Adoption Insight

Retailers that sell precision services to growers always face the challenge of showing provable benefits to the potential customer. This is especially true when selling to growers who are new to precision technology. This winter, The PrecisionAg Institute, a precision technology advocacy association managed by the CropLife Media Group, sponsored an in-depth grower research project focused on the adoption of precision technology in the major row crops — corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton.

Among the myriad findings from the research are insights into what drives adopters to use the technology, and what repels non-adopters. Louis Chavez of Institute research partner dmrkinetic conducted the focus group phase of the research, and he shared some thoughts on the growers’ precision agriculture mindset in a recent interview:

Q: In doing the research, what do you think were the key attitudinal differences between grower-adopters and non-adopters?
A: In my opinion, adopters seemed very excited and enthusiastic about using this technology. I remember one gentleman using the word “passionate” when describing how he felt about the technology. In my opinion, adopters are much like leaders who have a vision and can see beyond the present situation. They talked in terms of successes they currently have, but realize that they will see even greater benefits down the road. While only a few would describe themselves as first adopters, the feeling I got is that they are willing to make the large investment now, knowing that they will reap even greater rewards in the long run. I also sensed somewhat of a competitive attitude among this group.

In my opinion, non-adopters seemed much less optimistic about what technology could do for them. They seemed more deliberate and cautious in describing the benefits of precision agriculture technology. Maybe skepticism is a better word. I sensed that they do not trust technology or what technology can do for their operation. They would much rather rely on the methods (non-technological), which they have used over the years, rather than make a large investment for something they feel may not work for them.

Q: When talking to non-adopters, did you perceive any “openings” for retailers who offer precision agriculture services to discuss these services?
A: The fact that this group was willing to participate in open discussions about precision agriculture technology shows that they are open to the idea. They may need a little more hands-on training, but many of them left the door open for more information.

I believe that sales personnel who serve non-adopters need to be viewed as something other than salespeople trying to sell something. These individuals want someone to come alongside of them and show them how technology can help specifically with their operation. They have fear, anxiety, and are very skeptical. One gentleman expressed: “How can this help my operation?” I think that’s the key for sales people. It may even be helpful for sales personnel to partner with current users planting the same crop and work with non-users to help them better understand the technology.

Q: Cost is most often pointed to as a barrier, but is this really the main factor? What else is in play for non-adopters?
A:
Cost is definitely a factor and concern for non-users so I believe it’s important that this barrier be addressed. While it may not be possible to lower costs, it is possible to offer incentives and other package-priced marketing. One adopter mentioned that grants may be available to growers, and he explained that he received one. Information such as this is important to help non-adopters overcome the price hurdle.

Additionally, profitable return on the initial investment is very important to non-adopters. Somehow, non-adopters must be convinced that this technology, under most circumstances, will pay for itself in the long run. The only way to do this is to educate them on how it can improve their operation. Showing non-adopters data using farms similar to their farms and possibly doing tests with the technology in their operation are important in educating them on the benefits. I believe that non-adopters’ lack of understanding on “how this technology works” and how it can save them money are two of the primary barriers that must be addressed in addition to cost. I believe that if non-adopters were shown how their initial investment would pay for itself in lower input costs and greater yields, they would be more willing to adopt this technology.

One other point that must be addressed is the longevity of the system. Several non-adopters expressed concern that what they purchase in the way of technology today would be obsolete one or two years later.
 
Q: What would be the best course of action for a retailer that is looking to improve service sales success to non-adopters of precision agriculture (segmenting by relevant factors, technical aptitude, etc.)?
A:
I think your points are important and valid. I would add geographic location to that mix. Several non-adopters as well as adopters said that software and technology is often developed using the Midwest farm as the template. Those who do contour, dry-land, and terrace farming do not feel that this technology meets their needs.

Some additional segments could include: type of crop grown, years of farm experience, and attitude toward technology in general. I realize that it may be cost prohibitive to create educational seminars for all of these different segments, but it would make growers feel that retailers are truly trying to meet their individual needs

Leave a Reply

Latest News
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100Farmers Union Oil Co. Votes To Join CHS
September 30, 2016
Eligible voting members of Farmers Union Oil Co., a diversified agricultural retailer based out of Oslo, MN, have cast affirmative Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More