The X-Factor of Ag Innovation Adoption

X Factor Adoption Randy Barker

By Randy Barker, CEO and co-founder

The process of product adoption occurs at the intersection of many decisions and factors, and where these points meet is what I call the X-Factor of Adoption in ag innovation. This concept has four main elements that weigh into a farmer’s decision-making process: Farmer Experience, Innovation Performance, Innovation Concept, and Farmer Sentiment.

X Factor Adoption

  • Innovation Concept: Is it needed?
  • Innovation Performance: Measurement of viability
  • Farmer Sentiment: Changes over time (e.g. weather is good, things are viewed better)
  • Farmer Experience: How is the innovation delivered?

I’ve spent decades working in the ag industry, and I’ve found that when we take these elements into account and get it right, that’s where we see success. It’s not enough to have a great product; when we think about getting innovations into the hands of farmers, what’s really important is traction: Will it work? Will they want it? Will others follow suit?

IN10T was the proud Innovation Partner at the 2021 World Agri-Tech Summit, and during our Workshop, I had the opportunity to speak about the X-Factor. I invited three other speakers who represent the different planes of the X-Factor to keep me honest: Paul Rea from BASF; Carl Casale from Ospraie Ag Science; and Sean Blomgren, an Iowa farmer who has worked with IN10T for years.

IN10T at World Agri-Tech

IN10T was the proud Innovation sponsor at the 2021 World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit. Barker hosted a workshop session with Casale, Rea and Blomgren.

We had a great session, and as I’d hoped, I got a lot out of the conversation. More than ever, what I heard was that Farmer Experience weighs heavily on our minds. “It’s not just the product; it’s the experience,” Rea said. The product should work well, of course – validating the ‘Innovation Performance’ plane of the X-Factor – but farmers are often asking for more than just dropping off a product and good luck wishes.

A good product experience “starts with you [the ag business] understanding what I want to accomplish on my farm,” Blomgren said. “Educate me with what you think to be true with that product and then let’s see how we can work together.” Casale had a similar thought: “Half of total product performance is the knowledge in how to make a product work on the farm,” he added.

The beauty of the X-Factor is that there is a constant overlap of the elements. Even as the discussion focused on Farmer Experience, Performance was not far from our minds – the product should work (and work well), after all. And Farmer Sentiment often plays into Innovation Concept; challenges (like extreme weather events that would impact Sentiment, for instance) present ample opportunities for advancements in technology.

The bottom line is that behaviors are changing, and I have a front-row seat to see how important it is not to think linearly about bringing solutions to farmers. When we think about innovation getting its start in a petri dish, that’s a long way from seeing a product hit the soil. There’s a lot that happens between those two points in the cycle, and we have an opportunity to check in and measure against the X-Factor. We owe it to ag businesses. We owe it to the farmer.

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