The majority of cropland in the U.S. uses some kind of crop rotation practice. While this improves the sustainability of the land and production benefits, it does mean that farmers aren’t growing the same crops year over year.
Agribusiness can’t assume that their farmers are growing the same crops this year as last year. And that has a direct impact on the revenue of an ag company.
Fortunately, crop rotation data can provide valuable insights into what farmers are growing and how the individual farmer’s rotation practice works. Here are some tips for using that data in your business strategy.
The benefits of crop rotation
Some farmers are avoiding crop rotation due to the advancements in chemicals that artificially boost nutrients in the soil. But like we said before, that’s a small number.
Most farmers are rotating crops. Here are some of the benefits crop rotation gives to the industry:
- Keeping up with consumer demands. For starters, crop rotation is a necessity for organic farmers – because it’s necessary for federal certification. Since many consumers are demanding organic, the demand for crop rotation among growers is going up as well.
- Long-term sustainability of the land. Growing the same crops year after year depletes the soil of nutrients. In particular, row crops leech nitrogen out of the soil, which is vital for plant growth. Rotating crops allows those nutrients to replenish. Legumes are known as “nitrogen fixing” crops because they draw nitrogen out of the air and concentrate it in nodules in their roots. When the roots are plowed up, that nitrogen is freed for use by the next year’s row crops.
- Preventing the spread of pests and pathogens. By varying what is planted in a field, or even letting the field lie fallow, pests that rely on the single crop are driven away to find other food sources.
Use crop rotation data in your annual revenue strategy
Crops are the heart of the farm operation. If your farmer is rotating crops each year, it’s a good idea to know that so you can help them adequately prepare.
For example, if your company specializes in products necessary to growing field corn, you can expect that farms will alternate between corn and soy year over year, so expect your revenues to shift accordingly. Here are some ways to stay ahead of the game:
- Don’t expect any one product to perform consistently year-over-year. While you definitely want your agricultural business as a whole to grow year over year, crop rotation means that the source of that revenue is going to shift each year. One year, you’ll spend more on corn, while the other will be on soy. And that’s okay – just expect that when building your strategy.
- Find new customers for each product each year. While some farmers are rotating off of corn this year, others may be rotating onto soy as well. Find out who those farmers are to make up for the current customers that you’re losing for this season.
The ag market is increasingly competitive, with many agribusinesses vying for a limited number of acres and a consolidating field of growers. That means that your business has to be further in tune with the farm operation and more poignant with the kinds of products and services you offer.
Crop rotation data can help you plan the kinds of products to offer in the coming season, predict how farmers are going to respond to those product offers and, ultimately, how much revenue you can forecast from each product.
Arm your revenue team with crop rotation data
Marketers and salespeople should always know as much about the farm operation as possible before they even start reaching out to farmers. It’s critical to effective messaging or a meaningful conversation to know what the farmer is growing this year and how it’s performed in previous years.
But crop rotation data isn’t just about looking to the past. It’s also about looking to the future. It’s about knowing the past performance of the operation so you can look to the future and predict what’s going to happen many years into the future.
If a farmer is doing well, you want to help that farmer do even better. And if a farmer isn’t doing well, you want to be the one to help turn that operation around.
Crop rotation data can help you start the conversation as an expert. That way, you’re providing the farmer advice on what to do next, building a relationship of trust that’ll last far beyond any one product purchase.
And of course you’ll learn details of the operation over the course of the relationship. But having crop rotation data gives you the framework for understanding the whole of the operation. This is key to establishing a long-term relationship – and a hopefully profitable relationship, to both sides – with the farmer.