The AFK Sistema agroholding will be engaged in smart farming

The company will develop an IT platform that should reduce costs and increase yields.
SFS Sistema, the Steppe Group of Companies, intends to introduce a special monitoring and analytical IT platform to increase efficiency in crop production. This was told to "Vedomosti" by the director for the development of the agricultural holding company Andrey Neduzhko.

GC "Steppe" is created on the basis of agricultural assets in dairy farming, plant growing and horticulture, which AFK Sistema bought in 2014-2015. from the former general director, and now the minority shareholder of the group Konstantin Averin. At the same time, the corporation acquired from VTB a producer of greenhouse vegetables "Agrokombinat Yuzhny". The group also actively increased the land bank: at the end of 2017 it reached 380,000 hectares in the Kuban, Stavropol and Rostov regions, follows from the report of Sistema for the I quarter of 2018.

The companies of Stepi have already introduced a number of programs responsible for collecting information on various production segments, explains Neduzhko. "The task is to create a unified system that, among other things, synchronizes existing elements, including the 1C system," he added.

The purpose of the development is to combine different processes: planning, accounting, monitoring and analysis of field work, weather conditions, equipment performance, fuel consumption, plant protection and seed protection, agricultural technologies, finished product movements, and safety of production reserves, Neduzhko lists. Also, thanks to satellite imagery, drones, ground survey of fields and maps of agrochemical analysis, agroholding will be able to assess the state of soil and plants. Based on all this information, the group will make decisions on field management, summarizes Neduzhko.


The introduction of a new IT-platform will allow "Steppe" to significantly improve the efficiency of the plant business, says Neduzhko. The group expects to reduce fuel consumption by 20-30%, plant protection products and fertilizers - up to 10%, minimize the human factor. Logistics will improve, human resources will be saved, productivity will increase, Nadezhko hopes. In 2017 the proceeds of Stepi increased by 22% to 10.2 billion rubles, adjusted operating profit (OIBDA) by 40.6% to 4 billion rubles.

Completely move to the platform "Steppe" plans by the end of 2019. Its implementation will help the company increase transparency before the IPO: minority shareholders and partners will have access to the elements of the system, said Neduzhko. The IPO of the agro-holding is planned for 2020, the managing partner of Sistema Ali Uzdenov said in March.


"Steppe" wants to develop the system itself with the involvement of a third-party contractor, says Neduzhko: this will allow to take into account the specifics of the agricultural holding, since no software vendor has a universal solution. He did not name the partner. One of the first large agrarians, the intelligent farming system was developed by the owner of the agroholding "Avangard-agro" Kirill Minovalov. "Today, no program can track down that the tractor driver was drinking and did not go to work in the morning or, having formally executed the route and having displayed all the tracks in the system, did not make the necessary herbicides, but sold them to a neighbor," he explained. Therefore, creating its own program for controlling the agricultural business, Minovalov took into account these features of the Russian mentality.

The "Steppe" has a similar experience: for the management of farms and herds, the group has been using the AfiFarm system, created especially for it by the Israeli Afimilk, since 2009. In 97% of cases, the platform provides optimal solutions, Neduzhko assures.

Developing its own system, the company risks not to get the expected result, says Egor Zaikin, director of development of ExactFarming (a program for farm management). So, for ExactFarming customers, the profit per hectare is increased by 10-15% for the agricultural season. On the market, many offer similar solutions, but as a rule, they work extremely informatively, says Frederik Pus, the head of Sucden agricultural management in Russia (one of the largest producers of sugar). Field monitoring is effective if, in addition to data collection and analysis, it is possible to make decisions on their basis, agrees representative of the Agroterra Group Viktoriya Ryndin.


Investments Недужко did not specify. The cost of implementation and development is estimated at about $ 500,000, a person close to the "Steppe" knows. This, he said, will include the development of the system, the adaptation of existing software solutions for the tasks of the "Steppes", the synchronization of the existing programs of the agricultural holding, personnel training. It is also planned to participate directly in the development of two departments of the agricultural holding, the source added. Creating a turnkey system costs several million dollars, says Zaikin. For $ 500,000, you can create a data warehouse with the ability to retrieve some reports, according to a top manager of a large software developer on order.


The software market for management of the agricultural enterprise is not yet sufficiently developed: in Russia there are only 4-5 relatively large companies, with which no more than 20% of farmers cooperate, Zaikin knows. However, most of them continue to simultaneously use different systems. For example, the Russian division of Sucden has used Vialon's software solutions for fuel monitoring and control for the fourth year, says Pus. As a result, according to him, fuel consumption decreased by about 20%, and the consumption of protection and fertilizers decreased. The company also tested the Cropio satellite monitoring system. "Agroterra", according to Ryndina, also uses Cropio for collecting and processing satellite information, for agrochemical examination of soil and collecting information about the properties of fields, the condition of crops, the settings of the equipment, the company uses its own and adapted solutions, for operational decision-making the company develops a single information-analytical center, using SAS, she lists.

Now Sucden, according to Pus, is looking for one system that would allow making decisions at the right time.