Growth Points: Precision, the stewardship factor
“We’ve been fortunate that some of these growers have been involved with variable-rate fertilizer from the beginning in the early ‘90s,” he said. “They are clear on the benefits to their operations.”
The 4Rs effort – right source, right rate, right time, right place – provided another reason to advance precision services with customers.
“Once 4Rs got going it fit into the kind of thing we were doing with our growers," he said. The Waterloo Farm Center sent information to customers, trying to connect with as many land owners as they could as well.
“The algae bloom has been in the news for several years up here, so the growers know about it. We’ve always worked to do thing right, and man, we’ve done a lot of things to make this better (Lake Erie) and we’re still getting blamed for it,” Bechman says. Anderson’s has spent time educating growers during winter meetings and summer plot tours over the past several years.
“Most effective might have been the time we sponsored a Lake Erie charter boat captain to share his story,” says Bechman. “Hearing how this man’s business was affected really helped our guys understand what’s at stake.”
Bechman said a “good 30 to 40 percent” of his growers will always think about stewardship issues when they approach their crop planning.
“I would like to think it is more,” he said. But, in all honesty, Bechman continues, it’s yield and cost control that is driving the decision-making. He thinks that making the connection of both the economic benefits and the stewardship benefits can help some reluctant growers see the value of precision agriculture and be willing to pay what it takes for the retail offering.
“I think we need to do more in linking precision agriculture with nutrient stewardship,” said Bechman. “There are economic and stewardship benefits to putting it exactly where we need it.”
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