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The Farmer-Advisor Relationship: By the Numbers

Those of us in and around production agriculture routinely see and hear about the role advisors play in helping farm operators feed the world.  It’s so routine we don’t usually try to quantify the scope or degree of the advisor impact.  We noticed an interesting summary from Iowa State University that put some specific numbers to it, and we thought we’d pass along the numbers here.

For background, the ISU report reflects 2014 poll responses collected by ISU Extension and Outreach as part of a long-running survey of Iowa farm operators. (Fun fact:  ISU Extension’s field agronomy team uses AgriSync).

Asked about the degree to which professional advisors help them make agricultural management decisions, the 1,128 responding farmers left no doubt about the way in which advisors are involved in decisions on U.S. farms.  Here’s the summary table:


Note that except for tillage decisions, advisors have some role in at least 63% of every major crop production decision.  In crop disease and pest management subjects, advisors are involved in nearly 80% of the decisions.

That’s not all. Advisors’ advice is not merely executional – it is also key in farmers’ identification, evaluation and adoption of the latest technologies and practices.  In a private poll of 86 farmers conducted through Kansas State University in 2014, fully two-thirds (67%) of the responding farmers chose “easy access to a local adviser with experience and expertise in the solution” as the thing that “most helps . . . when it comes to the adoption of new technology.”

Likewise, The Hale Report’s survey of 384 Iowa farmers confirmed ag retailer agronomists, seed salesmen, independent crop consultants, and extension service staff are farmers’ most trusted sources of information about new products and services.  The same farmers declared their greatest educational need is a “clear explanation of how to understand the new Digital Agriculture technology.”

It’s helpful to see hard numbers supporting a key reason AgriSync is doing what it’s doing:  farmer-advisor relationships matter in a big way.


Arbuckle, J. Gordon, Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, PM 3073, Iowa State Univ. Extension and Outreach, available at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Iowa-Farm-and-Rural-Life-Poll-2014-Summary-Report (August 2015)

The Hale Group, Ltd., The Digital Transformation of Row Crop Agriculture, A Report to the Iowa AgState Group, self-published (December 2014)