Is Technology Kickin’ It at Your Cooperative?
1. Greater efficiency between cooperative staff members.
Agronomists were pleased with how the combination of great data and tools helped their teams move forward and collaborate more effectively. For example, data from Iowa State University and Kansas State University extension departments contained in the ScoutPro application provided detailed information on weed, disease and pest identification. This allowed agronomists to “stretch” themselves further by using intern staff: Interns could scout fields and have pest identification information on their tablets, which helped limit calls asking agronomists for assistance. This resulted in significant time savings for agronomists
2. Structured, yet robust, grower reports.
Many tools generated solid reports that helped kick-start in-depth conversations with growers. The ScoutPro reports provided a one-stop shop of information, maps and pictures. These elements are very organized and each report is similarly structured. Agronomists appreciated being able to print the reports, and growers were asking more questions as a result of having access to such rich data.
Feedback from farmers indicated they liked receiving a paper copy of a report, as it was tangible validation that a person from the cooperative was working hard in the field, even though they might not have seen something that concerned them every time they went out to scout.
3. Greater synergies between tools.
Pairing in-season imagery with field-level scouting allows cooperative staff to locate zones based on what’s being seen in the field with biomass and growth, versus what they are seeing with the naked eye. Tying them together and establishing a correlation starts conversations between agronomist and farmer. It brings the state of a field to life, even if the agronomist went into the year not knowing much about a given field.
4. It pays to be first.
Growers are increasingly interested in technology and are becoming a lot savvier about it. We tell the cooperatives in our area that if they’re the first one on the farm with technology offerings, farmers will tend to go with their product. So it’s important for them to be able to use technology easily and understand how to effectively convey its benefits.
Ag technology is a work in progress, and cooperative staff and farmers are at different levels in their understanding of it. But getting agronomists, intern staff and ag technology specialists on the same page will go a long way toward using ag technology effectively. The ultimate beneficiaries of that collaboration are farmers, because they are important participants in the collaborative process — and the cooperative’s business success.
As we look back on another growing season, a key takeaway for many cooperatives is how increasing the use of technology has created efficiencies in grower operations and helped solidify the important relationship between farmer and agronomist. Here are some benefits our team, and the cooperatives we work with, have noticed — especially those cooperatives that are just beginning to use ag technology applications in the field.
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