Top 5 Features Of A Good Sustainability Program

In a recent study, 60% of Iowa farmers agreed that their fertilizer dealers should do more to help them address nutrient loss. However, those same farmers reported they were least likely to receive information about the Nutrient Reduction Strategy from their local agricultural retailers, seed company salespeople, and independent/private crop advisers. To me, that’s a disconnect.

If, as an ag retailer, you want to maintain your status as a farmers’ “most trusted advisor,” then you will want to provide meaningful assistance to help farmers address one of their top pain points: soil and water conservation. And assuming you want to help your farmers with soil and water conservation, you will want to provide your retail agronomists with a sustainability program that works for them. But what should you look for?

The following is my Top 5 list of things to look for in a sustainability program:

1. The sustainability program should integrate into an ag retailer’s precision ag package. In my mind, this is a must. It is inconceivable to me that any ag retailer would adopt a sustainability platform that does not have a possibility of integrating into their existing precision ag platform. Ag retailers tell me that it is hard enough to maintain one system, their precision ag platform. If that is true, why would an ag retailer ever adopt a sustainability platform that has no hope of integrating into their precision ag platform?

2. The sustainability program must be able to “grow-into” a full offering. Any sustainability offering needs to be able grow and expand as farmers’ demand increases for soil and water conservation services. Because offering sustainability solutions is so new, both retail agronomists and farmers will need to increase their comfort levels with the subject matter. Initially, a sustainability solution should give retail agronomists the information that allows them to start a discussion with farmers. As this relationship grows, the ag retailer needs to be equipped to expand their offering by providing meaningful solutions. Any package that starts the discussion and falls short of offering any real meaningful solutions is worthless to a farmer. Farmers get it – they know they must get to actionable items.

3. The sustainability program must be robust and provide real-world solutions to farmers. Farmers need information that is relevant. They require a menu of options to fit their unique circumstances. They need practical solutions that make a difference in their operation. If a farmer is in an area that has been targeted for a reduction in soil erosion and sediment runoff, they need relevant information on reducing soil erosion. Likewise, if they are in an area that is being targeted for high nitrates in surface water, they need solutions to reduce nitrogen leaching. And frankly, most farmers need to address both.

4. The sustainability program must be based on proven standards and reliable models. There is a lot of information in the popular press about practices and products that reduce nutrient runoff. It can be very confusing. The last thing an ag retailer wants to do is make incorrect recommendations to their growers. Ag retailers need to be confident that the recommendations they are providing farmers actually achieve their intended goals. Ag retailers need to know that the recommendations they are giving are based on sound science. Imagine recommending a conservation practice to a farmer that ends up having no real effect on achieving their sustainability plan. It won’t take long for customers to lose faith in your recommendations.

5. Any sustainability program must be backed up with a team of qualified professionals. Last, but by no means least, ag retailers need to have confidence that their sustainability program is backed by conservation professionals who can answer the tough questions. Like any other system an ag retailer works with, they will want a topnotch team of professionals that can support their efforts. Ag retailers will need someone that can answer questions like “when should a farmer install a sediment basin instead of a grassed waterway” or provide guidance that a cover crop will reduce nitrogen leaching more than side dressing nitrogen.

Currently the leadership of most ag retailers have stated they want to provide sustainability services to their growers. As a result, we will all soon see software companies rebrand their packages to make it seem like they can provide a meaningful solution. Before ag retailers invest in a sustainability solution, I certainly hope they review the basic features and determine if it is exactly what they need to truly help their customers.

For more articles from Tom Buman, visit the Precision Conservation Blog.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Business Management Stories
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
Nebraska Farmer
Business ManagementA Right To Repair: Why Nebraska Farmers Are Taking On John Deere And Apple
March 10, 2017
There are corn and soy fields as far as the eye can see around Kyle Schwarting’s home in Ceresco, NE, Read More
John Deere Dealership
Business ManagementAg Retailer, Equipment Dealer Improve Service By Working Together
January 27, 2017
Some believe that in many aspects of life, timing is everything. Among those believers, please count Randy Bartholomew, Integrated Solutions Read More
Sonny Perdue
Business ManagementAg Tech CEOs Weigh In On Trump’s Pick For Ag Secretary
January 20, 2017
With President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Sonny Perdue as the new proposed Secretary of Agriculture, it brings a new set Read More
Trending Articles
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
Nebraska Farmer
Business ManagementA Right To Repair: Why Nebraska Farmers Are Taking On John Deere And Apple
March 10, 2017
There are corn and soy fields as far as the eye can see around Kyle Schwarting’s home in Ceresco, NE, Read More
Australia crop
Ag Tech GlobalMaking Precision Agriculture Work In Australia
March 6, 2017
Editor’s note: Reinder Prins is Market Development Manager for Cotton Growers Service in Wee Waa, NSW, Australia, where he is Read More
ScoutPro | ScoutPro
Decision Support Software17 Field Scouting Apps For Precision Agriculture
February 6, 2017
There are dozens of easy-to-use mobile apps that are ideal for every day field scouting tasks. From record keeping and Read More
John Deere Dealership
Business ManagementAg Retailer, Equipment Dealer Improve Service By Working Together
January 27, 2017
Some believe that in many aspects of life, timing is everything. Among those believers, please count Randy Bartholomew, Integrated Solutions Read More
Innovation SeriesPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 25, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Latest News
Farmer with iPad
Data ManagementRegaining Control Of Field Data
March 23, 2017
When it comes to creating and building value with farmer-customers, service providers today have new allies to support their efforts. Read More
Y-Drop 360 Yield
Tools & Smart EquipmentSplit Nitrogen Application: Where The 4Rs Get Real
March 23, 2017
When Illinois Grower Jeremy Wilson hit the farm conference circuit these past two years, one of his talks was always Read More
Hort TechSciFi in Ag: Robots Could Take Multi-Hybrid Planting Ne…
March 23, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The 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
Ag Tech GlobalFarmobile Continues Connecting the Dots, adds Buyer to …
March 21, 2017
Farmobile announced today that Guy Carpenter, a global risk and reinsurance specialist, will purchase enhanced data sets to help optimize Read More
Valley Irrigation 8000 series corn
Hort TechValley Irrigation Now Exclusive OEM Provider of Trimble…
March 21, 2017
Valley Irrigation and Trimble announced that Valley Irrigation will become the exclusive OEM distributor of Trimble’s Irrigate-IQ precision irrigation solution, according Read More
Farmer Brad Hagen inspects cover crops
Business ManagementTop 5 Features Of A Good Sustainability Program
March 20, 2017
In a recent study, 60% of Iowa farmers agreed that their fertilizer dealers should do more to help them address Read More
Soil sampling Brazil
Ag Tech GlobalAn Overview Of Precision Ag In Brazil
March 17, 2017
Brazil is a huge player in international agriculture and precision farming is helping to increase productivity. With diverse crop production, Read More
Web Soil Survey soils map
Imagery/SensingCan The Web Soil Survey Help To Uncover Answers To Prec…
March 16, 2017
A farming magazine recently published an article of an interview of two experts discussing how understanding the topography of a Read More
Downed Drone
DronesOpinion: The Agricultural Drone War Is Over, And They L…
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
Ag Retailer and Growers with tablet WinField United
Data ManagementEliminating Human Error In Precision Ag Data Documentat…
March 15, 2017
As precision ag consultants, we spend a lot of time working with clients to implement best management practices to acquire Read More
Curve Compensation ExactEmerge
ProfessionalsHow To Avoid Yield Loss Using Curve Compensation
March 15, 2017
Planting is often considered the most important step in a farming operation. For this reason, there have been many advancements Read More
IMPAC video
Hort TechHow Precision Agriculture Is Helping Farmers Win Over C…
March 14, 2017
“Your Food, Your Farmer” is a simple mantra, but one that resonates loudly with many of today’s consumers, writes Paul Read More
Brazil soil corn crop
Ag Tech GlobalA Precision Agriculture Project Starts With A Solid Fou…
March 13, 2017
I am a big fan of technologies in agriculture. I have become so impressed with the evolution of products and services Read More
Nebraska Farmer
Business ManagementA Right To Repair: Why Nebraska Farmers Are Taking On J…
March 10, 2017
There are corn and soy fields as far as the eye can see around Kyle Schwarting’s home in Ceresco, NE, Read More
Ag Tech GlobalCalifornia Ag Tech Outfit Releasing Internet-of-Crops P…
March 10, 2017
Centaur Analytics, a leading AgTech company that provides real-time, crops monitoring and protection solutions, today announced it has opened advanced registration for its Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
ProfessionalsTop 5 Reasons Why Ag Retailers Need To Lead The Way In …
March 8, 2017
Smack dab in the middle of Iowa, you will find Casey’s General Store headquarters. For those of you who have Read More
Corn close up
Decision Support SoftwareUX in Ag: What are we Trying to do?
March 8, 2017
As designers, we’ve always considered ourselves outsiders—the unbiased third party in the agriculture world, writes co-authors Kayla Byington and Nick Read More