Jack Zemlicka, Technology Editor

November 8, 2012

On more than one occasion, I’ve been told by people wiser than me not to be somebody I am not.

I can still hear my grandfather’s stern voice saying, “Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, because you will get nothing done.”

The same advice applies to precision farming dealers who often face the challenge of being everything to their customers.

During my visits with precision specialists, they often talk about how much of a moving target the precision market is and it’s impossible to do it all — even though they may try — for fear of disappointing a customer.

As Steve Cubbage, owner of precision farming dealership Record Harvest, in Nevada, Mo., notes, “There are many slices to the precision pie. For the grower, he needs all slices of a pie to make his system work.”

But precision farming dealers run the risk of trying to eat the entire pie themselves, says Cubbage, when in some cases they should rely on a customer’s network of support — agronomist, seed and fertilizer dealer and crop insurance agent — to provide the most productive solutions.

In other words, precision farming dealers should stick to what they are good at — and not try to be something they’re not.

While some traditional farm equipment dealerships are beginning to incorporate agronomic services to compliment their precision capabilities, a more natural area of expansion may be data management.

As one official for a precision equipment manufacturer notes, dealers have an unique opportunity to be the bridge between the sales and service of hardware with the support of software.

Plenty of farmers are electronically compiling yield data with no idea of how to analyze it and software is often secondary to the hardware sale for precision farming dealers.

But a few precision farming dealers I’ve spoken with recently, see the potential in making software a larger piece of their operation and developing “service packages” with data management as a centerpiece.

Rather than simply sell, install and service the yield monitor in a customer’s combine, it seems dealers could leverage their ability to extract and analyze yield data as the primary sales pitch for why farmers need the hardware in the first place.

As Cubbage notes, growers spending $20,000 on an RTK auto-steer system expect it to do more than drive from one end of the field to the other.

They want more from their technology, which includes harvesting good data.

“No one should know more about how to get data in and out of hardware than the people that sold it to them,”  Cubbage says. “This is an opportunity for value added services at the dealer level.”

How rapidly precision farming dealers embrace the data management remains to be seen, but Cubbage will share his data management experience at the first-ever Dealership Minds Summit in January, co-sponsored by Farm Equipment magazine.

It’s safe to say, not every precision farming dealer is going to have an appetite for data management and some may even bite off more than they can chew.

But for those willing and able to provide a comprehensive software solution to support precision hardware sales, they won’t go hungry.



Jack Zemlicka
Technology Editor