ARA Conference Highlights: Presenters showcase top ideas
Macro trends that May said the industry needed to watch included the global food demand challenge as the world’s population continues to rise, increasingly sophisticated management expectations and the acceleration of technology advancement in agriculture. He acknowledged that technology has helped producers manage the cycle of farming better than ever before.
May shared the concept behind John Deere’s FarmSight, which combines machine optimization, logistics optimization and ag decision support. The concept is an overarching idea that encompasses all capable precision technology being combined to offer an ag professional a wide platform for managing his farm. May showed a video that demonstrated John Deere’s vision of the FarmSight concept. He stressed that FarmSight is not a suite of products but a strategy for the company to build its products around in the coming years.
In the late-morning breakout on Nov. 29, David Asbridge, president and senior economist with NPK Fertilizer Advisory Service, provided an outlook for crop production in 2013 and the likely demand of fertilizer based on acres and nutrients withdrawn during last year’s drought. He said he sees a “continuation of what we saw this year” in terms of different crop planted acres but there are a “lot of caveats” to consider before seed will be in the ground.
Nitrogen supply was a main emphasis of a large portion of his presentation. Fall anhydrous ammonia sales were less than other years because of dry soils. The outlook is for “price strength” of ammonia in the spring. First quarter 2013 imports of urea could be a record. UAN availability should be good because of imports, too. The top five companies involved in nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing and distribution controlled about 77 percent of all sales in 2012.
Alexey Pally, fertilizer derivatives broker with FIS Fertilizer Swaps Desk in the U.S., explained the swaps system for use by ag retailers in fertilizer purchases and providing risk management for pricing.
SUSAN SUMMERS AND KELLY FARRELL
The other conference-ending breakout option was titled “Making Your Ship Battle-Ready.” Presenters were Susan Summers and Kelly Farrell with Farrell Growth Group. Their human resources focus is to benchmark to determine how a company stacks up to peer companies and industry averages. They shared that although benchmarking can seem intimidating, it’s a good tool for retailers to use as a scorecard to compare themselves against the rest of the industry.