Digital Ag and Precision At Ag Partners Coop

Aug 23, 2019

Digital Ag and Precision at Ag Partners Coop
By Zach Hanner, Digital Ag & Services Specialist

At Ag Partners, we adhere to three distinct core values: Honesty, Integrity, and Teamwork. These values apply to all facets of our cooperative. Our Digital Ag & Services division considered these values when we created our portfolio of services and programs for our growers.

Last September, our cooperative was in a unique position. Two progressive cooperatives came together as one, and we had the opportunity to assess our services and product offerings. We wanted to ensure we were utilizing the best possible technology and services possible for our expanding grower base. After some lengthy brainstorming, many meetings with industry partners, and internal discussions, we picked a suite of programs, technology, and services that we believed best support our growers.

Our first step was to work as a team to create a working definition of what ‘Precision’ means for Ag Partners. Many different companies use ‘precision’ in their terminology, but what that means for the customer can sometimes be ambiguous. We decided that Precision Ag for us needed to be based on a strong foundation of solid agronomic practices. Starting with the 4 R’s of agriculture, we created our foundation. The 4 R’s are: right product, right rate, right time, and right place. We can use all the most advanced technology in the industry, but if these fundamental practices are not implemented, we will always fall short. Next, we identify the most limiting factor in a given location. These factors could be fertility-related, soil texture, management practices, or environmental, just to name a few. Our goal is to identify these factors and then use our technology to address them at the sub-field level. Precision Ag for us means Site Specific Ag.

Once we established what Precision Ag meant to us, the next step was to decide what technology would best support our goals to provide our customers with the best possible resources. We are committed to being the area leaders for technology, and are constantly seeking out new developments in the industry.
Just as we look to the industry for what technology best supports our company and our customers, we do the same with new pesticide, nutrient, and additive products that are coming to the market. There are thousands of options out there for nutrient and pesticide products, and it can be challenging for both the retailer and the producer to know what a beneficial product for the area is, and what might not complement an operation. There is no shortage of ‘data’ out there that will support nearly any claim that a company may make about a product. But we wanted more than that.

We challenged our industry partners to let us conduct in-house research of their products, and we established Local Solution Trials as our means for testing products. Our goals with these trials are to test and scrutinize new products in our grower’s areas of operation. Teaming up with a volunteer group of growers, we design trial protocols on their own farms. The same trial of a product is replicated numerous times across the footprint of our cooperative and monitored throughout the growing season. Once the combines are done running and the dust has settled from harvest, we analyze the yield data and determine if the product does in fact meet expectations and the needs of our producers. If a product does not perform to the standards that we have set for our producers, then we will not promote it. But if we see positive results across the repetitions of the trials, we know that it is a product that we can confidently recommend for our growers with honesty and integrity.

The ag industry is advancing at a phenomenal pace, and we are dedicated to making sure that we are identifying the best technology, products, management practices, and resources for our growers. As a valued customer, you can rest assured that Honesty, Integrity, and Teamwork will always be the driving force for our Digital Ag & Services department.

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