Agriculture information is crucial to good agribusiness decision-making. But companies who want to stay effective and relevant, simply having data isn’t enough – companies need to find the best source for agriculture information.
The farming industry is a zero-sum game. Companies who want to do business with the American farmer have to work much harder than they did before. Not only do they have to provide the farmers with what they need, they also need to be able to out-maneuver competitors and show how they fit into the farm’s future.
This makes information is absolutely critical for ag companies. But finding that information is easier said than done. A lot of companies say they have good information and data, but when push comes to shove, the data is of a bad quality and results in lost dollars instead of a significant return on investment.
Even though good data is going to be more expensive in the short term, you stand to make a better return over the long haul, which means more business for you.
Here are some tips for discovering the best source for agriculture information.
Find a source with lots of experience in data science and management.
The first thing to look for is to look for a company with a track record in ag data and management. This may be obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many ag companies ignore this fact when doing their research.
A lot of companies promise that they have “data.” But, unfortunately, that term is thrown around and used by people who really don’t get what data analytics and data science really is. And while these companies may be good at lots of other things, they’re going to hold you back in terms of agriculture information analysis and good business decision-making.
If you want data that’s reliable, gives you insights that you can actually execute against and that’s going to keep up with your business over time, you need someone who has a track record in managing and maintaining data.
Here are some ways you’ll know that you’ve got a good partner in this:
- They know their stuff. When you sit and talk with someone from the company – especially if it’s someone on their data management and data science team – you can tell that they know what they’re talking about. This isn’t just fluff, it’s real.
- They’ll show you, rather than tell you. A lot of companies talk about their product. Talk, talk, talk. But you want someone who’s willing to show you their product. That’s a company that’s so confident in what they do that they’ll just let the product tell the story for them.
- They’ll answer questions, and answer them substantively. Probably the worst thing that could happen is if you ask a question, and the person from the company either ignores the question or gives you a trite answer. Actually, it’s worse when that person gets defensive around the subject matter when the question is asked. If they can’t respond to a little push-back, then they’re not going to be a good fit for you in the long-term.
A short-term data rental may help you close a couple deals and make a few quick bucks. But a trusted partner who’s the best source for agriculture information is going to help you grow your business and build a reputable brand over the long haul.
Find a source whose primary source of business is data.
At the end of the day, a company giving you ag data isn’t going to do it for free. And if they are – RUN.
An ag data company is a business. And with any business, the amount of time and money that a particular product can return is going to determine its priority in terms of management and attention from company leadership.
If a company provides data as a side piece to their main business model, then that data isn’t going to be maintained as regularly and diligently as a company whose primary source of business is through data.
For example, a publishing company may collect data on the farmers they serve over time, either through subscriptions or surveys. So they may say that they have a lot of data on farmers and then want to turn around and sell that to ag companies (ignoring the fundamental flaws that exist in survey data).
That data won’t be the same quality as a company that’s completely devoted to managing and maintaining a database.
Now, it’s important to note that good data is going to come with a price tag. As the old adage goes, “You get what you pay for.” But it’s important to think about data in the long term. You may save a buck on cheap data now, but over time that data’s going to lead to bad deals and wasted sales rep time – wasted money.
But if you go ahead and invest in high quality data, then you’ll get better information, which leads to a better strategy, marketing and sales campaign, which then leads to more deals in the end.
Find a company that gathers data from multiple sources.
No source of data is perfect. There are going to be errors, simply because humans make mistakes.
That’s why good data scientists gather information for multiple sources and continually test and check them against each other. The common trends are then confirmed as factual, while the outliers are discarded and ignored.
For example, the Farm Market iD database collects data from a combination of public and private sources. We use our proprietary database of attributed Common Land Unit (CLU) data as our foundation, then build on it through a variety of other sources. (Learn more about those sources here.)
Because we provide data that’s tested against multiple sources, we’re able to provide the best data in the industry.
A good data company is going to be transparent about where they get their data from. And companies committed to providing high quality data are going to want you to know that they test against multiple sources. If they don’t, then that’s a sign you’re looking at the wrong provider.
Find a source that updates their data annually, or more frequently.
Don’t get us wrong, historical data is a powerful tool. Understanding the past is key to understanding the present and the future.
A lot of companies make the mistake of not focusing on historic data. Without a solid foundation of understanding where the market has been in the past, you lack the insight needed to make good decisions in the present, which changes the impact you’re going to be able to have in the future.
But historic data is only one piece of the puzzle. Although farmers are still a traditional bunch, even they have to respond to the changes in the market, whether that be new tech advancements or lagging commodity prices. So they change their operation over time.
If your source of data was last updated a couple of years ago, you’re going to get bad insights.
For the best agriculture information, find that source of data that goes back several years to give you a historical foundation, but also stays up to date so you’re making the best decisions in the present.
That way, you can have the clearest picture of the farm operations in your market, and make informed decisions that’ll get you closer to your revenue goal.
Find a source that focuses on the land, not just the farmers.
Farmers are the core of the farm operation. But considering the farmer without considering the land means that you’re only seeing half the picture. And the other half has crucial details that you’re missing.
So beyond just gathering data from multiple sources, the best sources for agriculture information are going to gather information from and about the land. Cropland data layers, satellite imagery, CLU polygons, crop yield and rotation data and much more can help you understand the whole of the operation and, thus, understand the farmer better.
When you have land data and combine that with grower information, you get the full picture of the operation, and are positioned to offer the right products or services to benefit the farmer.