Returning from last week’s National Farm Machinery Show, many of the precision product suppliers I spoke with shared a generally optimistic view on the next 10 months of 2017.

This industry outlook advanced the perspectives offered by companies at last year’s Farm Progress Show, although there was a noticeably smaller batch of new product launches in Louisville. Many manufacturers acknowledged a more conservative approach rather than fast-tracking technology to market.

Even if suppliers are slowing the release of new products (focusing more on updates and upgrades), retailers still have plenty to catch-up on. It’s undeniably a time of transition for many precision farming dealers with increased emphasis on connecting the mechanical and technological functionality of equipment to the agronomic value for farm customers.

Not an easy evolution, to be sure, but one which manufacturers have a vested interest in seeing their dealers make. Talking with company representatives at the National Farm Machinery Show, most spoke of the critical need for their dealer networks to commit to being a trusted and informed bridge for farmers from the iron and hardware to the practical application of yield maps and variable-rate prescriptions.

In our latest podcast episode, I ask manufacturers to define the role of their dealer networks today and how that will evolve in the future. While each company had its own take relevant to its distribution model, there were clear crossovers in the core expectations of a dealer network.

Sales training, service performance, adaptability, competency and reliability are dealer responsibilities that flowed through almost every conversation I had with suppliers.  Many of those changing roles are wrapped around the objective that precision specialists will be (or already are) the most versatile asset within a dealership.