Ag Retailer, Equipment Dealer Improve Service By Working Together

GreenMark Equipment
At GreenMark Equipment, two points of customer service are essential — ensuring the farmer’s precision equipment is optimized and running properly, and providing wireless data transfer to ensure data is fully collected and secure.

Some believe that in many aspects of life, timing is everything.

Among those believers, please count Randy Bartholomew, Integrated Solutions Manager at GreenMark Equipment, a John Deere dealer in Three Rivers, MI.

“If we go back five to seven years, they had their challenges, and we had our own,” recalled Bartholomew, referring to Green Valley Agricultural Inc., an ag retailer headquartered about 50 miles north of GreenMark, in Wayland, MI. “Now, as we both started to dig into this thing, we realized we’re going to end up being quite involved with each other (anyway) as this goes on.”

Randy Bartholomew of GreenMark Equipment
Green Valley Agricultural Inc. and GreenMark Equipment have forged a beneficial partnership in service to precision ag customers. Pictured is Randy Bartholomew of GreenMark Equipment.

The “this” Bartholomew was referring to is his dealership’s now close-knit business affiliation with Green Valley, where just hours earlier PrecisionAg® Professional had dropped in to get a bit of a sense of just how an equipment dealer and an ag retailer can offer conjoined services to drive value for grower-customers.

The folks at Green Valley — chiefly Vice President John Christian and Jason Stegink, who leads the organization’s ag tech division and works diligently with Bartholomew and his team at GreenMark — also enjoy the fruits of a relationship with the GreenMark dealership in Three Rivers, just south of Wayland outside of Kalamazoo.

“We’ve just gotten along really well with those guys, and it’s benefited us and our customers,” Christian said on a frigid Upper Midwest December morning. “Jason says all the time that they’re really good at selling technology, and it’s just been a really nice opportunity for us to help customers use precision technology.”

Diverse Customer Base

The Grand Rapids-area territory that both operations serve is as diverse from a crop standpoint as it is craft-beer-focused (“Beer City, USA”!), with corn and soybean growers futzing around with Ag Leader yield monitors and 24-row Deere planters right alongside specialty-crop growers raising smaller acreages of blueberries, organic squash, and other vegetables. Christian estimates Green Valley’s grower mix at around 70% corn and soybean, with specialty crop growers making up the remainder.

“Our vegetable guys have probably been good for our row crop guys; I think they help bring a whole different mindset to production, because even during the worst year their mindset is production, production, production,” Christian says. “The row crop guys are slower to adopt that mentality. They’re trying to balance cash flow, and really production isn’t the foremost thing on their minds — it’s cost conservation and things like that.”

Driving a higher level of technology adoption among those row crop growers — while also retaining current growers and recruiting new ones — are two benefits the affiliation enables. This gives an edge to GreenValley, which competes locally on everything from bulk fertilizer to seed with such big names as CHS, Wilbur-Ellis, and Crop Production Services along with a few independent regional co-ops. Meanwhile, GreenMark is just a stone’s throw up the road from a New Holland dealership, and Case IH has a presence in the area as well.

“I don’t think our competitors know what to think about the effort and expertise we’ve put into our precision programs,” Christian said. “I mean, they offer grid sampling and a lot of the same programs, and they use a lot of the same systems as we do, but there’s a completely different mindset behind it here.”

Green Valley Jason Stegink
Jason Stegink heads up ag tech division at Green Valley Agricultural Inc.

Mindset, however, goes only so far with skeptical and technology-overwhelmed growers, so the value-added service behind that mindset remains a Green Valley/GreenMark Equipment hallmark. Stegink, Christian’s right-hand precision man, describes the relationship rather succinctly. “We go out and support the agronomic side in the field, writing the prescriptions and getting those to work in the cab,” he said, “and they (GreenMark) make sure the iron works and that the tools do their job.”

Hours later down in Three Rivers, in a corner office of a brightly lit Deere dealership that’s surprisingly bustling for a snowy December Friday, Bartholomew can’t stress enough his operation’s intent to stay out of the agronomic recommendations game. Implementation, as he described it, is where the rubber meets the road for GreenMark.

“We help them (growers) get started, and make sure all the equipment is optimized in the field and ready to go,” Bartholomew explained. “Growers are running all of the prescriptions, and at the end of that we start pulling that data back in” using MyJohnDeere Wireless Data Transfer.

Telematics Take Center Stage

Besides stewarding an RTK network that stretches across 11 million acres via 46 towers, and marketing its two-tiered AMS programs to growers — a basic tier which Bartholomew described as “phone support and biannual software updates with two on-farm visits per season,” and a customized advanced tier which is much more “boots on the ground” and charged on a per-acre basis — the movement of data, or telematics, makes up a huge chunk of Bartholomew and his team’s day-to-day.

“When we have to go out to each individual machine to pull a jump drive and get the data out, get it back to the office and compiled, all in a timely manner, it is miserable,” he shared. “With the JD Link Wireless Data Transfer, now those agronomic service providers like Green Valley can see the data coming in, and they know it’s coming from ISG (John Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group) so it’s going to be good, clean data: Here’s the harvest map, meaning they now can write their prescriptions, and they know the field is finished. Basically that first point of contact (to the customer) now becomes ‘Hey, just so you know we’ve already spread that field (with lime) and it’s ready to be tilled under.’ And so they can get such an earlier start at it, because they’re not figuring out where to start. The data just kind of flows.”

Up at Green Valley, meanwhile, as GreenMark stayed busy on its end making sure all of the data flows and comes in clean and optimized so that Green Valley’s agronomists can write prescriptions, the retailer was looking at aerial imagery and nitrogen sensors as two technologies they’d like to implement even further going forward.

“It’s those types of technologies that I can see working out well for us, at least on the vegetable side,” Stegink allowed. “The drone scenario would be the most convenient because you can go out today and check that field. From the big row-crop standpoint? Hmm, maybe. So, we’ll see.”

Leave a Reply

Business Management Stories
GPS, Guidance
Business ManagementPromoting Precision Agricultural Innovation in a Risk Averse Marketplace
April 24, 2017
As precision agriculture consultants we constantly are being asked our opinions on where to invest, and how to strategically invest Read More
Business ManagementBionic Leaves: Future Source of Endless Fertilizer?
April 21, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Business ManagementMirror Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Most Trusted Ag Advisor of Them All?
April 4, 2017
Who is the most trusted ag advisor of them all? It’s a question I think we’ve all heard before, mind you Read More
Erich Eller ForeFront Ag Solutions with Ag Eagle-drone
Business ManagementForeFront Ag Solutions: Going Beyond The Averages
March 22, 2017
He’s flying essentially solo these days with business support from his wife Jennifer, but Erich Eller has big dreams for Read More
Trending Articles
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: The Weather Company’s Rob Berglund on Cognitive Computing
April 19, 2017
Rob Berglund, global director of sales, energy and agriculture at The Weather Company, discusses IBM’s Watson and applications for advanced analytics that will fundamentally change Read More
Corn close up
Data ManagementFarmers Business Network Releases State of the Industry Style Report
April 17, 2017
Farmer’s Business Network (FBN) released today its “The Voice of the Farmer”, a special research report on the state of Read More
Soybean Closeup
Ag Tech GlobalPrecision Agriculture Helps Brazilian Farmers Top 90-Bushel Soybean Yield
April 5, 2017
In the 2016/2017 harvest, the Mato Grossense Institute of Economics (IMEA) estimated that the largest soybean state in Brazil will Read More
Grower Retaile iPad
ProfessionalsField Scouting Apps Boost Efficiency, Speed
March 31, 2017
Scouting is one of the most critical services that ag retailers and consultants can offer their grower-customers. The need for Read More
Bruce Rasa corn AgVoice app
Data ManagementVoice-To-Data Tool Shows Promise For Scouting
March 24, 2017
See it, speak it, record it. No pens, no paper, no lost information. In a nutshell that’s what Bruce Rasa Read More
Downed Drone
DronesOpinion: The Agricultural Drone War Is Over, And They Lost
March 15, 2017
If you are late to the aerial imagery party and think that agricultural drones are the vehicle that are the Read More
Latest News
Purdue Online Course
ProfessionalsPurdue University’s Online Precision Ag Course Re…
April 25, 2017
An online course offered by Purdue University’s Agronomy e-Learning Academy, Precision Agriculture, has received the 2017 Digital Education Excellence in Read More
Nuffield Scholarship
Ag Tech GlobalNuffield: Promoting the Diffusion of Knowledge of Preci…
April 24, 2017
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet John Stevenson, a 2016 Nuffield Australia Scholarship winner.  As part of the scholarship, John Read More
GPS, Guidance
Business ManagementPromoting Precision Agricultural Innovation in a Risk A…
April 24, 2017
As precision agriculture consultants we constantly are being asked our opinions on where to invest, and how to strategically invest Read More
Case IH Autonomous concept vehicle
ProfessionalsOpinion: What the Heck is A.I. Going to do for Agricult…
April 24, 2017
Let’s pause from the daily toils of ag for a minute and start thinking about the future. In a very Read More
Imagery ipad
Imagery/SensingNew Opportunities with In-season Imagery?
April 24, 2017
When I think about precision agriculture my usual thoughts are around the continuous learning about the variability in a field. Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnership: Farmers Edge, Allied Cooperative Link …
April 24, 2017
Farmers Edge announced it has partnered with Allied Cooperative, a provider of agronomy, feed, grain, and equipment services to growers Read More
Retailer Grower Tractor
ProfessionalsAg Attorney: Sorry Right to Repair Advocates, But You&#…
April 21, 2017
(via AgLaw.us) This recent article on Motherboard is getting a lot of press: “Why American Farmers are Hacking Their Tractors Read More
ProfessionalsAgFunder: Clean Seed’s Wireless Smart Seeder is Set to …
April 21, 2017
(Via AgFunderNews.com) Heard of Clean Seed Capital Group? No? You will very soon because this Canadian company has been quietly Read More
Business ManagementBionic Leaves: Future Source of Endless Fertilizer?
April 21, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Sentera software
Decision Support SoftwareSentera Launching Field-Edge Plant Population Analysis …
April 20, 2017
Sentera is excited to announce the launch of its closed beta for field-edge Plant Population Analysis, available through its AgVault Read More
Data ManagementFarm Market iD Launches Sales & Marketing Platform
April 20, 2017
Following Farm Market iD’s February 2017 introduction of FieldVision, its mobile data-delivery platform, the company announced today its newest online Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: The Weather Company’…
April 19, 2017
Rob Berglund, global director of sales, energy and agriculture at The Weather Company, discusses IBM’s Watson and applications for advanced analytics that will fundamentally change Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: EFC Systems & 5 Facto…
April 19, 2017
Ernie Chappell of EFC Systems discusses five factors impacting the ag retail industry, the competitive advantages of enhanced customer engagement Read More
Moo monitor
Sensors/IoTUsing IoT to Increase Efficiency, Productivity for Live…
April 19, 2017
When it comes to managing livestock and feed, the goal for every farmer is to be as efficient and productive Read More
corn field
Ag Tech GlobalPrecision Ag Technology Making a Difference in Brazil
April 19, 2017
Editor’s note: Rodrigo Trevisan is Coordinator of Precision Agriculture at Terra Santa Agro in Brazil, where he is responsible for the development Read More
Precision Application Field sprayer
Tools & Smart Equipment5 Ways Precision Application Is Creating Opportunities …
April 19, 2017
Throughout the years, precision agriculture has facilitated improvements to farming equipment, from auto-steer on combines to variable rate seeding on Read More
Ag Tech GlobalGrowingProduce.com: BASF Licenses CRISPR-Cas9 Technolog…
April 18, 2017
(Via GrowingProduce.com) BASF recently announced that it has reached a global licensing agreement with the Broad Institute of MIT and Read More
Ag Tech GlobalGrowingProduce.com Analysis of Recent Farm TED Talks
April 18, 2017
The up-and-coming generation of farmers, and those following them, will face some big questions as they span their careers, writes Read More