A renaissance in agriculture means opportunity when marketing for farmers

by Jeff Walter
March 8, 2018

Ag tech soil health marketing opportunities

Like ag tech, soil health is not a passing fad; and smart brands find ways to be part of the conversation.

Once we recovered from the enormity of the Commodity Classic tradeshow, we realized we are witnessing a renaissance in agriculture, enabled by technology. An oxymoron? Perhaps.

But one of the oldest agricultural principles, dating back centuries all the way to ancient civilizations, was one of the hottest topics at Commodity Classic: soil health.

Soil is as old as, well, dirt. It is also a living and life-giving natural resource, making soil health a pillar of sustainable agriculture and a vital link to improved productivity and profitability.

What propels soil health to the top of the agenda is the fact that ag tech is making it possible to better understand and more finitely manage what’s going on in the soil. The granularity of the data available on a geo-specific level, coupled with today’s precision ag equipment and tools, enables farmers to monitor and nurture plant and soil health throughout the growing season; to make informed, responsible decisions from seedbed preparation all the way through harvest; and gather, measure and interpret multiple KPIs in their operation.

In other words, because of ag tech, what is old is new again.

What does this agricultural renaissance have to do with marketing to farmers?

Well, if you are truly customer-centric and want to present content that is relevant to what’s on growers’ minds, then you need to find ways to legitimately and authentically make soil health part of your content editorial calendar.

You can join the soil health conversation.

Soil health was as pervasive at Commodity Classic as it is in ag media, such as Farm Journal’s Soil Health series on AgWeb. For some exhibitors, like the Soil Health Partnership or brands promoting microbial amendments and micronutrient fertilizers, soil health was the focal point of their booths. For others, soil health was a support point in their exhibits. Some also delivered the message more credibly than others.

That’s the challenge: Being credible.

Not every product or service directly protects or enhances soil health. But you can join the conversation while positioning your brand as a partner in improving productivity, efficiency and sustainability. For example, include subject matter experts at dealer or grower events or feature farmers’ stories about successful soil-health management practices in your content. Your brand gets credit for offering solutions even if it doesn’t directly benefit soil health.

That’s the opportunity:  Provide information that is highly relevant to farmers, yet not self-serving to your brand.

Let me emphasize that last point. Your route to credibility is through value-added content and transparency. Even if your brand helps boost nutrient availability or improve organic matter levels or soil tilth, approach the topic with the farmers’ needs first. And if your brand has nothing to do with soil health, then simply sponsor the content and save the sales message for another day.

As we saw at this year’s Commodity Classic, what is old is new again.

Soil health is top-of-mind with farmers (and all of agriculture), particularly as they try to squeeze higher yields and more profit from their soils. It is as much a sustainability practice as it is a production practice.

For ag marketers, joining the soil health conversation with appropriate, credible content is an opportunity to position your brand as partner that is vested in the productivity and long-term viability of their farms and agriculture.

Jeff Walter
About the Author – Jeff Walter

President/Chief Integration Officer. Jeff combines 20 years of client service experience with his deep knowledge and passion for agriculture, which stems from growing up on a corn and soybean farm in northern Illinois. He is a quick study of the brand, the customers and competitors, knows the right questions to ask, and with his oversight on planning and analytics, pushes the team to category-defining strategies and results-driven plans.


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Since 1978, the ag-marketing experts at Rhea + Kaiser have been helping brands connect with the farmer customer.

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