On-farm Visits Generate Profits

Virgil Schmitt, Extension Field Agronomist, Southeast

Problem Statement: 

From time to time during the growing season, producers, dealers, and private consultants encounter situations in the field that either baffle them or cause disagreement among the parties involved.

Programmatic Response: 

Individuals with crop expertise for the Land Grant Universities have long worked both with groups and individuals in providing education relating to crop growth and development, crop culture, and pest management.  More and more, these universities are relying on private industry to act as “multipliers” in providing this education to the producers.  However, this means that individuals in private industry need education and support from the universities, both to help them do their jobs better and to help educate the producers.  A part of this education and support comes in the form of visits to producer fields.  Initially, Extension field visits were most important to the success of individual producers, but now they have also become critical to the success of ag-related business.


The 2008 growing season generated 55 requests for field visits.  Of those, 40 (73%) were at the request of dealers who either were at a loss to explain the occurrence in the field or whose customers had requested a second opinion; the remaining 15 (27%) were at the request of producers.  All resulted in an identification of the (potential) cause(s) of the phenomenon and of courses of action to be taken.

Surveys were sent to the producers and dealers with whom a face-to-face contact was made during a field visit.  Of those, twenty-one responded, with the responses being nearly evenly divided between dealers and producers.  (Dealers only responded once even if visits were made to multiple customers.)

All producers indicated they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the promptness and usefulness of the information they received.  All indicated the information was up-to-date and communicated effectively.  Producers indicated an average value of the visit to be over $16 per acre; the average size farm was approximately 637 acres, creating a value of nearly $10,200 per visit.  If that number is extrapolated over 55 visits, the result is a value of over $560,000 for all visits combined.

All dealers were either satisfied or very satisfied with the promptness and usefulness of information received.  They all indicated it was up-to-date, and all were either satisfied or very satisfied with the effectiveness of communication.  Dealers indicated an average value of the visit of $41 per acre, which is over double the value perceived by producers, and would, if extrapolated over all farms, generated a value of over $1,400,000.


101 – Corn and Soybean Production

Page last updated: April 28, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu