• Agriculture Technology, Seed

Put Your Ag Tech and Data Partners To the Test

Grain bins with man walking across walkway
I’ve heard a lot lately about digital platforms promising cheap, easy product sourcing and purchasing, with all the data and and insights for free. But what I demand to see is actual performance before promises. Do your due diligence and ask your potential partners the tough questions.  
You’re about to make large-scale investments on seed and inputs for 2019. So before you make those decisions, here are the five things you should ask a partner.
  • How is the data validated and do potential partners provide an explanation for the results?
  • How have those inputs performed in conditions like yours? 
  • Can they explain how these tools can help drive more predictable – and potentially profitable – outcomes?
  • What is their process for testing products, and how high are their measurement standards?
  • Are they able to explain their vision for the next generation of their tools and products?
The data: Is it valid and valuable?
Data is on everyone’s minds as we head into harvest and plan for next year. But while both startups and existing companies claim to provide more information for free that will deliver the same value, we need to ask about the quality and integrity of the data — whether it’s from companies or from your own fields and operations.
Data from the Answer Plot® program isn’t theoretical. It’s replicated in the real conditions you farm in at nearly 200 locations around the U.S. That local, regional and national replication has generated more than 6 million data points, and each data point has been statistically analyzed so we can deliver reliable, consistent insights that will help improve farm profitability.
The technology: Can it really do what it says?  
New technologies emerge every day. But trust takes time and replicatable data to add real value to decision making. Our ag tech tools are backed by the strength of seven years of in-market optimization, a database that can’t be matched and a team of technology managers that works tirelessly to bring that value to reality every day. At the end of the day, it’s how we help to facilitate seed and input selections and management strategies will drive to a profitable end-game.  
But let’s be honest — you’d probably rather hear that from a few farmers, right?

“We’re always trying to figure out the best positioning and the best timing for our inputs and eliminate applications that aren’t necessary, and the [R7® Field Forecasting] tool helped us with that,” says western Minnesota farmer Leigh Barry, who also credited his technology manager, Kelsey VanOverbeke, for her local expertise. “I listen to Kelsey and trust her opinion. We figure out what makes the most sense for the farm and if we can improve our process. We try different things all the time.”
Another farmer, Addison Yarbro in Tennessee, says the R7 Field Forecasting Tool helped him save water and nitrogen inputs, as he explains in this article and video.
“The hundreds of replications they do in soil types like mine before that technology hits my field is very helpful,” says Dave Armstrong of Nebraska. “The Answer Plot program has helped me increase my profitability and return on investments.”
Michael Coderman of Iowa says, “Times are changing so fast in today’s world that you’ve got to stay on top of new technology; otherwise, you’re going to lose an opportunity. I see new and different opportunities at Answer Plot events and try to implement them to make better decisions.”
Hear from more farmers who rely on the Answer Plot program and local experts for technology advancements here.
The products: How can you be confident about product development, performance and claims?
Our industry is filled with hardworking people trying to get products that work to farmers who need them. But sometimes corners get cut and you need to understand how your partner brings products to market. How long are products in development? How does a company decide they’re good enough to go to market with? How can you be confident about the claims they make?
Not all WinField United research takes place in a field. The WinField United Innovation Center in River Falls, Wis., is home to our Spray Analysis System, a state-of-the-art wind tunnel and technology. Here, we test virtually every nozzle type with every input and every condition you can simulate. We also conduct research in controlled environment growth chambers, chemistry labs, seed care labs and plant performance labs. It’s how we make sure that before any inputs even get to the Answer Plot program for more research, they’re already proven in the lab at standards others don’t hold themselves to.
The future: Are they investing in advancements?
We may have been around for about 100 years, but in the five years I’ve been here, I’ve seen the industry’s brightest constantly pushing for new and trusted technologies, in our elite retail network and in the field. We constantly invest in finding the solutions necessary for the road ahead. Because we know that when farmers have a problem to solve, when our industry gets turned upside down by regulations, we make sure we have solutions ready to go. That’s why we’re excited to preview that we’ll be adding a second wind tunnel this winter that is double the size of our existing system in the Innovation Center to further our commitment to solving the unknown problems ahead.  
As we keep innovating, you can be confident that our standards are high. In fact, we don’t act on data unless it meets a 95 percent confidence interval, which is higher than the 90 percent many universities use.
What should you do now?
We’re serious when we say you need to question your retail partners.  Ask your local WinField United retailer to back up their seed and input recommendations. They’ll show you how they use technology like the R7 Tool and data from the Answer Plot program to formulate the most precise recommendations in order to drive the bottom line for you. So when you ask if we can prove it, we’ll answer with confidence that we can, all day, every day.
Find your local WinField United retailer today.