Demystifying Sustainability: How Ag Retailers Can Use Sustainability to Future-Proof Their Business

If you’re an ag retailer, you’re always on the lookout for new opportunities to grow your business, and if you haven’t looked into sustainable ag yet, it’s an area worth exploring.

We asked two sustainability experts to share their views on the topic in a webinar presented by DTN® and hosted by Larry Alyward from CropLife®.

The speakers were Sally Flis, CCA, Ph.D., who is director of sustainability program design and outcome management at Nutrien Ag Solutions®, and Grey Montgomery, who is the global leader of strategy and corporate development for DTN.

Below are select highlights from the sustainability webinar.

 

Who is asking for sustainable ag?

Growers have used sustainable practices to protect their land and livelihood for decades. Now that interest in sustainable farming practices has extended outside of the ag industry, we asked our panelists, “who is asking for sustainable agriculture?” For Sally, it’s everyone, and that can present some challenges.

 

When will ag retailers and their customers see value from sustainable ag?

The increasing demand for sustainably grown grain is opening new market opportunities for the ag industry, so we asked our experts when and how farmers and agribusinesses will start to see hard value for sustainable agriculture.

Sally believes that they’re seeing the value now, both as a business and with the growers that participate in their programs. The challenge is scalability. Grey provided details on the progress being made to create a sustainability marketplace that rewards sustainable growers.

 

How can ag retailers position sustainability to their growers?

We asked Sally how ag retailers can take a bigger position with their growers on sustainability, and whether it is a cost leader or if there’s a way to build value.

According to Sally, part of it is looking at the portfolio of things retailers are doing in the field right now that will help tell the sustainability story for their customers.

 

How does sustainability data help ag retailers?

DTN recently launched EcoField™ data, a comprehensive dataset that provides insights into the sustainable farming practices of U.S. growers, so we asked the audience what information they would want included in a farm sustainability data set.

Some of the audience wanted to know the speakers’ views on the topic, so here are a few of Grey’s thoughts on how ag retailers can use sustainability data to find the right customers to engage with — those who could benefit from adjusting their practices.

 

Is sustainability data a sound investment?

When we asked the audience if sustainability data is worth the investment, 80 percent said yes, it is.

Sally agreed with the majority of the audience that it is worth the investment, particularly as use of the data goes beyond reporting sustainability metrics.

 

What’s the value of sustainability data for ag retailers?

Whenever you invest in something new, you want to make sure it’s worth it. So, we asked Grey what proven ROI should be expected from sustainability data, or in other words, what is the cost benefit? Grey sees the data as an opportunity for retailers to reach out and gain new customers.

 

Is sustainable ag here to stay?

We asked if sustainable farming is something that will stick as a viable business model, and why retailers should pay attention to this side of agricultural selling.

Sally expected that the name “sustainable ag” may change, but that the science and agronomy behind being as productive and efficient as we can on every acre, are just going to continue to get better and better over time.

For agribusinesses and their customers, sustainable ag opens the door to increased market opportunities by building upon the practices they’ve been investing in for years.

If you’d like to view the entire webinar at any time, click here. To learn more about how sustainability data can help grow your business, visit dtn.com/ecofield-data.

 

In-Webinar Audience Poll

Below are answers to some of the questions we asked our audience during the webinar.

 

Is sustainability data worth the investment?

 

Would knowing which growers use sustainable farming help your business? How?

 

How important are sustainable solutions to your business strategy?