Retail catches Nutrien’s eye

DECATUR, Ill. — Within a decade, Nutrien Ag Solutions went from having no retail presence in the Canadian crop input market to becoming the leading provider of agricultural products and services with more than 220 retail locations in communities across Western Canada.

“We did a lot of that through acquisition across the Prairies. It was a place we knew we wanted to be,” said Jeff Tarsi, vice-president of Retail North America for Nutrien Ag Solutions.

“We’ve got a lot of our production assets in Western Canada as well, so it really gives a nice integrated model in that geography.”

During the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, Nutrien Ag Solutions showcased new features in its Open Platform Digital Portal, which Tarsi said customers can access from their phones to access their production information including account balances and invoices.

“It’s almost ridiculous to think that with the size of some of the customers that our industry has that we’re just evolving to the point where people have the ability to have that in agriculture. My wife has been paying our water bill online for the last 10 years, which is about $50 a month,” Tarsi said.

He said a new crop planning tool in the Open Platform Digital Portal will enable growers to manage their farms inputs on a field-by-field or product-by-product basis.

“We’ll have tools available this fall where our agronomist can go sit down with a customer, during the fall and the winter months, and start helping them plan their 2020 crop.

“They’ll be able to access soil profile information, they’ll be able to access a lot of past history on those fields, but more importantly, they’ll be able to plan what their 2020 operation is going to look like,” Tarsi said.

He said a real challenge for ag retailers is having the right product at the right time in the right place for their customers, especially considering how big some of the farms are today.

The cropping plans Nutrien Ag Solutions builds with its customers will help the company have the product portfolio in place when its customers need it.

“That will give us a chance to look at what germplasm do we need for those fields, what trait packages do we need for those fields, how are we going to approach it from a chemistry and a pest standpoint, what are we going to do from a fertility standpoint?” Tarsi said.

He said the company’s crop planning tool will help make it more efficient, and it will also help growers with their financial lenders.

“It’s going to give them a great reference point to go in and sit down with a lender in a very professional manner and say, ‘hey, here is our plan for 2020, here is the crops we’re planning on, here is the projected yield, here is what our projected costs are going to be. Here is what we think our ROI is going to be, and our profit per acre by crop,’ ” Tarsi said.

He said grower’s information is treated with confidentiality by Nutrien Ag Solutions.

“Can we look at some data in aggregate? You betcha. But we would never share and certainly never sell data from one of our customers. It would have to be only with permission from that customer to do so.”

Another feature to the company’s online portal is that growers will have access to the latest weather forecast from Eric Snodgrass, principal atmospheric scientist at Nutrien Ag Solutions.

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