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Building a sustainable agricultural supply chain on Google Cloud

August 24, 2022
Camille Weber Grade

CMO, Bushel

Randy Gerhold

CTO, Bushel

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Working to put food on all of our tables, today’s farmers are facing a higher amount of instability from input supply chain issues to weather patterns. Adding to this challenge are problems farmers face when trying to correctly time grain purchases, sales and transport. Farmers have always been stewards of the land, but now the demand for sustainable products has them needing to better prove their regenerative practices. 

At Bushel, we understand these problems can’t be solved overnight or by a single company. We focus on empowering agribusinesses and farmers to work even more closely together to build a more sustainable agricultural supply chain by rapidly responding to market changes. With Bushel, farmers can track market prices in real time, instantly buy and sell grain, analyze inventory and transactions, and securely share verified information with grain operators and other producers. We provide the digital tools to streamline how farmers buy and sell commodities throughout the agricultural industry’s supply chain to help address market inefficiencies that can lead to waste, and have the information and resources to help them flex and adapt as complexity increases in farming operations. 

Approximately 40% to 50% of all U.S. grain transactions now pass through the Bushel platform. As we continue to grow, Bushel continues to focus on what digital tools can support each point in the supply chain. Many focus on the first mile at the farm or last mile at the store. But Bushel is focused on modernizing the middle where grain purchasing and processing sit. We aim to help local grain industries and stabilize regional agricultural supply chains.

Starting with a simple mobile app; now scaling into an agricultural ecosystem    

Bushel began its journey in 2017 as a small-scale platform for farmers that delivered grain contracts, cash bids, and receipts. As Bushel evolved into a comprehensive agricultural ecosystem, we realized we needed knowledgeable technology partners to help us rapidly scale while saving time and administrative costs. That’s why we started partnering with the Google for Startups Cloud Program to get support from Google and work with Google Cloud Managed Services partner, DoiT International to help support our use of GKE and create a multi-regional deployment as well as migrate our CUDs to new Compute Engine families and continue to optimize our footprint. We’ll also use DoiT's Flexsave technology to reduce the management overhead of CUDs in the future. 

In just one year, we expanded to over 1,200 live grain receiving locations and quickly grew our services portfolio with electronic signature capabilities, commodity balances, and web development. Because that relationship between farmer and agribusiness is so important, we provide more than 200 grain companies with white-labled digital experiences so each farmer sees their local grain facility they do business with on both desktop and mobile. To further our extension into the digital infrastructure of agriculture, we subsequently acquired GrainBridge and FarmLogs to help farmers handle specific jobs and tasks, and provide the needed insights to improve their business operations. Over 2,000 grain receiving locations across the United States and Canada now use Bushel products. We accomplished all this on Google Cloud. 

We leverage the secure-by-design infrastructure of Google Cloud to protect millions of financial transactions and keep sensitive customer data safe. Our data is processed and stored in Google’s secure data centers, which maintain adherence to a number of compliance frameworks. We utilize Google Kubernetes Engine extensively as it reduces operational overhead and offers auto scaling up to 15,000 nodes. 

Database provisioning, storage capacity management, and other time-consuming tasks are automated with our Cloud SQL usage. Query Insights for Cloud SQL streamlines database observability and seamlessly integrates with existing apps and Google Cloud services such as GKE and BigQuery

Empowering farmers and agribusinesses in North America 

The Google Cloud Account Team had been instrumental in helping Bushel build an expansive agricultural platform that powers APIs, apps, websites, and digital solutions. Google’s startup experts are incredibly responsive, with deep technical knowledge that can’t be found elsewhere. Google Cloud also has provided us credits to explore new ways of analyzing the vast amounts of data we generate, verify, and transfer with solutions such as BigQuery and Pub/Sub.

With BigQuery, we can run analytics at scale with 26%–34% lower three-year TCO than cloud data warehouse alternatives. BigQuery delivers actionable insights on a highly secure and scalable platform, includes built-in machine learning capabilities, and integrates with Pub/Sub to ingest and stream analytic events via Dataflow.

With Bushel, farmers across North America are rapidly responding to sudden market changes by tracking grain prices in real time and instantly buying and selling crops. We see a future where this business information becomes insights - where a farmer can not just know where to sell their grain, but when to sell. The burden right now to engage with carbon markets is high, full of paper-based binders and verification forms. We see a world where farming practices recorded digitally can be permissioned along the supply chain for a better picture of how our food is grown. 

With the Bushel platform, millions of farmers around the world will have the digital tools to modernize local grain industries, build more sustainable agricultural supply chains, and help to address global food inequity.

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