The role of the seed salesperson has been changing over the past five years. What was once a conversation around the latest seed catalog, including discussion of local conditions, has gone high-tech. That means seed companies have to raise their games, too.
Phillips Seed, Hope, Kan., is an independent family company that recently announced it was partnering with Farmers Edge, a global tech company, to enhance the information available for dealers and customers.
Under the partnership, Phillips Seed dealers from Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Texas and Colorado will access the Farmers Edge suite of precision ag tools including daily satellite imagery, on-farm weather station information, field-centric data collection and other advanced decision support tools.
“By teaming with Farmers Edge we can encapsulate a number of technologies in one place,” says Kory K. Smith, general manager, Phillips Seeds. “If they weren’t there, we would have to piecemeal multiple systems together to come up with a similar offering. A smaller company like Phillips does not have the resources to do that.”
He explained that the package offered is available in a way that Phillips can put it to use with a newer consultative sales methodology that the firm is working toward. “There’s nothing trivial about tying a number of technologies together,” Smith says. “This allows us to shortcut the process to get us to technology for our group that would be difficult otherwise.”
The tools representatives and customers will have can help fine-tune hybrid and variety selection for specific farms. “Seed dealers will now use field-centric data and advanced analytics tools to provide specific prescriptions for each field, with everything from the right seed to a VRT map that maximizes the yield potential of that specific field,” says Darin Sothers, vice president of strategic partner management, Farmers Edge. “Matching field knowledge with seed choices and agronomic systems is critical to giving seed a chance to produce the best crop.”
Key tools that Phillips and its customers will eventually have include crop modeling, which shows what’s happening in a field in-season. That helps diagnose issues and determine following-year planting decisions. “I sold seed in the past,” Sothers says. “You would go out in November to look at the field that had been harvested. We didn’t have a lot of ways to answer questions about lower yields in some areas. With this system, they will know exactly what happened on every acre of that field. Turning field-specific data into yield-building intelligence allows growers to produce more with less.”
In the partnership, customers will work with Phillips Seed dealers on their data for seed selection, and they can access wider Farmers Edge tools as well. Details on subscription cost in the agreement were not available; Sothers says they were still being fine-tuned.
For growers having access to field-level information for hybrid selection, combining this data with benchmark information using the Farmers Edge database can help fine-tune management. In the statement announcing the partnership, Wade Barnes, CEO, Farmers Edge, noted that the system will provide customers “predictive precision tools that can automatically adapt and react to … changing conditions, and that’s exactly what Farmers Edge offers. We’re combining Phillips Seed expertise in matching the right genetics with our data-rich analytics to plant seeds in the right environment.”