A major ag input dealers aims to go beyond selling fertilizer and seed by providing easy access to business and agronomic information for its customers through a digital platform.
“We think this is where the world is going and we want to offer that service to our customers,” says Mike Frank, president of Nutrien Ag Solutions. Nutrien was formerly known as Crop Production Services (CPS). The company has about 1,600 branches across the Americas and Australia.
Nutrien Ag Solutions launched a new customer portal over the summer. Customers can now access agronomy and business information with a single sign-on. They can also view previous orders, look at prices and pay invoices online. Frank says that information can help farmers plan for the future and make better decisions.
Whether customers are using a tablet, phone or desktop, they can pull all the business they’ve done with Nutrien. Frank says it takes about 30 seconds to sign onto the portal.
“It’s very easy. It’s very — I think — intuitive.”
Farmers can also map fields and plan the next crop year through the portal. They can select inputs for each field, add crop and tillage type and create a business plan. Frank says customers can then print that business plan and take it to their lenders.
“It’s a sophisticated tool meant to help farmers plan their whole year.”
Frank says Nutrien’s customers own their data. “We have very sophisticated tools and technologies to make sure that data is secure.”
Nutrient likes to aggregate customer data and use it in algorithms to create insights for individual farmers, Frank says.
“We only do that if the customer allows us to use their data as part of the aggregated pool. We don’t do that automatically. We ask them if we can use it and aggregate it anonymously so that we can run the data science behind the scenes and turn that into insights for them on the farm.”
If a farmer decides to move his business elsewhere and wants his data deleted, Nutrien will delete it, he adds.
Farmers can give information access to the Nutrien agronomist they’re working with, if they choose. They can also share information with a third-party agronomist, Frank says.
“We wouldn’t anticipate a lot of that,” he says. “But we do believe that if there is a close interface between what the farmer is doing and what our agronomist knows they’re thinking about, we can help serve them better.”
Nutrien hasn’t had a data breach to date, Frank says. Companies are spending a lot of time and money on protecting customers’ data, he adds.
One example of data security was apparent during Ag in Motion at Saskatoon. Nutrien was demonstrating the new customer portal. But rather than logging into the live site, at farm shows Nutrien employees log into a demonstration site that doesn’t contain any customer information.
Frank says Nutrien is focused on helping farmers attain success. “And if we can help farmers have a more successful harvest, then we all win.”