Last week I was invited to Seed Hawk’s
manufacturing plant to be an observer at their customer training day.
The company held the event to give buyers some hands-on training on
how to operate their new seed drills before the season gets going. As
seeding equipment becomes more sophisticated, seminars like this
become increasingly valuable for new owners. The days of
manufacturers just providing a printed owners manual and leaving
things at that are long over for many companies.
“Our goal for today is to make their
lives as easy as possible in the spring,” said Chris Morson, Seed
Hawk’s marketing coordinator and sales advisor, during the event.
“The goal is to get all of these growers together in one area to
ask us as many questions as they can think of, to be able to ask
other Seed Hawk owners as many questions as they can think of, get
the advice they need and try and make spring as easy as we can on
About 150 customers gathered at Seed
Hawk’s plant at Langbank, SK., for a training day in March.
It was also a great opportunity for me
possibly even more importantly, I was able to ask a few farmers who
bought new seeding equipment this year just what it was that drove
their purchasing decisions. The answers they gave made me think all
of these guys had done their homework pretty thoroughly.
As I spoke with them, it became clear
that even though most were first-time buyers of this particular brand
and had not yet taken their machines into the field, they all had a
very good idea what they could expect. This wasn’t a bunch of
armchair producers who looked at a few pictures, liked the paint
color and inked a deal after negotiating a bargain price. These guys
knew what they needed on their own farms and went looking for the
machine best suited to the job. For many, that included attending
field trials last year and closely evaluating various drills’
I’m not trying to say this brand’s
drills are the best choice for everyone—maybe they are; but here’s
my point. If the farmers in this particular group are doing their
homework, it suggests many other producers also know what they need
and exactly what their options are, too. It’s likely producers opting
for other brands also did so because those drills offered the
specific capabilities they were looking for.
Aside from citing the seed-placement
design on the Seed Hawk drills as a key element in their buying
decision, many of the farmers I spoke to also named parts and service
as key factors. Almost everyone acknowledged they needed to cover
ground quickly in the spring, and they wanted to be certain both the
dealer and the manufacturer who supplied their drill were willing to
go above and beyond to keep the wheels turning.
Remarkably, no one mentioned price as a
factor in their decisions. Obviously, none of them were willing to
sign a blank cheque. But they all understood that with the high cost
of crop inputs, trying to save a few thousand on an inefficient seed
drill would be—to use the old expression—penny wise and pound
After hearing the same things
throughout the day, it made me think the new industry term
“professional farmer” really hits the nail squarely on the head.
But when, exactly, did farmers turn pro? Maybe they always have been,
it’s just that now they get acknowledged for it.