A Precision Farming Dealer Staff Report

The unmanned aerial vehicle market exploded in agriculture roughly 3 years ago, but a dip in the ag economy along with regulatory changes regarding drone usage influenced the short-term popularity of the systems.

Still viewed as a potentially valuable tool for gathering and analyzing aerial data, UAVs are currently in somewhat of a holding pattern for dealers.

“It’s not about just having a UAV or drone,” says Melissa Heise, marketing manager with Swiderski Equipment. “It’s really proving to the customer the return on investment. They have something to fly and take some cool pictures and get some maps, but what do they do with it then?”

While some dealerships are investing in in-house agronomists or data management services, not every dealership in the UAV business has the resources or willingness to connect the agronomic dots for farm customers.

Third party partners — seed dealerships in particular — are an option to deliver the analytical support to the UAV systems equipment dealers sell. Regardless of the distribution model a dealership chooses for UAVs, Heise says the key to success is showing customers that drones are truly tools and not toys.

“We need to go beyond the product,” she says. “The key is to really understand what we want out of it. What information do farmers want to get and what do they want to do with that information?”

Dealers don’t expect UAVs will disappear from the ag landscape anytime soon, as it’s still a largely untapped technology, and there is benefit in being involved in drones.

“They can be used as a marketing tool,” Heise says. “You can shoot some really cool video and your customers really do believe you’re on the leading edge when you’re on the front end of technology like this.”

Read full coverage of the Precision Farming Dealer Summit presentations, from how to recruit and retain precision employees, to developing a standalone precision business, to managing customers’ data, in the March 2017 issue of Farm Equipment.



Roundtable Discussion Topics

1. Precision Peer Groups: Your External Support Network
2. Tips, Tricks & Tactics for Selling Data Management Service
3. Does My Precision Ag Business Need to Have a CRM?
4. Putting on a Successful Precision Ag Field Day
5. Market Corrections: Lessons Learned During the Downturn
6. UAVs: Ready for Takeoff? Or a Grounded Technology? (currently viewing)
7. Aftermarket Opportunities: What am I Missing?
8. Where Can I Find My Next Precision Hire?
9. Bundling Service: What to Include & How to Price
10. Better Advice for Selling RTK Subscriptions
11. Probing the Moisture Sensor & Water Management Market
12. 7 Considerations for Succession Planning for a Precision Farming Business
13. Autonomy in Ag: What Role Will I Play?
14. Bridging the Hardware Gap: Adding Agronomic Services