Find informative and interesting blog posts about Ag Industry from US Farm Data, your best resource for Ag Data!

There are a lot of political issues up for discussion this election year. For farmers, one of the biggest has to do with water.

Of course, there are a number of issues regarding farmers’ use of water but one of the biggest—and without which others don’t really matter—is the availability of water. Consumable water in the United States, for the most part, comes from one of two sources. These sources are precipitation, which is stored in reservoirs and upper soil formations, and underground aquifers.

The U.S. Geological Survey conducted their annual analyses of water levels in 32,000 wells that have been sampled over the past 20 years. This analysis showed there to be a shrinking water supply in the West and High Plains. Further, according to this analysis, water levels have diminished in wells across the country. The majority of the wells in the U.S. Geological Survey’s database rely on underground aquifers. Irrigation accounts for the use of about 90 percent of the water in the lower 48 states.

While some have argued that too much runoff ends up in the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. government does not agree with this assessment. Government agencies also dispute the argument that fishery, wetland, and wildlife regulations require too much runoff.

It is obviously good news for both the U.S. economy and the Ag industry that agricultural exports have doubled since 2006. However, there is a downside to this booming export business. Higher exports mean that the amount and quality of the U.S. water supply declines along with these exports.

Of course, U.S. farmers are very aware of the need to conserve water and are doing their part to help save this valuable resource. What follows are just some of the many ways the Ag industry is doing its part to be a good steward of water resources:

  1. Drip irrigation: delivers water directly to a plant’s roots, reducing evaporation.
  2. Pond construction: allows farmers to decrease reliance on municipal water or wells by capturing and storing rainfall.
  3. Scheduled irrigation: keeps a close eye on the weather, as well as soil and plant moisture, to schedule irrigation so it is used in the most efficient manner possible.
  4. Drought-tolerant crops: appropriate for the climate of particular region and more drought-resistant.
  5. Drying farming: relies on soil moisture to produce more flavorful but lower-yield crops.
  6. Rotational grazing: moves livestock from field to field to promote pasture regrowth.
  7. Cover crops: protect unused soil and help prevent erosion and compaction, allowing water to more easily penetrate the soil and increase its water-holding capacity.
  8. Conservation tillage: makes use of things like specialized plows to partially till the soil but leave a percentage of vegetative crop residue on the surface to aid in water absorption and reduce things like evaporation, erosion, and compaction.

If you are still utilizing old search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, or worse, your SEO vendor who you are paying continues to implement old SEO techniques, you may (and probably will) wake up one day and find your website is nowhere to be found within the search engines. That’s because the game of SEO and online visibility have changed dramatically. It’s not about the links. It’s about the content.

We talk to so many businesses in the agricultural space who still are not maximizing the web like they should or could. The worst part is that many think they are even though they are nowhere to be found inside the search engines. More and more farmers and ranchers are going to the web to search new products and new ways to run their operation. It’s a perfect time to reach these people who need your product. And maximizing the search engines is a perfect way to reach them in a very cost-efficient manner.

Everybody wants good, solid leads. Everyone wants more customers. And many times, the best place to start is to ensure your website is reaching your market online. So many businesses continue to spend money to create a website, but do nothing with it. It’s not Field of Dreams. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean anyone is coming. The good news, though, it doesn’t take a lot to be visible online – to get qualified prospects to your website. The new rules of online visibility is about content, blogging, social media, mobile friendliness, videos, etc. Don’t get left behind.

If you have positioning, don’t lose it. If you don’t have good visibility within the search engines, don’t fret. Believe it or not, it’s easier to get on Page 1 than you may think. That’s because so few companies are following the new SEO rules. Start looking at content more closely for your website, and you will be amazed at the increase of visibility you will see. And what does more visibility mean to you? More customers.

If you want to learn more about this, contact US Farm Data (www.usfarmdata.com), we’ll be happy to speak with you about this. We work with numerous companies, managing their website, social media platforms, and help them grow their business. We can do the same for you.

Think marketing to farmers doesn’t need to involve social media, mobile apps, and other types of digital marketing? Think again!

Turns out, farmers are looking for more Ag-centric mobile apps and online tools. This desire is what helped to fuel the USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge. This challenge encouraged the creation of mobile apps and online tools for the Ag industry. And the results were amazing.

In his article, Contest Gives New Digital Tools to Farmers, Ben Potter provides a brief description of some of the winning entries, including grand prize winner George Lee. Lee’s Farm Plenty app shows farmers data about other crops grown near them so they can make better decisions about their own crop mix.

Lee said he has talked to farmers over the past year and learned how tough it can be to make a living.

The USDA has a wealth of data on crops and prices that can help farmers. The challenge is making it relevant for their own local circumstances.

Other winning apps include:

Green Pastures: This app’s dashboard helps visualize a variety of data from agencies like the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

What’s Local: A tool which uses census data to connect the needs of urban centers with area farmers.

Farm Profit Calculator: An app that gives farmers information to allow them to make informed decisions when choosing what to spend money on.

This type of innovation in the Ag industry just goes to prove that farmers are way ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile apps, online innovation, and social media. Therefore, digital marketers don’t need to worry they will be talking over farmers’ heads, they need to worry farmers’ will have to wait for them to catch up!

 

If you are marketing to farmers, you are well aware that no two agricultural operations are the same. Fortunately, most farmers are all looking for the same thing.

Today’s farmers—whether growing crops or raising livestock—are looking for information. Information is the most important thing to a farmer since it allows them to discover things that can help to increase output or make their operations more efficient.

If you are marketing a product or service to a farmer, it is vital that you take the time to give them useful and relevant information that will benefit their operation. The biggest mistake you can make is rushing through a presentation with a farmer because you are worried about wasting too much of their time. In fact, if you are bringing value to a farmer—or any other sales lead for that matter—they will always have time for you.

While it is true that in the past farmers were almost always out in the field or tending to livestock, today farms are being run increasingly like a business. As operations grow, many farmers are spending less time in the field and more time managing operations from their office. This means farmers have more time to do copious research into anything they are considering purchasing for their operation.

It also is imperative that those who are new to the Ag marketing world or have no familiarity with farmers in general check any stereotypes they have about farmers at the door. For example, it is imperative to realize that farmers know much more than just how to raise crops or livestock. The knowledge and expertise it takes to be a farmer today means that farmers are well-versed in things like mechanics, business, marketing, science and more. Therefore, if you are talking to farmers, you better know what your stuff because they know theirs.

Many inexperienced Ag marketing professionals also have the mistaken belief that farmers have money to burn. While there is no doubt that there are many farmers who are well off, most farmers farm because they love it, not because they expect to get rich. What does this mean for you, the Ag marketer? Always offer a fair price. Farmers will pay what they need for the products and services that will help their operation but they are not going to put up with inflated prices.

Finally, it is important to understand the lifestyle of your farmer clients when making contact with them. Research shows that catalogs and direct mail pieces work well in the farm and ranch industries; consumer product offers also are well-received by mid-size and hobby farmers; and mailings to farmers at their homes are in most cases the best way to reach all but the biggest farming operations.

 

 

 

Is Social Media the New Website?

Don’t be surprised if that’s the case.

Websites have always been the primary factor search engines took into account when it came to their rankings. But the times are changing, and the savviest marketers know that social media is revolutionizing the way business is being conducted online.

While agribusinesses are often thought of as being behind the times when it comes to social media, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many agribusinesses have embraced social media and are using it to their advantage.

Updates in Google’s algorithm means much more interest is being paid to where farmers and ranchers are hanging out online. Google and other search engines also are looking for quality, engaging content that is shared and commented on. And where is this type of content most likely to be found? Social media sites.

Social media is fast becoming the website of the 90s. This is true for several reasons in addition to SEO. If you have a farmer or rancher who wants to learn more about your business, in many cases they are no longer going to look at your website only. They are going to check you out on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Social media is actually moving in the same direction as websites did in the beginning. First, it was important to just have a website. Then you had to make sure that you kept that website updated. The same is now true of social media. Many Ag businesses once felt that if they had a basic Facebook or Twitter account set up they were good to go.  That is no longer the case. Social media sites need to have fresh, new content posted on a regular basis.

Think of your own life when you research a company. You land on a site, and then click on their Facebook, Twitter and/or Blog icons, only to see a blank page, or maybe worse, the last post being in 2014. What did you think? How did that make you feel about that company? Even if it were just for a split second, you may have perceived the company in a negative light. Most businesses can’t afford that. We can’t afford spending money to bring visitors to our site, only to have our website and our social media sites work against us.

Fresh, new content is so important to your online presence and visibility. Social media is a great way to engage and strengthen our relationship with farmers and ranchers.

Many business owners understandably are concerned it is difficult to measure social media’s ROI. And truth be told, for most Ag businesses it’s probably not a primary medium when it comes to a purchase. But it also isn’t a stretch to think that social media plays a huge role when it comes to influencing someone’s decision to purchase. We all know the slightest negative vibe can ruin a deal. It’s always worse when it’s something we could have controlled.

Social media can do so many great things for your business. What’s best, it doesn’t take a huge investment to stand out among the competition. What it does take is some time and effort. Many companies will choose to outsource their social media management if they feel they don’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves. If this is something you would be interested in, US Farm Data can help. We think you will be surprised at how affordable it can be to keep your social media sites fresh, engaged and garnering the attention they deserve. If you want to learn more about how social media can help your business, contact us at 800-960-6267 or email us at info@usfarmdata.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media Crucial to Ag-Based Businesses

Almost three-fourths of small businesses that market to farmers and ranchers say that email marketing makes up the majority of their marketing strategy. Whether for personal or business use, it is virtually impossible to find a farmer or rancher without an email account. And with these Ag professionals using their mobile devices everywhere from on the tractor to in the barn, email is an outstanding way to get in touch with these customers and prospects.

In light of this fact, you would think that every small business would be using email to raise awareness of their brand and increase sales. However, many small businesses are under the mistaken impression that implementing an email campaign is more hassle than it’s worth. In reality, however, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective and least complicated forms of marketing you can choose for your business.

Email marketing offers a better return on investment than almost any other type of marketing strategy and the money spent on email marketing is minimal compared to other forms of marketing. Think about how much you would spend to produce and air a 30-second radio commercial and it is easy to see why an email campaign makes such good sense. Plus, email marketing is able to offer a much more targeted approach.

Email marketing also will boost your company’s social interaction. Social media is what is hot these days and email is one great way to connect with your customers. Email allows you to post links to your social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and your customer can share your email with friends, family, and other farmers and ranchers—across the field or across the world.

Email marketing gives you the ability to track and better understand how your contacts are responding to your emails, as well. This allows you to tailor your emails to meet the particular needs of your Ag customers in ways that traditional marketing strategies cannot.

Further, if you need to get your message out right away email marketing is definitely the way to go. All you have to do is compose an email and press send. Traditional marketing techniques simply can’t offer that same flexibility. And since weather and other market conditions often necessitate a last minute change in message, this offers a huge advantage over other marketing methods.

Once you have begun your email marketing campaign you may be curious if it is working for your business. That’s another advantage of email marketing. The results of email campaigns are easily measured because you receive reports that let you know things like how many farmers and ranchers saw your email and how many clicked on its links.

The more you learn about email marketing, the easier it is to understand why so many small Ag businesses are using it. If you don’t want to lose out on connecting with the farmers and ranchers on your sales list, it’s time to implement email marketing.