This is My Story – Troy Prosofsky, Climate Business Manager
July 23, 2018
When you talk to Troy Prosofsky, Climate Business Manager for Saskatchewan, the first thing you’ll notice is his passion for agriculture. You’d never know that a near-death experience was what set that passion in motion.
Born and raised in Hanley, Saskatchewan, Troy comes by his love of farming honestly. The son of two entrepreneurs, whom he describes as “the best parents ever”, Troy is no stranger to working hard for what you have. The family owned several businesses through Troy’s childhood, but it was the family farm a mile and a half from their home in Hanley that stole his heart.
“I fell in love with it right away,” explains Troy. “We would get custom work done from my uncle, and I ended up helping him with the daily operations of farming – anything from seeding, to rock picking, to cultivating.”
In 1999, Troy saw an opportunity to get into the agriculture world. Grain prices had depressed, and grain elevators all over Saskatchewan were closing left and right, leaving a huge need for grain cleaning in the province. Having grown up around business owners, it was only natural for Troy to seize the opportunity to start his own mobile grain cleaning plant.
“I set a goal for myself in the first year to clean 80,000 bushels,” he says, “Instead, I ended up cleaning 250,000 bushels. By the third year, it was 750,000 bushels.”
Before long, Troy had sold the business to pursue a job grading grain. It was a living, but by now, Troy had hit a plateau. While his heart was calling him back to the fields, his feet were planted on the trading floor. He was offered a partnership at a brokerage, but something about that path didn’t feel right.
Then he got hurt.
When you’re a kid from rural Saskatchewan, hockey is as essential as food and water. This held true for Troy, whose family cheered indiscriminately for Canadian teams in the playoffs and had every child on the ice soon as soon as they could walk. As the years passed, Troy held onto his stick and skates and kept playing. Then, one day, a scrimmage left him with a head injury that nearly killed him.
“I had to have brain surgery,” he recalls, “My doctor told me, ‘you need to re-train your brain.’”
The best way to do that, by Troy’s estimation, was to return to school and pursue his degree. Upon graduating, Troy took a job as technical agronomist, where he worked for 8 years. The draw of the job was the ability to get back to helping farmers get better returns for their families, an aspect Troy loved. But before long, Troy knew he was ready for a bigger challenge – ideally, a way to make a bigger impact.
“One day, I got an email about Climate FieldView,” Troy says with a smile, “They were looking for help with beta testing [on Canadian farms].”
Troy, a self-proclaimed techie, seized the opportunity. Teaming up with Josh Lade, a farmer with whom he’d developed a strong working relationship, the pair put the platform to work through Lade’s growing season. Troy was blown away.
“It amazed me all the details you could see,” Troy enthuses. “It made me want to pick it up. Josh was telling me, ‘oh, try that, toggle this’. It was interesting to me to see how all that information was just - SNAP! - right there.”
Troy was sold, and before long he had settled into his role as Climate Business Manager for Saskatchewan, where he could start to spread the word about FieldView and help others experience the power of the platform as he had. The challenge would be getting the reach – FieldView was brand new to Canada, a system that no one had seen before. It was on Troy to get retailers engaged.
“I try to find a FieldView ‘champion’ at every retail location,” says Troy, “When I find this person, I take them out for hands-on training with the platform.”
Recognizing that the depth of features has the potential to be overwhelming to a first-time user, Troy eases his champions in slowly. Troy makes a point to visit the retail to check on their progress on getting to know FieldView.
“I’ve got some great champions, they know who they are,” Troy laughs, “I can’t wait to go back in two years and see the farmers who started using FieldView this year teaching me stuff.”
If that’s true, it would be just in time. With the costs associated with owning a farm rising, Troy predicts farmers are facing real challenges in the coming years as their margins grow thinner and thinner.
“Farmers will be able to see the value where the value is,” says Troy, “We start finding out the most profitable parts of the field, but the platform lets us look at the parts that aren’t as profitable – let’s bring them up. Rather than seeing these areas of the fields that are yielding at 70% and bringing them up to 90 or 100%, let’s take the ones that are yielding at 20-30% and bring them up to 50 or 60. We can start to amend those fields.”
This wouldn’t be possible if the tools for the job were too tough to use. Thankfully, in Troy’s view, user friendliness is another benefit for FieldView users.
“The biggest misconception I hear is, ‘I can’t even set up my iPhone, how am I gonna figure this out?’” explains Troy, “It’s a simple platform, you just need to jump in and get your hands dirty with it. You can use a piece of it probably every day of the growing season. My advice is; set yourself up in the spring, do a lot of trials with it, do a seeding rate and seeding speed trial on every field. At the end of the year, you’ll have something to talk about.”
In many ways, agriculture is subject to rapid changes like any other industry. Technology evolves quickly, and FieldView is no different. According to Troy, ultimately, it’s not about mastering the technology – it’s about helping farmers.
“It’s back to the roots,” says Troy, “In agriculture, you know, it’s the hospitality; it’s good, salt-of-the-Earth people; it’s my family. We’re all fighting the same good fight.”