When Jon Bottiger moved back to manage the family farm after 20 years of navigating New York City, the Denton, Kansas native brought the shrewd business acumen he had developed managing a multi-million-dollar hedge fund to the rich soils of Doniphan County. Armed with a drive to operate Bottiger Farms as a “tip-of-the-spear business”, Bottiger set to work forging the business relationships he knew he would need to build the “tech stack” that would deliver both precision and repeatability.
“I wanted to come up with a very sophisticated business plan for Bottiger Farms, one that employed a lot of technology, data, and the meticulous oversight I knew I would need to execute. So, four-and-a-half years ago, I sat down with Ag Partners, and that’s where I came across Taranis. It was part of the package that set the agronomists and team at Ag Partners apart from other vendors,” Bottiger explains. “Their relationship with Taranis is a value-add agronomy service that I need to run a tip-of-the-spear business.”
Bottiger says that the AI-driven insights Taranis delivers allow him and his team of advisors at Ag Partners to dial in service for every product he purchases from the retailer. Seed, chemical, and fertilizer applications and rates can all be validated or adjusted—just one of the ways AcreForward Intelligence helps Bottiger’s acres tell a story of ROI, genetic potential, yield, and soil health. “(Taranis) allows my agronomist to give me better content, which allows me to make better business decisions,” he says.
For Ag Partners Digital Ag Lead, Ethan Noll, customer service and team member access set his team apart.
“Taranis and other technologies are really a means for our customers to be able to attain the level of customer service they need to meet their end goal. Technology is a part of our solution to providing better customer service,” Noll says, adding that he gives most technologies he is presented with a trial period to see how and if they are going to work for Ag Partners’ customers.
What he and his team saw from their trials with Taranis was more than encouraging. The images were a game changer for both the manhours and manpower the company was allocating to scouting fields.
“I used to be one of those agronomists that was out in the field, and it really wears on you and takes up a lot of time,” he says. “We knew that if we could replace that with Taranis and get better insights it would be a big deal for us.”
Bottiger saw the savings, too, not just in application passes and product, but in the peace of mind and guidance Taranis provided his day-to-day activities.
“One of the greatest things about being back on the family farm is that I get to be outside more than I was in NYC. I love to walk my crops; I walk five miles, fence row to fence row every morning looking at my crops—I’m a boots-on-the-ground kind of guy,” he says through a smile. “What Taranis gives me is direction. It saves me time because I can go where I need to go and look at what I need to look at. I have a direction when I step off the porch, and I know what I am going to inspect, rather than walking 160 acres looking, I’m identifying what needs to be addressed and how I’m going to do it.”
Bottiger says that the Taranis Connect app provides the information he needs to make management decisions. Unfortunately, rural internet and data connectivity make in-the-field and on-the-go insight access challenging on many of his farms. That’s where his relationship with the Ag Partners team comes in.
“Communication is another reason I work with Ag Partners. If I’m missing something or I haven’t logged in for a day or two, Ethan, Nicholas, or one of the team is calling me, reminding me that I need to be thinking about what’s going on in a particular area of a field. It’s an added resource, and it takes the pressure off of me to not have to be 100% tuned in to what’s happening in the field 24-7. If I’m busy or I’m on vacation, I’ve got someone or something that I can access that gives me the content I need to make the best decision for my acres,” he says.
With granular foot-by-foot and plant-by-plant information, Taranis delivers an understanding of what is happening at a micro-level. The insights provide a communication tool that strengthens the relationship between retailers and the farmers they serve—it’s hard to argue with a photo that tells a story, followed by a management decision and another photo proving success. It’s black-and-white validation that what a retailer is recommending works.
“AcreForward fits into our Ag Partners strategy because we’re making our agronomists more efficient, our scouting results more quantifiable, and creating a digital history acre by acre that we haven’t had access to in the past,” Noll says. “When we talk to a farmer, we can prove what we are doing. It puts a dollar figure to what we are doing and the way we are doing it.”
When you sit down with the links in the crop season value chain to learn what worked and what didn’t, you can’t help but gain insight into management opportunities for the next growing season. That’s the goal of every Taranis retailer-farmer relationship and exactly what was highlighted in a recent CropLife hosted webinar.
With 30 years of experience helping growers find the solutions that work for them, Wilbur-Ellis Sales Agronomist, Paul Skiles, has seen his share of challenging growing seasons and done his part to put technologies and opportunities in the hands of growers when they need them most.
“I’ve been with Wilbur-Ellis for a little over three years now, and what drew me to the position was the amount of high-level service we provide across field-level activities,” Skiles shares. “That’s what excites me; I just want to be in the field with the grower, working to help make better decisions that increase yield and profitability.”
With more than 7,000 growers in five states, Landus Cooperative is leveraging the insights Taranis’ AcreForward Intelligence delivers to provide proactive solutions on a growing number of acres.
In the early summer of 2021, Landus signed up the first 200 acres that would benefit from Taranis AcreForward insights. By the end of the growing season, the stand count, disease and insect identification, and other insights had made that customer a Taranis believer. Landus launched #Grow23 with more than 50,000 acres enrolled with Taranis.