Crop Update Email Newsletter

Clarke McGrath, crop specialist

Situation:
Agricultural clients need access to crop and pest management information quickly and effectively throughout the year; most importantly in the growing season. While there are many sources of information for clients to use, Iowa State University Extension has the research based, most up-to-date recommendations the agricultural clients desire to make the most accurate economic and environmental decisions. I want the clients to have quick, easy access to me and this information; however, with a large 10 county geographic area to cover, it is difficult to visit every agronomist, retailer, and grower who may have a question.

Response:
A quick, easy to use e-mail update was generated and sent directly to over 400 growers, retailers, consultants, agronomists, manufacturer reps, farm managers, and media personnel in Iowa. The updates are also posted on several county web pages in southwest Iowa, and on the area office website. Along with Iowa, the information finds its way to growers and dealers in Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, and South Dakota. An advantage of e-mail is the ability of the clientele to send back questions and get a rapid response, so an e-mail link is included on the Web-based version. Over 70 issues were sent this past year, with an average of two per week in the growing season. The updates are brief and easy to use, often containing links to more resources if the client needs additional information. Another advantage of electronic communication is quick delivery of the information. As a crop concern flared up in an area, such as soybean aphids this season, the rest of southwest Iowa was alerted and provided appropriate information.

Impact:
A survey was sent to the recipients of the e-mail version of the newsletter to evaluate its effectiveness. One hundred and twenty-one clients responded, all were "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the newsletter overall, with the vast majority being "very satisfied". Clients indicated that they electronically forward the updates to over 762 customers, co-workers, and neighbors. Seed, chemical, and fertilizer retailers also indicated that they printed the updates and posted them in the offices as well as including information from them in printed crop newsletters that are mailed to customers. The information was included in ag newsletters from retailers, seed and chemical companies, government agencies ,and ISU Extension offices, put in print media and shared on TV and radio programs throughout the year. Some client comments were;

"I read every one of your posts. I find them very helpful during the heat of the battle to keep up with what may be coming around the corner to our area from other areas. You report what is happening at the current time. I try to print them off and lay them on the counter for all patrons to see and read. Thank You and keep up the good work!" Cody Shay, Advance Ag

"Your reports are excellent. Keep them coming!!!"Jeff DeYoung, Iowa Farmer Today

"Info was always very timely. Most times I got an email from you concerning an issue the same day I heard about it in the field" [Harder Adam USFS] Syngenta

"Crop updates were timely, very useful, easy to read and I did use the links to other pages frequently. These updates did have a financial impact on to my clients and my own personal farm (12,000 acres). keep up the good work. You bring a "hands on" approach and perspective and I like that." Marty Mattes, AFM, ARA

"Your updates are awesome. You manage to always have timely info-even with a good sized and fairly diverse trade area. When I run into challenges, I always expect you will have an update w/i a day or two, otherwise I would email you with concerns." Ryan Wilgenbusch, Agriland FS

"Clarke, just wanted to tell you that I appreciate these updated emails and the info. keep up the good work!" Dave Boettger

"I impact several thousand acres... the impact of your info in $$ is difficult to measure but anywhere from $2-40 plus." Albert Putz

"This has been by far the most localized "headsup" info as problems develop during the growing season. Yes, your info is very useful for both my farming operation, my seed customers and crop scouting customers. You easily have a $5-50/ Acre in impact Ac/Yr in fertility and chemical and insect programs and our family operation impact could be $35000 in these areas- my clients have a similar investment to protect, manage, etc this could be over $1 Million of crop impact in just Mills Co." Gee Farms, Seed Dealers/Crop Consultants
Clients who were inclined to put a dollar value to the impact of my ISU Extension crop updates indicated an impact to their operations and/or to their clients operations of over $1.5 million. Judging by the comments, number of clients who hear about, see, and use the updates in one form or another, and the economic impact, it is appropriate to say that ISU Extension information products can be and are effectively distributed from the field specialists to the clients, through many accessible means. The mailing list continues to grow.

 

Page last updated: July 8, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu