At the Grill with William Torres: How are you filling the ag tech gap?

This month’s At The Grill feature by William Torres (storyteller, empathetic connector and resonate catalyst) talks about connecting ag tech to “senior” decision-maker producers by focusing on dollars and SENSE, not raw data.

This one is for all my techies at the farm. Do you ever feel like you’re on a five-year mission to explore new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations? You might as well be on the Farmship Enterprise!

I have been a user of ag technology since university, and a bridge builder for close to 2 decades. The opportunity someone mentioned to me is that, “It feels like Ag-tech is too tech heavy. There’s not a lot of producers and growers in the conversation, and it feels like we’re talking at them, not with them.”

Remember, there are no problems, only opportunities.

I must slightly disagree with this statement, particularly here in Alberta. Quite a few companies are Western-Canada-based, and they have almost always worked directly with ranchers and growers or, at a minimum, they are doing user research with them on a frequent basis. They know they can’t expect a rancher/farmer to use a platform that wasn’t built with their direct input. I understand that, because of our ag backgrounds, we (tech developers) don’t need to include them in every meeting but we always focus on the farmer, and many on the team still have an active role in farming.

The Challenge: What I see, is that the younger generations that can learn and understand the benefits of today’s ag-tech are not the decision makers within their operations. The major decisions are still being made by the two previous generations. A large proportion of these generations are resistant to change. These farmers and ranchers have run an operation for many years in a particular way, and stick to the old adage of, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” They have been successful (or at least maintained) through the way they have done things, and see no reason to change.

The Opportunity: If you’re an ag tech user, sales rep and/or promoter, and you keep presenting the benefits in financial terms of Return on Investment (ROI), then you better be prepared to deliver dollars and SENSE.

What I mean is: break things down to where the dollars make sense.

For example, if you point out that your “tech” can improve the feed efficiency by… let’s say 10 – 15% by doing genetic selection; don’t tell me you have a “P value of 0.095 that can result in significance feed savings over the next 25 years.”

I’m not discounting data, data are good, and you can’t manage what you don’t measure. But present things in a way that make sense, like: “If you select a bull with a low score (like golf, golfers get it) for RFI of -0.125kg DM/day, the progeny will save you $55 / head annually over the next 6 years. With your herd of 100 cattle, this means 41 round bales that you DON’T have to feed every year. You can sell those bales for $140 each, and voilà, you just made an extra $5,500/year

AND…. with that $5,500, at a $1.60 per diesel litre, that’s almost 3,500 litres of diesel saved.

Remember techies, if the older generations do not see the value in or are generally resistant to learning new technology, visual representations of money are very helpful. We all like to see where our money is going or, better yet, where it doesn’t have to go.


Posted in Industry.