In agriculture, tile drainage is one of the most efficient methods for removing excess water hidden beneath the soil. Too much subsurface water and the crops will drown, but with a good tile drainage system, pipes, which are preemptively installed beneath the fields, direct excess water away from the crops, allowing the plants to develop stronger roots within a more oxygen rich soil.

Ellingson Companies, based in West Concord, Minnesota, is the largest drain tile contractor in the United States. Also a MnTech member, this local ag tech company has spent the last 20 years diversifying their business, expanding into oil and gas pipelines, underground infrastructure utility management and environmental construction.

“Our investment, along with early adoption of technology, in all business lines differentiates us from our competitors,” said Zulfikar Ali, Vice President of Technology at Ellingson. “Our approach to technology is to first develop small feature sets based on our internal experience and knowledge. Next, we have our beta customers test out the feature and give us feedback. The feedback is continuous, so it allows us to make sure that the features we are developing are solving a specific problem for our growers.”

As VP of technology, Ali uses this continuous feedback to improve the development and execution of Ellingson’s internal and external technical strategies. Their goal, he said, is to use technology as one of their competitive advantages.

Harvesting data
So how do you use tech to improve agriculture? One Ellingson approach is to start with soil data. From there they provide their growers with tile maps, adding in yield and farm data to create actionable water management insights for their customers, all of which can be easily accessed through their precision agricultural platform, the Ellingson App.

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“Effective use of water in agriculture is one of the key challenges we need to solve to continue to meet our future food demands,” Ali said. “Our ‘boots on the ground’ experience and iterative approach is allowing us to develop our water management precision Ag platform in collaboration with growers who are the ultimate end users.”

Growing together
For the last 50 years, Ellingson has established itself as a significant player in the world of agriculture water management, and a large part of that success comes down to the company’s eagerness to integrate new tech solutions and expand their industry partnerships.

Just this week, Ellingson signed an API collaboration contract with John Deere, now enabling their customers to seamlessly input their yield and machine data into the Ellingson app.

This will allow us to further evolve our water management machine learning platform,” Ali said proudly. “I am very excited to share that we will be market ready with the new branding by Q1 of 2022.”

“With the help of machine learning, we will continue to develop our water management insights, which will help in effective farm water management,” he continued. “Due to our niche industry experience, we would like to be able to collaborate with other precision Ag platforms. Including additional data from other sources will also help us to continue to evolve our water management insights tool.”

Companies, organizations and even individuals interested in working with Ellingson on this endeavor are encouraged to connect with Ali at