Chuck Schneider brings business development, leadership and marketing support to the AgVenture Regional Seed Companies (RSC) in the eastern U.S. He directs strategic growth initiatives and recruits new seed companies into the AgVenture national network. We caught up with Chuck to talk about how Regional Seed Companies help farmers get the best seed for their operation.
What role does the RSC owner play in finding and securing the best seed for a farmer’s fields?
Our RSCs build their product portfolio based on their geographical area. Since they sell directly to farmers in their regions, they spend time understanding their soil types, tillage practices, the growing environment and their customers’ operations.
In other seed companies, the seed selection is top-down, but our RSCs are actually picking the products they want produced based on the environment and their knowledge of their customer’s farming operations. From there, they find the right genetics and traits that fit those environments and operations.
How does the AgVenture Yield Specialist (AYS) ensure the grower gets the right seed for the right acre?
Again, we spend a lot of time with the growers developing cropping plans, and within the development of that cropping plan, we’re out looking at the field the prior year before they plant our products. During that time, we write a cropping plan for the hybrids we want to place on individual fields — and this is all based on the preliminary work our AYSs do with that grower. They truly gain a deep understanding of his operation. The AYS is always making sure that we’re placing the best possible genetics and traits we can with that grower.
How does this model differ from other seed companies?
Typically in the seed industry, a seed seller will go out, get the order from the farmer, deliver the seed and pick up the check. We spend more time with our growers than your typical seed salesman. The reason we do, is that we want to make sure we’re in the Circle of Influence. By doing that, growers can put their trust in us — we know more about our products than anybody else in the industry, and we know we’re putting the right product on the right fields.
How important is seed selection to the bottom line of the grower?
When you think about it, one of the top five factors to produce a top crop is the right hybrid on the right acre. In our training, we say 75% of the hybrids don’t get their full potential because they’re not placed in the right environment. So it’s critical that we do a good job of placing those products.
The other component is having a very comprehensive in-season management plan. It starts at the planter to make sure we’re planting impeccably. And then we implement that in-season management plan all through the growing season. That’s how we truly get the highest yield potential out of every acre with our products.
What do you do to help farmers realize the importance of the right seed and right management?
After working together for long enough, our growers have faith and trust in their relationship with their AYS. They know we understand their operation well enough and understand what’s critical to produce a top crop. They understand their AYS is there not to save them money, but to help them increase production and lower per-bushel cost. And we tie this all into the Maximum Profit System. By increasing their bushels per acre and lowering our per-bushel cost, that’s our equation to add profitability.
So what is the big picture of how RSCs benefit farmers?
It’s like a three-legged stool. First is product selection by the RSC — they have access to a very broad germplasm and trait portfolio. They work closely with our product management team to choose what will perform in their areas, and they test varieties locally in their regions also. Building the cropping plan and building trust between the grower and the AgVenture Yield Specialist is the second component. And third, planting the right seed on the right ground and implementing great in-season management practices year-round — these are the keys to increase production and lower per-bushel cost.