The Grower Perspective: What I Want From My Ag Retailer

John Reifsteck in cab
Illinois producer John Reifsteck’s experience with precision agriculture is deep and wide, but he values trusted partners.

Henry Ford supposedly remarked, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Now, there is no real evidence that he actually made this observation, but the quote does illustrate one of the dilemmas our industry faces these days: We view technology through the lens of the past and not from a vision of what is possible.

Agriculture is accustomed to a world of defined roles — retailers, equipment manufacturers, seed suppliers, and information technology companies working independently, essentially in their own silos, not connected to each other except through the farmer. The farmer has stood in the middle of that mix, attempting to integrate the value that each of these separate entities brings to the farm operation. It was not a role that farmers necessarily were prepared for, or even wanted. It just happened.

That world is changing. Those defined roles are blurring; the silo walls are being eroded by the need to exchange data easily, seamlessly, and cheaply. It means that relationships are changing, and that includes the interactions between farmers and retailers.

So how does a retailer start the conversation about precision agriculture with a farmer? It starts with a self-assessment. The retailer needs to ask himself or herself some questions. How important is it that I offer these technologies to my customers? Where do I fit in the precision equation? And, how committed am I to making the investments necessary to be a successful partner?

These are not rhetorical questions. Farm operations are diverse, and not all farmers will want or will be willing to pay for precision farming technologies delivered by retailers. That retailer self-assessment is the foundation for the conversation with the customer. As a farmer I want to know what my retailer can do and cannot do as well as their plans for the future. This is the place where the farmer-retailer conversation starts. Among the challenges that retailers must manage are the diverse skills, experience, and expectations that famers have regarding precision farming. I do not anticipate my dealer will be able to answer all of my questions, but I do have expectations they need to meet.

Here is my list of what I want from my retailer:

  • Knowledgeable people. Employees who understand technology and what products are available in the market.
  • Help make it easy. This stuff is complicated. Anything you can do to make it simpler helps. Wireless data transfer, prepopulating existing databases, and good software and web design are all part of easy.
  • To be impressed. Tell me something I do not know about my farm in a way that I understand. Tell me something I can do better.
  • Value. I understand what you do costs money. I just need a return on my investment in your services.
  • Partnership. Precision agriculture is not just a transaction between a retailer and a farmer. Do not treat it that way.
  • Commitment to learning and change. Technology and knowledge change rapidly; you need to partner with me to manage that evolution.
  • Collaboration, not just with me, but with all the other parties I need to work with.

Precision farming has been with us for more than 20 years. This technology is a great opportunity for retailers to add real value to the farmers they serve. Let’s just not be satisfied with faster horses.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “The Grower Perspective: What I Want From My Ag Retailer

  1. Use of meta analysis In dealer’s service area to compare conditions, inputs and results and practices. This evolution in computer power and technology should take place within the decade.

Grower Services & Solutions Stories
Data ManagementClimate Adds Irrigation Data Analytics via HydroBio Acquisition, Will Expand to Europe in 2017
May 9, 2017
Today, The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of HydroBio, an agriculture software company based in Read More
Simplot Truck on Wilcox Farm
Ag Tech GlobalSimplot Taps Spensa to Power Advisor Platform
April 28, 2017
J.R. Simplot Co. announced it has entered into a partnership with Spensa Technologies Inc., an agriculture services company based in Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnership: Farmers Edge, Allied Cooperative Link Up
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
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
Trending Articles
Farming iPad
Data ManagementOpinion: ROI or Die in Precision Agriculture
May 12, 2017
The thought of $3.50 corn for the foreseeable future seems pretty disheartening. However, if you look at the precision ag Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision Ag Means For Growers
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More
Mung beans Australia
Ag Tech GlobalPrecision Ag in a Tough Season in Australia
May 8, 2017
This year’s summer crop season has been a tough one for most growers in Australia. Prolonged periods of high temperatures Read More
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
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
Latest News
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
Data ManagementData as Currency in Ag: We Aren’t There Yet
May 25, 2017
A hot topic in the precision ag revolution is the idea ag data will become a form of currency. Many Read More
Ag Tech GlobalSci-Fi in Ag: The Waging War of Plant-Internet Bots
May 25, 2017
Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Food IT Fork-to-Farm
Hort TechThe Mixing Bowl Event Connects Technology, Food, and Ag…
May 24, 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, The Mixing Bowl presents FOOD IT, under the theme “Fork to Farm.” Action-oriented entrepreneurs, industry Read More
Nematodes in cotton
Ag Tech GlobalUsing Precision Agriculture to Manage Nematodes in Braz…
May 22, 2017
As promised in my first article, this month I am writing about some technical aspects related to the use of Read More
Farmers on Tablet Photo Credit All About Food
Professionals6 Keys of Successful Precision Agriculture Tools
May 17, 2017
As precision agriculture professionals we are frequently approached by companies that wish to partner with our organization in order to Read More
Hagie sprayer
GuidanceWhat’s New and What’s Next from Hagie Manufacturing
May 16, 2017
Many were surprised by John Deere’s announcement last spring that it had acquired majority ownership of Hagie Manufacturing Co., a Read More
Hortau Irrigation Management Software
Ag Tech GlobalHortau Commemorates 15 Years in Ag Tech
May 15, 2017
Today, Hortau celebrates its 15-year anniversary as one of the pioneers in the AgTech space, according to a press release Read More
Kip Tom
Ag Tech GlobalAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
Farming iPad
Data ManagementOpinion: ROI or Die in Precision Agriculture
May 12, 2017
The thought of $3.50 corn for the foreseeable future seems pretty disheartening. However, if you look at the precision ag Read More
Ag Tech Global2017 International Tomato Congress Features Ag Tech Ses…
May 11, 2017
The International Tomato Congress has taken place in Mexico since 2006. In 2017 it will celebrate its twelfth year as Read More
Ag Tech GlobalVenture Capital News: Aerial Imagery Outfit Garners $5 …
May 11, 2017
Ceres Imaging, an aerial spectral imagery and analytics company serving the agricultural sector, today announced it has raised a $5 Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision Ag Mea…
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More
DronesSentera Phoenix Drone Nears Coveted 1,000 Acre Coverage…
May 11, 2017
Sentera introduces its Phoenix fixed-wing drone product line, with variants to support the precision agriculture, mapping, and public safety industries, Read More
Data ManagementClimate Adds Irrigation Data Analytics via HydroBio Acq…
May 9, 2017
Today, The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of HydroBio, an agriculture software company based in Read More
GuidanceTersus adds RTK-Based AutoSteer System to GNSS Offering…
May 8, 2017
Tersus GNSS Inc., a Chinese GNSS RTK manufacturing company, released its brand new AutoSteer solution recently. The AG960 AutoSteer System Read More
DronesAgEagle takes on the Big Boys with RX48 Fixed Wing Dron…
May 8, 2017
AgEagle Aerial Systems of Neodesha, KS, today announced a fixed wing drone for the use in precision agriculture that far Read More
Mung beans Australia
Ag Tech GlobalPrecision Ag in a Tough Season in Australia
May 8, 2017
This year’s summer crop season has been a tough one for most growers in Australia. Prolonged periods of high temperatures Read More
SDWG Bret Weisenburger
Decision Support SoftwareMZB Launching New Grid Tool, Updated Mapping Center
May 3, 2017
MZB Technologies has added an additional tool to its precision system. Known for its patented zone-based precision technology, MZB will Read More