Ag retailers play a significant role in the agriculture industry. When retailers have a good relationship with their customers, the growers can enjoy greater yields. Of course, getting farmers to take your suggestions can be a real challenge. Often, your growers’ crops are their primary source of income. Changing things could put the entire operation at risk.
Your job as an ag retailer is to give your farmers the knowledge and the confidence they need to make smart changes to their crop management. The best time to do this is during the planning season – and there are a few ways you can help them better evaluate their management plans.
The early stages of planting are critical for the success of a farm – and that means an ag retailer’s advice can be critical from the start. Early planting is a great time to make an effective crop management plan that results in greater yields, and that all starts with an honest assessment of a farmer’s land.
First, sit down with your growers and discuss their yield target for the growing season. If you don’t think that target is realistic, discuss options that will better serve their farm and business. Of course, if you want to guide them toward a different yield target altogether (or even a different crop plan), you’ll need evidence to support your suggestions.
Taking these preparatory steps will help ensure greater success during the season, which benefits both you and your grower (after all, a better harvest means a better relationship between the grower and the retailer).
Conduct Multiple Soil Tests
Make sure you conduct soil tests (ideally in multiple areas throughout the field) and assess the soil’s nutrient levels, as this can help highlight the ideal planting schedule, the right fertilizer, and even the right seed. You can also run what-if analyses to show a grower how different methods or products might affect their total harvest.
Soil testing is one of the best things you can do to gather information on a farm and plan for a successful growing season. But when should you soil test, and how often? While you can technically test a farmer’s soil whenever they request it, we recommend testing about three months before planting.
This three-month window gives you time to do two things: finalize your grower’s farm plan, and better prepare the soil for planting. Early-season data can inform your suggestions for adding nutrients to the soil, planting specific crops, and much more.
Additionally, it’s wise to test the soil after your grower has already taken care of nutrient management and soil preparation. Each additional test tells you how well the fertilizers and nutrients have taken to the soil – and therefore, gives you an idea of how successful the growing season might be.
Simplify Nutrient Management
Soil testing is just the first step in effective nutrient management. But, helping your grower create and maintain nutrient-rich soil involves much more than a test or two. To truly help your grower customers, you’ll need plenty of knowledge and even more data.
Luckily, modern technology is making complicated tasks like nutrient management a little easier for everyone. Many farming apps can help you design an excellent crop management plan, right down to the nutrients in a grower’s soil. Using these apps is easy and intuitive: enter the data from your soil tests into the program, and it will help you design plans for nutrient management, chemical applications, and even pest control.
Best of all, many of these programs help you to show farmers how different management techniques will affect their crops. Looking at the cold, hard figures and facts can help persuade them to take your suggestions, resulting in healthier soil and better crops overall.
If you are building a good relationship with a customer, they will likely want your opinion to finalize their decisions for the season. Being their advisor gives you a chance to use your industry knowledge (plus all the data you’ve collected) to help your grower succeed.
Your grower might be on the fence about which crops are most in-demand this season or which input plan will best serve the crops they have selected. However, you should have all the information they need to get off the fence and make their decision. Inform them of current trends, demand for crops, and even product availability so they can make the most informed decision possible.
Once your grower has made their decisions for the season, keep the lines of communication open. Open communication allows you to assist if anything goes wrong and helps ensure that your grower is pleased with your work. The more involved you are with your growers, the more likely they’ll see the benefit of your assistance – and the more likely they will be to continue working with you.
As mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to get farmers to embrace changes to their farms. However, it is the ag retailer’s job to help their customers succeed – and sometimes, accepting a few changes is the key to boosting yields. If you want to help your growers find success in their farming operations, you need to have three things:
- Knowledge of the industry
- Data on their specific land
- Technology that demonstrates how your suggestions can make a difference.
Visit Growers today to learn more about Growers.RALLY™ and start making changes for your clients today.