With precision farming data becoming an increasingly valuable commodity, it’s more common to find dealers selling services to include compiling a comprehensive yield report or layering field maps that color-code weaker producing areas for farm customers.
But visiting with a few precision specialists during the last month, I was reminded about just how differently dealers approach data management service. One salesperson at a farm equipment dealership in northern Illinois said they’re aggressively seeking to leverage precision data partnerships as a way to boost iron and technology sales.
A precision specialist on staff has been proactively setting up meetings with local Pioneer seed dealers to offer precision hardware training to their agronomic staff with an emphasis on newer planting technology. One motive is to provide seed retailers with a better understanding of how customers are using precision systems to build confidence that the technology is collecting quality data.
The secondary benefit for the dealership is that knowledge of how the technology works by seed retailers can translate to positive word of mouth and sales opportunities in a previously untapped market.
“If that retailer is more comfortable with the color equipment we’re selling, they are going to be more supportive of the brand in off-site conversations with customers,” the salesperson at the Illinois dealership says. “At the same time, these companies have a vested interest in getting their seed placed properly. If something goes wrong mechanically that impacts emergence or yield potential, they’ll have a better understanding of the system and can defend the integrity of their seed.”
On the other hand, farmers may want to hold someone accountable if equipment failure costs them bushels per acre or a prescription doesn’t produce a projected yield.
For this reason, a farm equipment dealer in Michigan is essentially hands-off when it comes to customers’ precision data. Their approach is to equip customers with the tools they need to collect yield data, but not transfer, store or analyze any of it within the dealership.
“Too much liability,” a precision specialist at the Michigan dealership says. “We stay out of it and I don’t have a degree in agronomy. Customers who are using data to develop prescriptions are professional enough that they manage their own data. I don’t think they trust anyone else with it.”
Whether dealers are actively offering data management service or not can depend greatly on customer demand and business objectives. But it’s important for dealerships to define their objectives in this area — whether they are involved in it or not, because as prized as precision data has become, customer trust is even more valuable.