PART 4: THE TRUSTED ADVISOR
In recent years, agriculture manufacturers have pumped billions of dollars into improving the products and systems that growers use to produce their crop each season. Crop protection products are more targeted and effective. Crop nutrition is becoming more prescriptive and tailored to soil structure and conditions for a given crop. Hybrids and varieties provide complex and powerful traits that promise more consistent performance.
But all these wondrous developments create enormous complexity for growers working through their cropping plan for the season ahead. How do these various benefits interact? How can I combine them to achieve the greatest yield benefit at harvest time? In this environment the locally focused, service-centric agricultural retailer has a key role as trusted adviser to the grower.
Technology is coming at growers and ag retailers from every angle, says Jim Shelton, chief operations officer at Pearl City Elevator, Lena, IL. “Precision agriculture, farm equipment, seed technologies plus genetics, dryer and grain handling, irrigation, crop
protection, crop nutrients (including primary, secondary and micronutrients), and the list goes on. Each of these is requiring more consideration than ever from an investment standpoint as crop pricing heads back for the sky.”
“Today, as our farmers gear up to contribute to ‘feeding the world’ — encouraged by $7 corn prices and $16 bean prices — and get themselves equipped with a host of rapidly evolving technologies, ag retailers have become the ‘go-to’ person more than ever before,” agrees David Downey, professor emeritus and executive director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University.
High crop prices along with high input costs have made business issues a powerful driver, he says, as farmers work to squeeze out a bigger yield at a lower cost per bushel. “But doing this demands that they get the details right — complex details that make everything work together. That is where the ag retailer’s business agronomist comes into to play.”
Good dealers recognize the power that comes from being the farmer’s “trusted advisor.” That
occurs when the farmer respects and trusts the Ag Retailer to help them maximize their efficiency in production. “It is a powerful team approach to doing more to help meet the demand for food and fiber,” says Downey
Getting the details right is proving to be powerful, he adds. “Years ago, micronutrients, slow release, foliar feeding and many other technologies were referred to as ‘foo-foo dust’ and scams,” recalls Downey. “Now, as farmers become more scientific and are able to measure and control more variables, we’re finding that little things can make a big difference if done right. That takes true expertise from someone the farmer can trust to stay on top of emerging technologies.”
Getting the right plant nutrients in the right place at the moment they will be most effective takes someone who really understands the uniqueness of each customer and their situation. “The trusted advisor can make their customers, and themselves, a lot of money by doing what is right to help feed our growing population,” says Downey.