Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner for 2013

Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner for 2013

Nitrogen and phosphorous run-off from farm fields is a growing problem across the country. In 2010, the EPA proposed water quality standards that a Florida study concluded would cost that state’s agricultural community two billion dollars and put 14,000 agricultural workers out of work. The EPA’s proposed regulations in Florida were a clarion call for an effective solution to manage and track farm nutrient applications. Being able to manage nutrient levels and thereby prevent runoff increases farming efficiency and helps to reduce or even eliminate high nitrate levels in rural and city drinking water.

Mike Sexton heard the call and worked with the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for North Central Iowa to create a computer software application that makes it easier for Iowa livestock producers to monitor and report their nutrient applications and comply with state clean water regulations.

Regional SBDC Director Lisa Shimkat helped Mike with his application to Iowa’s Demonstration Fund. The Fund’s money permitted Mike to develop phase one of his software, which was specific for the state of Iowa. Once that was completed, Mike adopted the name Real Time Ag, LLC for his product and reached out to his first market segment, farm management consultants.

Real Time Ag is currently in discussions with the states of Colorado and California about customizing its software to their respective state clean water regulations. Mike’s future plans for his product include using the software’s geographic information system capabilities to enhance watershed tracking, to serve as a preventive tool for regulatory agencies, and to help farmers realize maximum yield potential while optimizing nutrient applications.

Using Real Time Ag’s software, farmers can make better decisions—and map—nutrient applications and stay in compliance with state and federal regulations. They can access and update their nutrient management plans from anywhere without specialized hardware. Regulatory agencies see better compliance, can complete audits remotely, and can compare digitized data to better track ground water. Agronomists will have an easier and more accurate set of records for nutrient management along with enhanced profit margins. And community and rural water sources will benefit from the more sustainable farming practices that can be employed using Real Time Ag’s software.

Mike Sexton praises the assistance he received from the SBDC saying, “The Small Business Development Center helped us with our Demonstration Fund application when we were in development phase of our operation. They were able to critique the project and provide additional insight to what we may need to be successful. They are a great resource for our state and for entrepreneurs wanting to grow their businesses.”

We congratulate Mike for being chosen as the Neal Smith Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner for 2013!

Content Contributed by the Iowa Small Business Development Centers.

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