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Farmer Panel Stresses Ag Efficiency and Innovation
Updated at: 3/13/2016 9:10:45 PM

One way to avoid talking about low commodity prices at a farmer conference is to explore the methods of becoming more efficient and innovative. 

At this week&rsquos Commodity Classic Convention&rsquos AG CONNECT Main Stage, Successful Farming featured innovative producers that shared their efforts to improve their operations bottom-line.

Dave Nelson, a Northcentral Iowa corn and soybean farmer, says taking a “high definition” approach to farming is helping increase profitability.

“Every dollar in savings is impacting our profits,” Nelson says. “It helps to focus on data collected from many different areas of production such as conservation, agronomy, and sustainable precision tools.” 

Jeff Brown, an Illinois farmer participating in a farmer panel discussion agreed that compiling the data that is collected on precision farming practices helps the pocketbook. “By using precision planting equipment, even with a rainbow operation (different colored equipment), I&rsquom blending data, getting layers of data to help me increase yields. The number one way to cut costs is to increase yields,” Brown says.

The latest device that is helping farmers collect data is a universal connection that allows equipment from different makers to collect the precision information. “We as farmers now have a good story to tell, using our data, about our conservation efforts. The environmentalist get going and they have put us on the defense. Let&rsquos start telling our story better,” Brown told the Commodity Classic AG CONNECT crowd.

Ag Innovation

Meanwhile, agribusiness leaders took to the AG CONNECT stage to reassure farmers that their companies will be investing in innovation despite a tough farm economy.

Deanna Kovar, director of John Deere's go-to-market for its precision ag division, wants farmers to know that going forward the company is switching its innovation models from bigger, faster, and stronger to more efficient and precision. “We are doing this because farmers are looking to pick-up every dollar they can,” Kovar says. To do this, the Moline, Illinois-based equipment maker plans to focus on the areas of better machines, the job performance of their machines and agronomic decisions that farmers face.

Scott Kay, vice-president of U.S. Crop Protection BASF announced that the chemical company will be bringing 50 new products to the market this year. “Mother nature isn&rsquot waiting for the next Stock market report or farm market report. We have to continue to invest in agriculture. We want to focus on helping farmers manage weed resistance and we have a new herbicide coming to do that,” he says.

Innovating through customer insight is a key focus, going forward, for Syngenta, the Swiss seed and pesticide company that is in the middle of a $20.2 billion buyout from China National Chemical Corporation. During a panel discussion here Friday, Shawn Potter, head of marketing services for Syngenta, laid out the different steps the company will use to get closer to their farmer-customers. First step of improving customer insight is by looking at biotic stresses, followed by helping producers get comfortable with working with big data. And, finally, Syngenta plans to help its retailers educate farmers on new products.

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