As a young NRCS Conservationist I was required, every couple of years, to develop a workload analysis for my Soil and Water Conservation District. This exercise required me to evaluate my District’s resource needs and formulate a strategy for how my staff would work with farmers to meet these workload demands.
Every single time I did the analysis, I always turned out the same results. In order to accomplish the workload, I invariably needed to quadruple the staff, make a significant improvement in technology, and hope for a miracle that one of these things would come true. Needless to say, none of these things ever happened and therefore nothing ever changed. Since we never came up with any new technology, and staff was always limited, we just ended up doing what we always had done. Consequently, protection of natural resource continued at a painfully slow pace.
This notion of a workload analysis flashed through my mind this week while reading that 17 U.S. companies have pledged to obtain and use 18 million acres of sustainable crops in their food products by 2020. In fact, Unilever said that “by 2017 it will get 100 percent of its soy from lands farmed in ways that curb pollution and the remainder of its raw agriculture commodities by 2020.”
In no way do I doubt the intentions of these companies; but WOW! In my conversations with the food companies, they have no mechanism to directly interface with farmers, nor do they provide any conservation assistance. These food companies, in all likelihood, rely on companies like United Suppliers, Land O’Lakes, Crop Production Services (CPS), Growmark, Wilbur-Ellis, etc. to assist farmers in meeting these 18 million acres of resource commitments.
That is a lot to expect. Think about it. How does an ag retailer begin to scale up for that level of resource protection? What tools will they need to help farmers with decision making? And, how will this solution be integrated into the ag retailers precision ag platform?
Again, so many questions! So much work to be done. Yet when I think of the workload today, compared with the workload of my younger years, I am excited, not discouraged. I know the ag retail community can assist famers with their sustainability needs and meet the goals set out by these food companies. I know the technology is available to help ag retailers provide technical assistance to farmers. I am confident that Agren’s new three-tiered Sustainability Solution provides an on-ramp for ag retailers who want to provide sustainability services to farmers.
With Agren’s three-tiered platform, ag retailers will have the necessary tools to support delivery, sales, and documentation of soil, nutrient, and water management through field agronomists. And with a platform that fully integrates into their precision ag software packages, ag retailers can finally operationalize precision conservation.
I’d love to talk with you more about how Agren’s Sustainability Solution can help your company meet your sustainability goals. Call me at 712.792.6248.