By Jack Zemlicka, Technology Editor

December 6, 2012 — While attending Ag Leader’s 2012 Dealer Event in Des Moines, Iowa, Precision Farming Dealer had a chance to chat with numerous precision farming dealers to see what is high on their precision priority list heading into 2013.

Here are a few of the hottest topics of conversation overheard during the first day of the two-day event.

*Data Management Service: How to tap into and deliver a worthwhile precision data management package to farm customers is on the minds of many dealers right now.

Several precision farming specialists at the Ag Leader event say it’s an area they see a lot of potential and plan to pursue in the next year.

“There hasn’t been a lot of individuals or businesses offering it in our area,” says Troy Strangstalien, precision specialist at Portland Implement Inc., in Cashton, Wis. “Guys see the value, but haven’t had the ability to use it, which is where I think we can fill that void.”

Troy Strangstalien of Portland Implement Inc, in Cashton, Wis., discusses the goals and value of equipment dealerships offering data management services to customers at the Ag Leader dealer event in Iowa.

Another precision specialist from Nebraska says data management is a service offering his equipment dealership is considering adding.

“We’re not saturated by any means,” he says of the availability for data management service in the area. “But some of our customers think they don’t need to care about that stuff, so getting them interested in data management is going to be a challenge.”

*Implement Steering: This is high on the wish list for dealers as a way to enhance their precision steering offering to customers.

“It’s something many of our customers wanted yesterday, especially for laying tile,” says Travis Kohrman, precision specialist at Jacobi Sales Inc., in Seymour, Ind. “These are customers who are already at the top end of our purchase scale.”

Another farm equipment dealer from Nebraska notes that when it comes to implement steering, “My customers won’t care about the price, as long as it works.”

Ag Leader is developing an implement steering product, and GPS product manager Jeff Bentley wants to make sure the demand is there from both dealers and customers, which it appears to be.

“Is it just a comfort thing for the farmer and he wants to know he can expand,” Bentley says, “or are they actively interested in using the technology now?”

*Adding Staff: There is a constant need for hiring and training new precision personnel — a point made by several dealers — at the Ag Leader event. Some dealerships are planning to add staff in early 2013 to prepare for the onslaught of precision service needed during planting season.

“With the expansion we’ve seen in precision, adding employees is going to be the hardest thing to do in order to maintain growth,” says one precision farming specialist from Iowa. “Our biggest fear is that we’re going to have to pull back for spring sales, because we don’t have the staff to support it right now.”