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OPN Connect Newsletter 143 · November 28, 2019

HeavyConnect Helping to Make Paper Obsolete for Organic Growers


HeavyConnect is a digital content management and analytics platform for the agriculture industry that works with companies to make them more sustainable and efficient in the field.  

“We work to make the farming business easier for farmers,” said Patrick Zelaya, president of the Salinas, CA-based company. “Our idea was to create a mobile platform for outdoor operations that simplified tasks; what it became was something that got rid of paper.”

Terramera

Patrick Zelaya, President, HeavyConnect

That original mobile app idea came out as a way to prevent equipment failures, but what started as a simple equipment checklist developed into test scouting sheets, timecard sheets, food safety record keeping, worker safety record keeping, sustainability certification, and records for organic growing practices.

“Anything that can be written on paper can now be done in a mobile app,” Zelaya said. “HeavyConnect develops easy-to-use mobile software to simplify field operations and equip decision makers with the real-time information and analytics they need to make smart decisions, across all farm sites.”

Nature Safe

HeavyConnect's Grower Management technology

The mobile app is customizable to the point where farmers can pinpoint all of their locations and record all of their crops and document the practices with a GPS and bar code scanning.

“It keeps all the notes and it’s something that when written on paper, typically takes hours a day, but on mobile, it takes 9 minutes,” Zelaya said. “For those working in organics, that means the time you would spend on organic record keeping, for CCOF certification or FSMA, takes much less time than it used to.”

Organic Ag Products

Organic companies utilizing the HeavyConnect mobile app include Braga Organic Farms, Growers Express, California Giant, Naturipe Farms, Red Blossom and Rio Farms.

“Above 50 percent of our customers are organic with the majority based in California,” Zelaya said. “In the past, all of these growers would have a wall of binders for the pesticides that they use and the fertilizers, and it all needs to be available upon request from a buyer or consumer. With the customers we work with, no binders are needed. All of that time savings can be used elsewhere.”

Patrick Zelaya, President, HeavyConnect

Among the services available on the mobile app are Grower Management, which can centralize FSMA compliance documentation and other field data from all produce suppliers and farm sites in one simple document center and dashboard; Inspector, which offers paperless data collection and real-time visibility; and Timekeeper, which offers automatic compliance with breaks, overtime, and minimum wage regulations.

Ocean Mist

The company sees great opportunity in the future for its product as more people learn about what HeavyConnect can offer.

“We started in Salinas as our proven ground for global adoption of this work tool. The growers we work with have these global footprints in Canada and Central and South America, so they have expanded their usage of our mobile platform to be able to do remote management,” Zelaya said.

“Our organic vineyard customers are using not just less pesticide with their applications but can document the cost savings of over 50 percent in their fertilizer and pesticide spend,” he  said. “This is because they are not doing a broad application but are more specific because of the GPS location of where all of the insect traps are or fertilizer nutrient pressures of their plants are, so they are able to put a lot less inputs into the crops because of the level of detail you get when you go through the mobile app.”

HeavyConnect's Timekeeper technology

Additionally, the paperless aspect is a huge validation point for a lot of the larger growers the company works with, and they are documenting what that means in terms of paper savings with sustainable practices.

“Being in Salinas, an hour south of Silicon Valley, combines great talent in the tech industry with people who for generations have been working in agriculture,” Zelaya said. “The ability to create a software company here for the agriculture community was a natural fit. It’s strategic but also mission driven. This kind of company has never been here before. We want to create a new model for our community.”

In 2020, the strategy will continue on a growth path, and thanks to the product being market ready and market proven, that should be an easy thing to achieve.

“That adolescent stage of a tech company you see in the newspaper a lot, we’ve grown out of that and become a viable business,” Zelaya said. “It’s now all about growth for us and what we have to offer in terms of documenting sustainable and organic work practices and saving time for growing operations.”

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