C’mon, man.

Yes, I’ve grabbed my soapbox and I need to rant. And it is directed at ag retailers who are perhaps resistant to change. Those who are more inclined to take orders and choose to not Think Different.

Why this rant? Because more than 50% of surveyed farmers want their local retailers to provide help to monitor soil health and changes related to cover crops. And, farmers also said they want their retailers to help them adjust their nutrient management plan to factor in the use of cover crops – as well as provide advise on cover crop species and proper management.

I repeat, more than 50% of 3,000 farmers who responded, want help.

This accurate statistic comes from the almost finished nationwide survey on cover crops that we helped conduct with USDA-SARE and CTIC (see story “Farmers value cover crops”).

With that many farmers seeking help – those with cover crop experience and those still on the fence about trying it – one would wonder why the service industry is not responding to this need.

Obviously there is discontent.

Now granted, there are some retailers who have grabbed ahold of this cover crop opportunity and are going as far as adding custom seeding – whether they were driven by demanding farmers or not.

One example comes from a story we did in February 2013, Size is No Excuse | Large Farmers Make Cover Crops Work. Indiana/Illinois farmer Mark Anson and his brothers found local retailers willing to help, so they contracted them to seed cover crops.

And we’re not talking a few fields here.

We’re talking more than 10,000 acres.

Cover crops on one family farm.

But just as the Anson brothers prove, these needs reside on a two-way road. If you’re not getting what you want, challenge your area retailers and demand service. Find some peers and band together to prove your needs and drive the business.

Or, be like some farmers and start a business yourself to serve family farmers around you – whether it’s growing and selling cover crop seed, or investing in seeding equipment to start a custom business. That will get attention of the local service sector – especially if they start losing business.

So, before I climb off my soapbox, I want to add a sincere tip-of-the-cap to those retailers who are being proactive – to help family farmers and their landowners build soil for future generations of farming. I commend you.

As the family farm in this month’s cover story points out, their yield goals are based on soils’ productive capacity and breakeven analysis of each zone’s maximum economic return – not highest yields.

Ag retailers can help farmers grow soil health to accomplish that.

I sincerely thank you for reading, for viewing more valuable content on csdigest.com, for subscribing to our newsletters, and for being willing to Think Different.