With a personal and professional drive to collect, analyze and apply precision farming data, Mike Houghtaling, president of P&C Ag Solutions in Reese, Mich., has long sought a solution that provides valuable agronomic insight to farmers. Farmers Business Network (FBN) is allowing him to not only gather and compare data on his own farm, but helping to enhance the depth and quality of products and services offered by his precision farming dealership.
P&C started out as service-centric company back in late 90s with a goal of primarily providing mapping, soil sampling and analysis work. But Houghtaling struggled to make any money doing it and found the dealership could be more profi table selling hardware.
“I was maybe ahead of my time because most growers didn’t have the hardware tools necessary to utilize the data,” he says. “We quickly shifted into hardware because there wasn’t a market there for service. Now, we’re shifting back to help customers utilize all of the hardware they’ve bought.”
P&C offers a couple of precision service options. They have an all-in package where they do soil sampling, prescriptions, mapping, aerial imagery and basically everything a grower would want done and more as far as data management and archiving.
The comprehensive package is priced at $12 per acre and it’s a 3 year contract The dealership also offers an à la carte pricing where customers can chose specifi c service they want like prescriptionsfor $0.50 per acre or yield maps printed for $100.
As Houghtaling has evolved P&C’s agronomic offerings, he’s been able to more effectively bridge the gap from hardware to data-driven solutions using FBN.
“When I started in precision farming almost 18 years ago, the dream for a lot of us was to get decisions out of the data,” he says. “I wanted to compare my day with my neighbor’s and then his neighbor’s. The reality was we could never pull it off.
“What I see with FBN is they could deliver on the dreams we’ve had for years. Compiling data sets, all anonymously and then having real insights come out of it. Customers get reports back right away and get some useable information. That’s a big win for us and why we got excited about FBN.”
With a passion for collecting and analyzing quality field data, Houghtaling sees FBN as an opportunity to strengthen the dealership’s hardware business as well because customers will need those tools they sell. P&C began introducing its customers to the FBN platform in March.
“It’s not something we’re selling, but we’re endorsing and promoting through their referral program because we think it’s a valuable tool,” Houghtaling say. “On my own farm, I saw it as a no-brainer because even if we don’t drive any value from the data, we’re going to drive some value from the price transparency inputs. It might be disruptive to the industry, but that’s the market. It’s been interesting talking to customers about FBN, because some are most interested in the data side, and others are all about fi nding more affordable inputs.”
Houghtaling says they’ve already seen a couple of yield monitor sales come out of their promotion of FBN, because customers see they need to have more accurate yield data. They’ve also had a few customers acknowledge they need to have better setups on their monitors because they’re not changing fi elds or varieties accurately.
“I think the misconception with a lot of precision retailers is that FBN is going to infringe on their business and services,” Houghtaling says. “I see FBN as enhancing or supporting what we do. We had some customers who signed up for FBN, submit their data and are now more serious about variable-rate planting after seeing the difference on their soil types. Guess who gets to write those prescriptions? Me.”