growers onboarded


Care4Growing launches virtual assistant for crop growers with Salesforce

You’ve heard of Siri and Cortana, now make way for Henk. Henk is the trailblazing virtual assistant helping growers in Belgium through every step of the cultivation process. He improves efficiency, tracks crop disease, and is helping to reduce food waste and stabilise the price of fresh produce across Europe.

Henk is the brainchild of Care4Growing, an organisation on a mission to digitalise agriculture and horticulture in Belgium and beyond. And with Salesforce, this traditional industry is being revolutionised one field at a time.

“We wanted to build an app to create an ecosystem of connected growers in Europe,” explained Steven Boen, Shared Service Centre Lead at Care4Growing. “And Salesforce gives us a stable platform to roll out more and more innovative functionality.”

A multifunctional platform to help cultivate more crops.

Care4Growing is a multifunctional platform helping growers and partners to work better together. During phase one of its launch in January 2021, it onboarded 1,000 users from three of the largest producer organisations in Belgium, and is set to gain another 2,000 users by the end of the year. 

While growers experience Care4Growing as a handy virtual assistant on the device of their choice, for the producer organisations it’s a platform that gives them better visibility of their growers so they can track which crops are grown, how much they’re sold for, and provide better support to growers.

To bring this vision to life, a small team of five Care4Growing trailblazers worked with Salesforce and implementation partner, Waeg, to design, develop, and launch an app integrated with Experience Cloud and Service Cloud. A third partner, FollowAnalytics, then built a container app to make the platform truly mobile-first for users.

“Salesforce gives us a secure and future-proof platform to build on,” commented Boen.

We wanted to launch a really strong product to show users how it can make their life easier, but Salesforce is always innovating so we know the partnership will add lifetime value as it continues to evolve and adapt.”

Leveraging design thinking to create a user-centric experience.

With a mix of digital natives and more traditional growers who prefer pen and paper or crop-tracking spreadsheets, Care4Growing needed to design a user-friendly app with a consumerised feel to make user adoption as seamless as possible. 

“The app is designed with the grower and their challenges in mind. We leveraged design thinking to focus on their pain points so we could add as much value to them as possible and make it super easy to navigate,” explained Boen.

The app supports cultivation from planning through to harvest. Users can log which crops they plan to grow in which fields and access a vast knowledge base populated by partners with tips on how to grow different crops, best practices, and advice.

As growers need to ensure they use protection products in a compliant manner, the app guides them on how often they can treat their crops, which will help them demonstrate accountability at audit as well as protecting food standards.

Crucially, it also helps to track and combat crop disease. “We’ve set up push notifications to warn growers about any serious trouble heading their way – be that shifts in the weather or crop disease,” revealed Boen. 

Growers can then take contingency measures to protect their crops and share advice on how to deal with disease, or, if a heatwave is predicted, they can harvest more barbecue-friendly produce in anticipation of a spike in demand, for example.

Empowering partners to better support growers.

For producer organisations, Salesforce is unlocking a whole new perspective on their growers and empowering staff with better access to data. The community, built on Experience Cloud, acts as an ecosystem for growers and producer organisations to collaborate better and simplify access to support.

Growers can reach out for advice on crops or for technical support from the app or their web browser, and producer organisations can support them via an integration with Service Cloud, and soon on the channel of their choice, from FaceTime to WhatsApp or mail to case.

“One thing the team is monitoring is adoption rates – they’re proactively reaching out to make sure users aren’t just onboarded, but that they’re actually using and getting value from the app,” added Boen. 

Partner organisations also have smart dashboards to give them insights into market trends and will eventually be able to track crop data too. By closely monitoring a comprehensive pool of centralised data, they’ll be able to better advise growers on which crops will be in demand to help reduce food waste and balance supply and demand. With hopes for Europe-wide adoption of the app, this would have significant impact on the stability of market prices, which would benefit growers everywhere.

Developing a long-term strategy to protect food supplies.

As the solution matures, Care4Growers is capturing and monitoring user feedback to ensure it always meets the needs of real growers, and it has plenty of innovation left in the pipeline to continuously improve the app.

“We got investment from some big industry stakeholders, which means we’re well positioned in the value chain to reach out to more producer organisations, and eventually to growers themselves when they see the impact we’ve had on our first wave of users,” said Boen. 

And, by disrupting the agriculture industry, Care4Growing may even help to attract the next generation of digital-first workers to an industry with one of the most important jobs on the planet – feeding its people. 

“There are big challenges ahead in terms of climate change and market uncertainty. In the short term, we can help people to grow better crops and to optimise their production process, but richer data and a more adaptable growing model will be essential for the horticulture and agriculture industries of tomorrow,” concluded Boen.


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