CFQ: Websites may be Fertile Link for Building Relationships
New and recently revamped fertilizer industry websites offer ag retailers fresh avenues for connecting with customers. Such sites are places where farmers can dig deeper into crop nutrition and seek information about enhancing yields in partnership with retailers and crop consultants. Here's a look at three sites that aim to make the task easier.
The Mosaic Company launched its CropNutrition initiative in July; an integrated campaign to explain technical and scientific aspects of soil fertility vital to achieving maximum yield.
"We understand there are times retailers need technical information about soil fertility that before may not have been readily available," said Kyle Freeman, Mosaic manager of new product development. "CropNutrition.com is designed to fill that void. There is a constant flow of new research that can be overwhelming. This site can help by not only making that information easier to understand, but also by boiling it down to details that can be applied to customer fields."
CropNutrition.com also encourages discussion surrounding the importance of a balanced crop nutrition plan and can appeal to varying levels of need and interest. The site includes:
- A series of 60-second videos explaining specific fertility issues.
- The Agronomy Resource Center, which features Mosaic agronomists blogging on issues that can help retailers learn more about soil fertility issues and trends affecting yield.
- An interactive Periodic Table of Crop Nutrients, which allows users to click on one of 17 essential nutrients to learn the basics, or dig deeper to learn about the intricacies.
"The interactive periodic table found through the 'Nutrient Knowledge' tab is color coded for ease of use and understanding. It presents a simpler way to talk about nutrients," Freeman said. "The 'Library' is searchable by topic and subtopic. For instance, let’s say a customer wants to talk about key considerations related to micronutrient application. A retailer, in preparing for that conversation, could visit the library, click on micronutrients, and narrow the results to find information applicable to the conversation, and possibly, to the customer's acreage."
Freeman says retailers may also find information to explain to a farmer the role sulfur plays, for example, along with photos of what sulfur deficiency looks like. As questions arise during a discussion, retailer and farmer can access additional information to answer them.
"CropNutrition.com replaces our Back-to-Basics website with a more user-friendly feel and the opportunity to break information into smaller, digestible pieces," Freeman said. “The site is intuitive and contains audio and video elements. Social media will be a key component to sharing information available on the site."
Freeman says they will continue to add new research, boiling down peer-reviewed scientific articles to three or four key points, along with updating blog and current event posts.
PotashCorp's new online resource, www.potashcorp-ekonomics.com, provides analysis of soil science data and agronomic information, along with interactive calculators, video, infographics and other tools to help farmers make better management decisions.
"The easy-to-understand site helps educate farmers about the benefits of fertilizers—specifically potash—and what it can deliver to their bottom lines," said Robert Mullen, PotashCorp's director of agronomy. "Since we are a fertilizer producer with no retail sales, our domestic product goes to wholesalers and retailers. Part of the reason for creating this site was to communicate with farmers. We want them to have relevant information in a concise, accessible format."
Content is to help growers but can be used by agronomists/consultants assisting farmers. Features of the website include:
- Nutrient ROI Calculator: allows farmers to calculate potential increase in yield and profit related to adequate potash and phosphate applications.
- Growing Degree Day Calculator: allows farmers to determine crop development for their locations and to use the tool to help scout for some insect pests.
- Rainfall Tracker: provides access to rainfall data for a specific region.
- Nutrient Removal Calculator: allows farmers to understand the amount of crop nutrients removed following harvest and what may be needed to maintain optimum yield potential.
"A retailer might sit down with a customer to find information about how to use nutrients and the interaction of nutrients. We have a pdf presentation the retailer can download and share with the farmer," Mullen said. "Another good example is use of the calculators in scouting programs. A retailer can use the Growing Degree Day Calculator to check timing for scouting. The Nutrient ROI Calculator, based on soil tests, can calculate potential average return; a first in the industry."
Mullen says feedback to date has been positive. Retailers are finding the tool can help fill in customer conversations. Good social media sharing helps spread the word.
"During the next eight to 10 months, we plan to expand our tools to other geographies and crops. Our initial efforts focus on Midwest corn and soybeans. We were able to build those models first," he said. "The ROI Calculator will expand to the Southeast and to cotton and wheat."
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) has developed a website to provide nutrient stewardship outreach to the fertilizer industry, farmers and both ag and non-ag stakeholders, focused on the 4Rs, right source, right rate, right time and right place. The site, www.nutrientstewardship.com, contains educational content in various media formats, access to materials that can be used for outreach, news and information about 4R activities and actions related to 4Rs.
"Key sections of the site include the 4R news section, which can be used to stay up to date on 4R events and educational activities, as well as see new informational pieces that support the use and implementation of the 4Rs," said Lara Moody, TFI director of stewardship programs. "There also is a section on 'Implement the 4Rs,' which contains easy-to-read factsheets summarizing a host of fertilizer best management practices that can be used when implementing the 4Rs."
Moody says the 4R training page has been recently updated and will provide access to a variety of training materials intended for use by retailers and stakeholders. The site includes a section highlighting 4R Partners. Retailers that become a 4R Partner via the site have access to a host of materials and resources that can be used to provide outreach to customers, employees and stakeholders. Many of the items accessible to 4R Partners are available for co-branding.
"We have a page highlighting 4R Advocates; farmer/retailer pairs doing a great job implementing the 4Rs. The section contains details about them, including videos," said Moody. "We have a YouTube channel (1fertilizer) where we post videos, and will definitely add access to that from the website. We are always adding partners, factsheets and news."
Moody encourages retailers to stay updated on the 4Rs through TFI's 4R Quarterly Newsletter. The newsletter is used to highlight new website items and to draw attention to key activities. 4R activities also are found via Twitter (@4Rnutrients).