The cover story in this month’s issue of CropLife® Magazine focuses on national ag retailers and wraps up our three-part series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the CropLife 100. It’s been great traveling around the country this year to meet some of the ag retailers — independents, coops, and nationals — that have been part of this list over the years.
In August, I met Rob Clayton, SVP, Retail North America, at Nutrien Ag Solutions’ headquarters in Loveland, CO. We covered a lot of topics in an hour. In the cover story, you’ll find highlights of our discussion about the company’s commitments to its grower customers and the industry as well as the advantages of being a “big” company that can likewise make sizeable investments in its business, the industry, and technology.
According to Clayton, Nutrien has spent $300 million over the past five years on digital solutions and its data team.
“Data capture, data manipulation, and data analysis that allows you to predict the best outcomes in the future are a huge part of our offerings,” he said, “and enable the grower to be more predictive about the future.”
For example, rich historical data on a particular corn field — what was the rainfall like last year, the weather conditions, etc. — supports analysis and forecasts that inform the grower on what bugs or fungus to look out for the following season.
“Using our data and our digital hub allows us to be predictive about the future. We want to get in front of the pests, and we also want to get in front of the opportunities,” Clayton explained.
“If we’re 92% confident that it’s going to rain next Thursday, we can advise the grower to get the nitrogen out now, whereas in the past there wasn’t enough confidence in the data to make sure we were getting the best use out of the nitrogen application. The more data you get and the more history you have the closer you get to raising that 92% accuracy to 98% or 99%.”
Accessing the data, especially when various parties and sources are supplying it, is why greater collaboration is an equally important part of the puzzle.
“You’ve got to be collaborative in this space,” emphasized Clayton. “We work with John Deere’s Operations Center. We’re the largest customer. We have about 200 of their applicators going over the ground at any one time and they’re retrieving lots of data. Syngenta, Bayer, and others, we’re all collaborating to get the best outcomes for the grower.”
He added that: “Previously, everyone was kind of working on their own platforms and basically owning their own data and that caused frustration for the grower, who didn’t want to go on 20 different apps to get 20 different pieces of information.”
Fortunately, over the past few year “that attitude has started changing and the industry is working closer together for the benefit of the grower,” said Clayton.
Let’s get growing!