Dacom: Agriculture & Big Data

Based in Groningen and Emmen, Dacom Farm Intelligence helps farmers across the world get the most out of their crops, with tailor made advice based on cutting edge data and sensor technology. The company has been an international authority in agricultural consulting for 30 years and is active in over 50 different countries.

Dacom offers both hardware and software solutions, from tools to record crop activity, soil moisture stations and weather forecasts, to irrigation management. “That’s also the reason we operate worldwide”, Dacom’s owner and CEO Janneke Hadders explains. “It’s a very specialized niche and the Netherlands is just too small for that. We offer advice on just about anything agricultural businesses need to know, like fungal diseases, climate, soil, and what pesticides to use and when. That’s all based on our own data, the sensor data and our own predictive algorithm.”

Family business

The company was founded in 1987 by Jan Hadders, Janneke’s father. She officially took over the family business in 2013. “But I’ve been working there since 2003”, Janneke adds. “Even though a lot has changed in the last five years, a lot of it was already set in motion before I took over.”

“In 2011, we made the first steps of turning Dacom into an online business”, Janneke continues. So instead of selling software, we wanted to turn it into a web app. I guess my focus is making everything we do as relevant and tangible for farmers as we can, which means it should be easy to use.”

The best of both worlds

In September 2016, Dacom announced it was officially teaming up with Crop-R from Groningen, under the name Dacom Farm Intelligence. “We were already working together and Crop-R offers management tools and a platform for farmers, so joining forces and merging our two companies really created the best of both worlds for us.”, Janneke explains.

Merging two companies however, is no easy feat. “It was exciting, even though of course you know it’s going to happen. But then you get to the point of ‘okay, now we actually have to start doing this”’, she continues. Some things were difficult, but in the end, we managed just fine and we’re very excited about all the future possibilities this will bring.”

Exciting projects

A couple of projects already in the pipeline that Janneke is excited about: “We started working together with Mechan Holding, one of the the biggest importers of farming machinery in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, to add sensors to tractors to track and collect data. It’s a long term contract , so that’s very exciting.”

“And we also started working together with a Japanese company specializing in data analytics, who will be licensing our services out to third parties too. Thirdly, we’re working together with De Boerderij, an agricultural industry magazine, which is a dream come true for us, because we’ll be able to reach out to a lot more farmers.”

Sustainable farming and agricultural innovation

The stereotypical view of a farmer is stubbornness and slow to embrace change and innovation. But is agriculture a really a conservative industry? “Yes and no”, Janneke says. Historically speaking, innovation and agriculture go hand in hand, because people are always looking for ways to improve their crop yields. On the other hand, to make farmers embrace the new trend of sensor technology and big data, it’s important to make it as tangible and relevant as you can. If it’s easy to use and effective with immediate results, farmers are not conservative at all.”

Part of Dacom’s company vision is sustainability. “But I think it’s important to have economically driven sustainability”, Janneke adds. “With our tools and climate and soil data for example, we give farmers predictions about when to use pesticides and how much they need to use. Ultimately, that results in less pesticides being used, and better crop yields, so effectively more income for the farmer. So it’s both sustainable and profitable.

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