Creating a profitable mix of products and services is the goal of every ag retailer. Bundled packages may be a good fit for some farmers, while others prefer an a la carte approach to on-farm management. Adding supplemental products and services is an excellent way to satisfy the needs of both groups while expanding your offerings.
Biological products are gaining popularity, in part, due to consumer demand for more sustainable food production. Market to Market reports that the agricultural biologicals market is estimated at $12.9 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $24.6 billion by 2027. Biological products are relatively new to most farmers, so offering them can help showcase your agronomic expertise. Adding biostimulants and biopesticides to your product portfolio shows you’re a progressive retailer in tune with market trends.
Precision agriculture is only gaining momentum, so if you’re not offering prescription services, now is an excellent time to start. In particular, variable-rate application (VRA) seeding is an area with plenty of room to grow. Even though VRA seeding has been around for several decades, it’s estimated that only 5-10% of planted acres currently use the technology. With modern equipment, variable rate planting can be done with minimal cost to the grower. The expense of having the prescription created quickly pays for itself because input costs can be reduced on low-productivity acres, and yields can be optimized in higher productivity areas. Therefore, VRA prescriptions should be an easy sell for ag retailers.
Modern agriculture is built on data. Today’s farmers are overloaded with information and often don’t have the technical expertise to make sense of it all. Offering data analysis services can help your customers navigate their on-farm data and use it to make more profitable decisions. For example, reviewing harvest data with your customers at the end of the season can help you identify opportunities to improve management practices. By combining data with agronomic expertise at the ag retail level, farmers can execute actionable plans to support their business goals. Interested in a unique model of offering data analysis services? Check out GROWERS Guide.
While data analysis services are beneficial to evaluate how plans worked out, crop modeling services can be used to manage risk before decisions have been made. For example, you can use modeling tools to help farmers build a real-time nitrogen management plan specific to a field based on current weather conditions, planting date and amount of nitrogen previously applied. The model can tell you exactly how much nitrogen should be applied based on field conditions and can even estimate application timing to optimize the return on investment potential. Modeling allows growers to plug and play different scenarios to understand how their management decisions could affect profitability. The “try before you buy” opportunity helps mitigate risk before decisions are made.
As the trend toward earlier planting grows, seed treatments are becoming a necessity for farmers. Offering custom seed treatments lets your farmers create blends with the active ingredients they need to overcome early-season agronomic challenges. Ag retailers who offer seed treatments generally use the latest seed treatment technology and can provide reliability, convenience and peace of mind to the grower.
Most ag retailers do crop scouting at some point or another during the growing season, but they may be informal visits that fluctuate based on grower needs. As farms continue to grow, season-long scouting services that utilize digital technology will be in high demand. Offering customized scouting packages that integrate precision ag tools, such as drone and plant health imagery, can help farmers closely keep tabs on what’s happening in their fields. While ag technology is becoming a powerful tool for remote scouting, nothing replaces frequent boots-on-the-ground field visits from an agronomic expert.
Nearly every large ag manufacturer is offering a carbon program these days, and growers are turning to their trusted agronomic advisors to evaluate the pros and cons of carbon sequestration. Partnering with one of these companies to offer a carbon program can help differentiate your business and provides value to your farmers by setting them up for additional revenue streams. In addition, investing in carbon program services sets you up as a leader in the sustainability space and ensures your business stays relevant as carbon and other ecosystem-based markets continue to evolve.
Beyond the expected agronomic products and services, you could consider offering business-management services that add value for your farmers. For example, succession planning can often be stressful and overwhelming for farmers. By partnering with financial and legal institutions, you could offer succession planning services to advise farmers as they near retirement. Other specialized services worth looking into include credit and financing programs catered to farmers’ needs.
Farmers use results from soil and tissue sampling to guide fertility management plans. So, if you’re already offering fertilizer services, it makes sense to include soil and tissue sampling as part of a complete plant nutrition package. There are many accredited labs you can partner with to get reliable, timely data to your farmers. The Agricultural Laboratory Testing Association is an excellent resource for identifying labs that meet rigorous standards for quality.
Offering educational classes or events throughout the year is a good way to stay connected with your customers and is another opportunity to showcase your technical expertise. Consider offering bundled class sessions that add value for your farmers. For example, you could offer a weekly class for 4, 8 or 12 weeks that covers agronomic topics relevant to your area. Other workshops could focus on equipment calibration and maintenance, data management or business-related topics.
As you look to expand your current offerings, think outside the typical products and services and consider other opportunities that may be novel or futuristic for the ag industry. By staying at the forefront of the latest trends and technologies, you’ll ensure your business remains relevant and continues to meet your customers’ evolving needs.
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