Your business is not only about cultivating crops; it’s about cultivating trust between you and the growers who pay you to guide the decisions they make. “If we foul up, it can cost them big,” says independent PCA Dale DeShane. But get it right—become their trusted advisor—and you can win the kind of loyal customer base that will come back year after year.
“Most growers have so many issues trying to run their business, they have to have someone they can trust,” said DeShane, of Bakersfield, Calif., who’s been advising growers in the San Joaquin Valley for 45 years. And as independent ag consultant Jim Mose of Selma, Calif., put it: “I’m not selling a product, I’m selling my trustworthiness.”
But becoming your customers’ trusted advisor takes more these days than it did in 1972, when DeShane first started scouting fields by day, notebook in hand, writing up recs after supper in his office. It takes the kind of instant, connected and comprehensive online system that transforms advisors into the hub of their customers’ operations. It takes a system that’s just as mobile as they are, one that places them at the center of the conversation for farm planning.
It takes Agrian.
At the Center of the Operation
Your Agrian Dashboard—whether on your desktop, iPad or smart phone—places you at the center of any given customer’s enterprise. Organized in an easy-to-understand, visual way that fits a solo advisory or a national retail chain, you drill down by Grower (customer), Farm, Field, and, finally, Event (Planting, Harvest, Application). Every dataset forms a layer of insight you can mix and match according to your customers’ needs, linked by GPS to the reality you’re seeing on the ground.
Just pull the data straight off any array of machines—from MyJohnDeere, Climate FieldView, Raven Slingshot and more. Draw your planting maps by crop variety, as well as your soil-, tissue- and nematode-sampling grids. Send your samples directly to a participating lab, and see your results automatically populate into your dashboard when they’re ready. Add your input recommendations and applications, which are also linked to relevant oversight counties, buyers, suppliers and other partners for seamless audit and compliance. The 10,000 continuously updated, indemnified manufacturer/registrant labels and supporting documents Agrian makes available for instant lookup makes staying safe and legal especially easy.
Come harvest, the yield data you’ll add to the mix will produce a roadmap for next season and the seasons to come, complete with audit trails. You can even use all the planting, harvest and application data to develop zones for variable-rate applications so your customers—guided by you, their trusted advisor—get more productive and successful every season.
That accumulating institutional knowledge is a key benefit, said Agrian’s Jeff Dearborn, who serves as Chief Agronomist and Chief Strategy Officer. This is increasingly critical at a time when growers’ average age tops 58 years and more acres shift to younger generations less likely to come from farming backgrounds. “A lot of the people growing food today won’t be here in 10 or 20 years,” said Dearborn. “Agrian will keep the new growers who are coming in legal, safe, and able to learn from previous seasons.”
In the meantime, serving as that go-to, trusted advisor to every generation on the farm today means accessing the best that technology offers, said Tim Carpenter, location manager with Performance Ag in Ft. Morgan, Colorado. “Customers have a higher expectation level of what you should to bring to the table. They are more technically astute, their margins are tighter, and they need to make better decisions faster,” he said. “It’s important we stay on par with them.”
Your Boots on the Ground
According to Agrian’s Dearborn, keeping up with increasingly savvy growers means staying mobile, as more and more smart phones make their way to the field. After all, nearly three-quarters of Americans over 50 years old own a smart phone, a rate that soars above 90 percent when applied to adults up to 29 years old. “The fact that an advisor or grower can access all the information they’ve collected on mobile in a single, easy-to-understand place is really important,” Dearborn said. “Agrian allows him or her to have the 360-degree view of the customer’s operation in the palm of their hand.”
Agrian’s mission is to empower the trusted advisor whether he or she is in business independently, or works for a large, national retail chain, said Todd Rickets, Agrian’s Vice President of Product Management. Already easily adaptable to solo advisories or national enterprises, Agrian’s NextGen features will enhance the integration between its capabilities and multifaceted chains’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, whether an ag retailer, a food-processing corporation with multiple sites or some other large enterprise, Rickets said. “We’ll answer questions like, ‘How much of this product did we sell to address this pest,’” he said, among others. Using standard indices to determine pests, diseases, and even management practices leaves room for local terminology while cutting through the confusing language barriers that can spring up from region to region.
Pulling to All Together
But too much information is just as unhelpful as not enough, notes Agrian’s Dearborn. The advanced notification features ensure key people are notified of key events without having to walk through every step. Let’s say your Agrian Crop Plan schedules certain events, like scouting. “Observations are made that may trigger a recommendation to do something, which could notify an operations person to schedule a recommended treatment,” Dearborn explained. “A completion report is sent to the grower-customer. They may not want to see the actual event, but want to know it happened.” Agrian’s job isn’t just to deliver as much data as possible to whomever wants it, but the right data at the right time to the right role in the operation.
“After all,” Dearborn said, “customers demand more and more, and Agrian is here to help advisors meet those demands, earn their trust, and win their repeat business.”