Field Days are the ideal time to ask questions and learn more about potential dealers, as they discuss and showcase their products.
How to Prepare
They say the best way to learn is to ask questions, and that couldn’t be truer than at the field days you attend. Having questions in mind ahead of time will ensure you gain the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about dealers and your farming operations. We’ve compiled a list of 12 questions to ask at your next field day that will help you gain that knowledge and increase your bottom line.
If there is a speaker on a topic of interest, then come prepared to ask specific questions on the subject related to your farming operation. Find out what you can about the subject ahead of time and be ready to take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions that pertain to your situation. The more you understand your situation as it pertains to the subject, the more you can learn.
Questions to Ask at Your Next Field Day
1.) What’s the next big thing in development in terms of corn hybrid research?
When you ask a question like this you will:
- Get great information about what research could be coming to help your farming operation.
- Discover how well informed your dealer is. Remember, you’re dealer should know what’s happening in the industry.
2.) What has worked for your most profitable farmers?
We can all improve what we are doing to solve current problems and find new ways to increase our efficiency and margin. This question can start a conversation, such as what the most cost effective ways to increase yields are.
A good follow up question could be asking for examples of how other farmers have improved their profitability by using things like different seed treatments, fungicides, nematicides, planting densities, and the right traits to match the needed insect or weed control for their fields.
3.) How do you define success at your company?
Ask your dealers what is most important to their company and how they work to make it part of their company culture. If a company values family and follows through with that by helping you efficiently raise a good crop with a nice ROI so you can spend more time with your family, that’s pretty important.
4.) What pros and cons can I expect if I work Cover Crops into my rotation?
Cover crops add some extra challenges and management to the agricultural calendar. It may sound like a great idea, but what issues might you encounter and what benefits can you anticipate after a few years?
5.) If I am concerned about the dusting off of neonicotinoid seed treatments negatively impacting bees, are there alternative insecticides available?
If you’re concerned about pollinators, you’ve probably been reading and researching alternatives to certain conventional ag practices. Whether or not you have made your final decisions about your insecticide use, you’ll want to know your options. Exploring the available options will ensure that you only use chemicals you want to use. Your dealer should be well-informed and have options that let you choose what to plant.
6.) What are the available seed treatments and why would you choose to use them? Can you explain the efficacy and expected ROI if they are used?
Most dealers have various fungicide options, including options for SDS such as ILevo, insecticides, and nematicides such as Nemastrike™ or Clariva ®. They also may have growth regulators, nutrient treatments, and inoculants available. Using what will make you the most money is the most important thing to decide.
7.) What prepay discounts are available? Is there a loyalty discount or a discount for planting 100% of the company’s seed?
Often dealers have extra discounts that are available, but that aren’t widely advertised. Knowing about prepay and loyalty discounts can be a great help when it comes to saving a few bucks per bag. Ask what other programs they have for this year and if any are time sensitive. Wouldn’t you want to save 10% – 12% if you could?
8.) Do you work with banks to offer financing?
Because quality seed is expensive and margins are tight these days, it’s fine to need a little injection of capital. When a seed company works with a bank in your favor, they’re putting their knowledge of you and your operation to good work. Letting them do the work for you is a wonderful thing to take advantage of.
9.) What’s your average grower size (acres) and how large is the largest 10%?
Knowing if you’re on the small end, the large end, or right smack dab in the middle of a company’s average customer profile is a great way to determine how much time they’ll have to spend with you and your operation.
If you work with a large company, chances are they will focus more of their time on the big farmers who are floating their big expenses and large salaries. On the other hand, if you work with a company who places your size of operation in their crosshairs, you’ll be sure to get the attention and expertise you need. They’ll be there when you want a dealer to stop by and check out whether you need to replant or not.
10.) How did you find your way to my area?
Are you buying from a company whose main office is on the other side of the Midwest? Are they set up to handle your needs? Maybe they have an interesting story about how they found their way to your area and why they decided to stay. Knowing more about your dealer, and the company he or she represents, can help you assess their company and see if their products are likely to stand up to their hype.
11.) What traits are available from your company and when do I need to use traits?
It’s important to know if you can get corn with no traits and if you do buy traits, the reasoning behind using specific traits on specific fields. For example, knowing the efficacy of insect traits and when to add soil insecticide is important, especially for corn-on-corn. Getting the best trait choices for herbicides for corn and beans is critical to a good weed control program.
12.) What varieties are best suited for the specific types of soil I have on my farm?
A dealer should understand how to place hybrids to minimize risk and maximize opportunity on your personal farm.