees.
Field managers are controlled by the head dispatcher, as well as by the security service and the audit department. After four years of work based on such a scheme, no violations have been detected on the part of managers. The company is not too big, it’s easy to keep discipline, and the personnel is always on call; this secures a needed level of manageability. Although field managers are the young men, they receive a decent salary, which also motivates them to have a responsible attitude to their work.
We worked on the model of the monitoring system for a long time. Starting from the end of 2013 and finishing with 2016, a lot of efforts were put into it. We created technological maps, chronometers, and many other ancillary things. As a result, we developed the basic information to be used for every aspect of our work, and which can be compared with the current data. This enables us to evaluate effectiveness.
It was also vital to secure a techniques’ movement control, as combines were used outside of our fields. As for now, all techniques are equipped with GPS trackers, which can be used at any time for tracking their location and movement. Apart from that, with the help of the JD Link system, the John Deere machinery conveys operational information that can be seen by all interested employees. It simplifies the work of the engineering department, and the agronomic services can check, for instance, running speed during the realization of technological operations.
We have been using satellites since 2016. If we see on pictures that there is any problem on the field, we make an inquiry to a manager right away and wait for a reply, which is to be provided within a few days. As a result, when a problem of productivity happens on such lots, we can clearly understand the reason and, in the future, try to avoid the factors that provoke a low yield.
The security service, in its turn, every fortnight takes shots of fields with drones, and field managers similarly make pictures of plants so as to have a holistic view of the field processes.
Once we had an experiment at the company: one part of the field was tilled for planting rapeseed, and another part was disked. The difference between them couldn’t be seen after the emergence of seedlings but over time it became increasingly noticeable. The difference was particularly well observed on pictures that were as usually made every two weeks. Given that usual and NDVI shots were made, in both cases, it was easy to tell the difference.