Glas Data’s farm-centric dashboard, GlasCore, allows you to input agri-data from any source. GlasCore provides fully customisable visualisation and modelling without the need for specialist skills.
Rob Sanders, co-founder of Glas Data, explains how he returned to his West Country roots after working as a software engineer in London for many years: “I was brought up on a farm on Exmoor and could see how the technology I was using for financial modelling could be adapted to support farmers.
“The existing software is very prescriptive. I saw the potential for an app that aggregates on-farm data and supports relevant external data sources.
“For example, our family dairy farm can access lots of data information from the National Milk Laboratory such as butterfat levels, protein content, and somatic cell count, and it works with a company that collects the milk and provides temperature and volume readings. It has support from Kite Consulting on health and wellbeing in addition to our own records.
“The idea of Glas Data is to create a dashboard that brings together these data feeds with additional information on soils, weather etc. so that it is easy to see how one variable affects another on a single screen.
“The software understands and communicates with third-party data sources, which overcomes the problem of different data formats. We have asked farmers what data they want to access and in most cases have managed to agree with the data owner about access – in many cases, the information is publicly available or the user already owns it.
“We offer a user-friendly interface. Innovative data-owners see that this is a good channel for optimising their data.”
Several companies already see the value of Glas Data’s approach. Trewithen Dairy is a unique brand that works closely with its 32 dairy farmers. The processor sees the potential of using data insights through Glas Data to differentiate its products with consumers and feedback knowledge to its producers.
Rob explains that animal diet can improve the taste and nutrition of the end food product. “Soils in Cornwall are naturally high in selenium, a trace element that supports the immune system. Being able to verify this in the milk is a regional advantage.”
In addition to data aggregation and visualisation, Glas Data is also moving towards offering predictive modelling.
Rob has experience using neural networks, an artificial intelligence technology that learns from patterns in data. Rob explains: “Neural networks specialise in predicting outcomes based on pattern recognition.
“Historically, the problem with farming is the number of variables, but increasing computing power copes with this. If you can get good quality data into the system and capture the variables, the system tells you things like, ‘if you change this you’ll increase yield by 10%.’
“For us, this is really exciting. Many yield models have developed over the years, and we are making these readily available to farmers.”
Glas Data’s office is in Tremough Innovation Centre, which is run by the University of Plymouth. Rob and his co-founder Colin Phillipson are part of a nine-strong team. The company attracted seed funding and is working towards a Series A round.
“The incubator aims to create jobs and value in Cornwall, so we’ve done that, and it’s going really well. We’re focused on proving the software and generating revenue. If all goes well, we’ll be doubling the size of our team next year and bringing our (new) product to market. It’ll be commercially available on a large scale later in 2020.”