Interesting and informative blog posts on farmers and ranchers from US Farm Data.

By now, we all know that farmers are on social media. In fact, today’s farmers are as tech savvy as any other demographic. That’s why if you are looking to connect with farmers for the purpose of generating leads, social media is a great way to do just that. Nine out of 10 people, including […]

We are quickly approaching the holiday season and gift giving will be on the minds of almost everyone. If you own an agricultural business, you will need to decide if giving gifts to your farming and ranching clients is something you want to do. Most experts agree that giving gifts is an appropriate way to […]

Soil testing is an outstanding method for assessing the fertilizer needs of your soil. Given the cost of fertilizer, soil sampling is the best way to determine whether you are using the correct amount of fertilizer on your crops.

Most agricultural experts recommend testing soil every two to four years. They also caution that soil testing is not a task to be taken lightly and that to get accurate results, it must be done correctly and consistently.

What follows are some important things to keep in mind when collecting soil samples:

  1. Mind your tools. Tools that are not clean will contaminate soil samples so it is important that you never use tools that have not been thoroughly washed. Plastic tools and buckets are preferable to metal ones as metal may have small amounts of rust or zinc that can flake off and contaminate the samples. Such contamination will skew the results of the soil’s nutrients.
  2. Dig at the same depth. Experts recommend collecting samples roughly 7 inches deep. Collecting too shallow of samples will give misleading results about nutrient-supplying capacity. Likewise, going too deep down for samples will lead to diluted soil concentrations. Consistency also is important so make sure you dig down the same number of inches for all samples.
  3. Carefully collect and mix cores. It is critical to collect enough cores per sample area. This number should be anywhere between 15 and 20 cores. When you fail to collect enough cores, the soil samples will be inaccurate. Remember, the samples you are collecting represent a huge number of pounds of soil so there must be enough to get precise results. Cores also must be thoroughly mixed. This will allow the composite to contain an accurate mixture of all the soil samples.
  4. Sample in the fall. Fall is usually the best time for soil sampling because it allows you enough time to get it right. In the fall, there is more time to collect samples, run the analysis and then buy the right fertilizer. If you must do your soil sampling at another time of year, however, make sure you do it the same time each year.

Soil sampling is an outstanding method to ensure that you are making efficient use of your fertilizer. It also helps you to devise the best fertilizer management plan over the long term. Finally, when done correctly, it will go a long way toward improving yields.

Customer loyalty programs are all the rage. And it’s no wonder. These programs are not only an outstanding way to retain customers, they also generate a great deal of revenue. If you are an Ag – based business it is important to remember that farmers and ranchers are as likely as any other market segment to be influenced by such loyalty programs.
So why are customer loyalty programs so effective? Here some important reasons:

  • Loyalty programs shows you value your customers. Consumers want to know they are appreciated by the businesses they patronize. Loyalty programs are a great way to show them that you appreciate their business.
  • Loyalty programs encourage repeat business. If you get a free item for every ten items purchased, you are likely going to work toward that goal. After all, free is a very big motivator.
  • Loyalty programs increase referrals. Loyalty programs that reward customers for referring family and friends are a great way to get people to talk up your business.
  • Loyalty programs can garner online reviews. Offer additional points for online reviews and you’re more than likely to get takers.

Customer loyalty programs – provided they are well run and provide real benefits – are a great strategy for standing out in a crowded Ag marketplace. After all, farmers and ranchers have more choices than ever before so any incentives you can offer should be employed. It is important to remember, however, that if your loyalty program falls short of expectations it could backfire.
In light of this, make sure to follow these guidelines when implementing a customer loyalty program for farmers and ranchers:

  1. Don’t assume that a loyalty program is all you need to keep your customers happy. If you aren’t providing what your customers want and need, no loyalty program will make up for that.
  2. Not every farmer will want the same reward. Loyalty programs – especially for farmers and ranchers – need to be tailored so that each customer receives what they believe to be a worthwhile reward.
  3. While it is tempting to add a lot of bells and whistles to a loyalty program, this is almost never a good idea. Instead concentrate on making sure that your loyalty program is easy to enroll in, is mobile friendly and that award redemption is a breeze.

Using video to market to farmers and ranchers? Chances are that a majority of those farmers and ranchers will be viewing these videos on their mobile device.
If your marketing videos don’t translate well to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, you are going to have a tough time going up against your competitors. This is especially true when you are marketing to farmers and ranchers who have little time to waste trying to get a video to work on their mobile device.
The best practices for mobile video continue to evolve at a staggering rate. Here are some things to keep in mind right now when it comes to getting farmers and ranchers to view your videos on their mobile devices.

  1. Don’t repeat yourself. For example, if you are running a 30-second television ad do you really think a farmer or rancher (or any consumer) is going to click on it so they can watch it again on their mobile device? Short videos made specifically for mobile devices are a must. Recycling broadcast ads won’t work.
  2. Frequency is a thing of the past. Users tap videos because they are interested in what that video promises. Once they find out, don’t expect them to keep watching it over and over. You need to continually create new videos.
  3. People must be able to hear your message (even if there’s no sound). Many times ads on mobile pages use a preview loop with no sound. You will need to caption your video or make it so visually compelling that sound is not necessary.
  4. Timing is everything. Many of the most successful digital marketing videos are less than five seconds long. This is in part due to the fact that views can skip an ad after five seconds. Sure, you can make a longer video but it must be of tremendous value if you realistically expect people to watch the whole thing. In other words say what you have to say in as short a time as possible.
  5. Keep things in perspective. Your video is going to be viewed on a small screen so plan accordingly. Long rows of crops are beautiful to behold but on a small screen they will be difficult to decipher.

Finally, according to Google, 61 percent of mobile users say they won’t return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and 40 percent say they would visit a competitor’s site instead. That’s why your videos must be specifically designed to look great on mobile devices

Ticks are nothing to be trifled with. Lyme disease, the newly identified Powassan virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and many other diseases are transmitted by this pesky arachnid.

Farmers, ranchers and others who work in the agricultural industry must be especially vigilant when it comes to protecting themselves against ticks. Many people believe that ticks fall out of trees and land on people’s heads. The truth is, ticks live in grasses and low shrubs. When a person walks through grass or shrubs a tick will jump out and land on an individual and make its way up the person’s body.

If you are working outside, bug or mosquito spray is not going to do the trick. Instead, you need to wear a repellent specifically designed for ticks. It also is important to remember that tick repellent is meant to be applied to clothing, not to the skin.

The appropriate clothing also is a powerful weapon in the fight against ticks. Be sure to wear long pants, sock and boots when working in grass or shrubs. For added protection, make sure to tuck your pants into your socks. Finally, remember that ticks cannot transmit disease unless they are attached to a person and feeding off that person so always do a body-check after coming in from the outside.

When it comes to breeding grounds for ticks, nothing compares to farms. Cattle, dogs, sheep and farmers themselves all provide the blood ticks live off of. Ticks have relatively few enemies in the animal kingdom so farmers must take matters into their own hands if they wish to reduce the population of ticks.

What follows are some steps to take to manage the tick population on your farm:

  • Keep all areas where tall grass grows mowed and dry. You also should consider applying tick granules to the grass.
  • Treat house pets with flea and tick repellent.
  • Keep guinea fowl or chickens in your yard or near the house since these are a tick’s natural predators.
  • Construct nesting boxes and raptor perches for hawks and owls. Hawks and raptors reduce the number of small rodents and mammals on the farm which reduce the tick population since ticks live off these animals.
  • Vaccinate all cattle over one month of age and dip or spray cattle with tick treatment.
  • Deer can be carriers of ticks so build bait stations for deer that require deer to rubs their heads against a pesticide dispenser or a citrus oil extract. This will kill the ticks on a deer.