Which Agronomy Services Are Most Valued?

Yesterday I was in a meeting with Alice Wheaton (@Alice_Wheaton and AliceWheaton.com ) and I got to chatting with her about social media and specifically blogging. I mentioned to her that I had started a blog and she seemed quite interested. So I handed her my ipad and she browsed my blog for a few minutes. Alice had some good ideas that she suggested for posts. She asked me if I had ever done any questionnaires and I told her that I had played around with the poll feature on WordPress. She suggested a post that asks for feedback on which agronomy services are most valued by farmers. I thought it was a heck of an idea and was kind of wondering why I hadn’t thought of it myself! Alas it was not my idea and therefore I gladly give a hat tip to Alice for giving me the suggestion.

So I am going to end this post with a poll quizzing readers on how they value certain services. I encourage responses from all who farm and not limited to any specific service provider – and certainly not just those who have used services I provide. I would even encourage farmers who do not currently use professional agronomy services to respond as well with their take on how they would perceive the value. I will include a question asking if farmers currently use agronomy services or not for interests sake. I have included a brief description of the services I provide below which readers can consider when pondering the poll response (Hey – it’s my blog and I’ll plug my serviceif I want!  🙂 ).

The services that I provide can be divided up into three general categories: Field Scouting, Crop Fertility Planning (through Western Ag), And Unit Cost Analysis.

Field Scouting is done independently and directly with farmer clients. It involves season long monitoring and reporting data and information on contracted fields as they progress through the growing season. Customers use the information to evaluate the potential risk of loss (on a field by field basis) due to weeds, insects, disease, etc. Reports also help customers to plan and coordinate efficient spraying operations based on priority (loss potential) and optimum timing windows.

Crop Fertility Planning is done through the Western Ag system which is also independent (of fertilizer sales) and therefore a perfect fit for me and how I choose to position myself. Western Ag is a bundled service which includes sampling, PRS probe based soil lab analysis, and PRS CropCaster model “crop fertility planning”.  For anyone who has never used the service before, it is a little difficult to do justice to the concept with a few bullet points in a blog post, however the PRS model allows us to plug in and compare variable scenarios of moisture, fertility, and cropping choices on individual fields that have been sampled. By adding in the projected costs of fertilizer and anticipated prices of various crop choices, the model can give you margin / profit projections over a variety of risk scenarios. This is an interactive process and involves input from the customer. This means that the analysis reflects each customers unique risk tolerance, budgets, logistical constraints, and cropping preferences. The service cycle is rounded out by comparing modelled yield projections (using applied fertility, moisture, etc) with actual yields. We call this exercise “backcasting” and this allows clients to evaluate the success or failure of the service.

Unit Cost Analysis is technically not really agronomy I suppose. However being so close to the operations of my customers I can bring an agronomy perspective to this type of analysis. That enables me to be able to consider things like how equipment operating capacity (and therefore unit cost) can fluctuate based on the unique circumstances of the growing season – and other similar nuances which should be considered whenever possible in doing this type of analysis. I find real synergy also with this service and Crop Fertility planning through Western Ag. Our crop fertility optimization can be viewed as a partial budget analysis which, when coupled with full unit cost analysis, can offer valuable insights into potential profitability and sound margin projections of different cropping options.

Now for the poll. Multiple answers are allowed so I suggest if you value two services equally that the appropriate two answers be indicated: