Extension Farm Visits with Ag Chemical and Fertilizer Dealers With an Economic Impact

Paul Kassel, crops field specialist

Ag chemical and fertilizer dealers often request unbiased information on pests, pesticide use, crop management and soil fertility management. These requests often require visits to farms or fields with dealers, in order to assess the question or problem.

In 2003, I made about 32 site visits with dealers. Some of these visits were in response to bean leaf beetle problems, soybean aphid problems, soybean disease problems, soil fertility problems, or crop growth problems. Some visits confirmed dealer advice to customers. The purpose of other visits was to explain soybean aphid thresholds and aphid treatment options.

I sent agribusiness evaluations to six agricultural chemical and fertilizer dealers, and three were returned. Dealers who responded indicated that they work with a total of 200 customers representing 270,000 acres. These dealers were asked, “As a result of our discussion, are you better serving your customers?” Responders reported that they were providing better service and indicated that they “encouraged farmers with aphids to spray” and “followed [Extension’s] directions in spraying for insects.” Dealers were then asked to estimate what effect these changes had on their customers’ profitability. Answers ranged from $5.00 to $80.00 per acre.

When asked if the information was prompt, up-to-date, and useful, responders indicated they were very satisfied. Some comments also included that dealers are now “telling customers what ISU told me,” and “scouting for aphids.” Others reported that they “know thresholds better” and “learned proper scouting techniques.”

Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu