At Husker Harvest Days this past September, a gentleman came through our exhibit and you would not have known that he had never treated seed before; he was a farmer. In short, he purchased seed from two different dealers (one system set up with several manual switches and dials for controlling the equipment, and another with a touch screen interface and complete PLC automation). He noted the resulting end product produced by both systems looked very similar. An in-depth conversation followed.
It wasn’t that long ago when I’d be at a farm show and the majority of attendees wouldn’t say anything to me or my colleagues about seed treatments or the equipment used to treat the seed. Today, farmers recognize the systems in place that contribute to quality seed and performance in the field, and it’s now common for farmers to come up and ask questions about our seed treating equipment. Most are not looking to buy seed treatment equipment; they’re curious about what their suppliers use and the differences in equipment.
As competition in this segment is fierce and commodity prices low, dealers have had to reinvent how they sell seed; one can no longer rely on long-standing relationships and loyalty. Farmers are looking hard at the value of your product, relationship and their input costs.
Dealers have sought to add value in ways no one else can —through equipment, seed treatment, digital platforms, agronomic advice and other services. And they’ve got to do it better than anyone else with a similar product.
First, I’d like to offer up some much deserved kudos to those suppliers and dealers who create and maintain a professional-looking business that’s attractive to customers. This is made possible, in part by the equipment’s sleek operator interface, automation and added transparency showing the customer exactly what they purchased and how much is on the seed.
This automation provides a level of transparency to farmers and consistency that can be replicated over and over again. You’re not relying on a person, who can get sick, who can get distracted or who might just be having a bad day, and no one is immune to any of those situations. In the world that we live in, product accuracy is not a target that we hope to hit or a goal that we aim to meet; it’s a must.
“With the one supplier, there’s an additional level of transparency and comfort because I get a ticket that prints out, and I know exactly what I’m getting. With the other supplier, I just have to take his word for it, which isn’t a big deal because I trust him,” said the farmer in our booth.
I have to wonder how long that “trust” will keep his business.
Remember: Farmers value transparency and automation.