Farmers are collecting more data than ever and experts in the field of agricultural technology say this is a good thing. Ask farmers and you may get a more lukewarm response, however. While it is true that many farmers are collecting a great deal of data, many are unsure what to do with that data.

For years farmers have been told that data collection will help them run their farms more efficiently and allow them to make better business decisions. This may be true, but only if farmers know how to accurately analyze the data they collect.

Many farmers are reluctant to hand over their data to an outside organization or company to have it analyzed. So what’s a farmer to do? Analyze it themselves, of course! Here’s how:

  1. Choose the correct software. There are several software packages out there so farmers need to do their research and pick the one that aligns best with their particular goals.
  2. Gather information. It is essential that the yield monitor data in the cab is accurate and that you have a reliable way of transferring that data from the cab to the office.
  3. Check (and double check) your data. Once your data has been entered into the software program it is important to double check that it is correct. Any errors entered into the software program will have a negative impact on your bottom line so always take the time to re-check things like yield totals, etc. While most farmers are interested in documenting their harvest, it also pays to document all operations. Doing so will help determine overall trends.
  4. Study the trends. Once you are sure your data has been collected and entered correctly you can look back over the crop season and examine what happened and why. This will help you to make necessary adjustments and figure out what factors drove yields and many other things.
  5. Put insights into action. Nothing you have done up until this point will mean anything if you don’t take the insights gleaned from your data and put those insights into practice.

Farmers are self-reliant. This is true whether they are harvesting crops or gathering and analyzing data. While farmers can certainly go to an outside source to analyze their data, it’s nice to know that those who wish to analyze it themselves can do so.

If you are looking to engage farmers through technology (and if you want to successfully market to farmers you better be!), it is important that you pay close attention to exactly who you are looking to engage. It also is important to remember that the best method to connect with a particular farmer today may not be the best method next week or next month.

In other words, when engaging farmers through technology, the name of the game is adaption. And if you aren’t constantly adapting to the farmers you want to reach, chances are you aren’t going to reach them at all. If all this sounds overwhelming, fear not, what follows are some tips to help you match the right engagement tool to the right farmer at the right time.

  1. Remember that segmenting is the name of the game. Within your target market, organize farmers based on specific demographics-size of farm, crop type, for example. Segmenting farmers allows you to tailor your marketing message. And the more relevant the message, the more likely farmers are to respond and engage.
  2. Get interactive. Use different forms of media to determine which are the most popular with your target audience. Host a webinar and see how many people tune in, for example. It also is a good idea to try to mix particular media. Send out an email that asks people to like your Facebook page. Not only will you find out what modes of communication your target audience prefers, you can gather important contact information in the process.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If there are channels that the farmers you are targeting already use, jump in and join the conversation. Do your research to find out where farmers go to share information or get advice. It also pays to find out who the key influencers are within a particular demographic you are trying to reach. By engaging with key influencers you can get your name out there, as well.
  4. Repeat. Technology moves quickly so once you have segmented your target audience, gotten interactive and jumped on already popular channels, it is important to repeat these steps on a regular basis. Only then can you be sure that you are keeping up with the farmers you are looking to reach.

Today’s world is becoming smaller thanks to technology. This means that you can reach out to more farmers than ever. But as is true with almost everything, quality trumps quantity. Make sure you are using technology to help you connect with the type of farmers you are targeting, not just the most farmers.