Crop Consultant Describes Business With “Social Distancing”

Crop consultants are adjusting their business interactions as they help farmers in the final push toward planting. ( Margy Eckelkamp )

Erich Eller is doing the best he can to help his farmers have a successful start to the 2020 growing season. 

At his business, ForeFront Ag Solutions, he’s taking particular steps in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s on the board of directors for his local hospital in Huntington, Indiana. By also being informed from serving that role, he wants to share best practices with his farmer clients to keep everyone’s health and safety in mind. 

Here is what he recently shared with Clinton Griffiths on AgriTalk.

Communication of farmer clients:

“We are using the technology that we have, whether it's our smartphone or tablet, and trying to communicate with our customers on what they need on a field by field basis,” Eller says. “We're doing a lot more phone calls with our customers, text messages, emails. We are doing some video conferences with them as we start to gear up plant 2020.”

He half joking shares that they are already scouting wheat and starting to soil sampling, which being in the middle of a 100-acre field is a good example of social distancing. 

Technology is enabling a continuity in services: 

“Some things we’ve been incorporating over the last few years,” he says. Examples include weather stations and Spensa insect traps. 

“These  allow us to maintain social distancing but still be pulling data from the field that could make some decisions,” Eller says. 

Encouraging farmers to get supplies now: 

“To my entire customer group, I told if somebody's calling you right now saying they want to deliver seed, chemicals, fertilizer, or whatever you need between now and May and if you have the barn space and the capacity to hold it, take it. Get it in your possession,” Eller says. “I'm not I'm not saying stockpile a bunch of stuff or anything like that, but cover your needs for the next couple months if you're able to.”

A prediction on what will be different after this pandemic: 

“We're working with a lot of cloud based software, and we can share a lot of information through a tablet or through a laptop,” Eller says. “I think one of the things we'll see as a change in our industry is that the days of the thumb drive, and going out and taking prescriptions, getting yield maps, transferring data that way are gone. We have the ability to do it telematically.”