Covid provides a digitalization boost in feed consulting

–  a blog post by NDL member fodjan – smart feeding  –

What has Covid changed in the agricultural industry? Since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic in January 2020, the media have been restlessly filled with our crises: Hoarding purchases, milk price crisis, Tönnies scandal. The eyes of the public are on all systemically important industries and the Covid crisis has changed us permanently. In this blog post, however, we want to look at a Covid-era change that has barely been discussed in the media, but will have a much more lasting impact on our livestock industry in the future. Did Covid drive digitization in the livestock industry?

Catapulted forward by years?

The review in the chart below shows well what challenges and developments the Covid crisis has taken so far in agribusiness. Challenges, but also progress and new focus topics of politics, have opened up and changed the industry.

** Sorry that we can only provide you these graphic in German at the moment – we are still translating parts of our old website…

Consumers are leading the way​: Digital farm stores and food delivery services are booming (see REWE delivery service, bringmeister, pielers, kaufnekuh.de and more). And the latest digital survey by bitkom e.v. from April 2020 also continues to show an increase in the use of digital solutions on farms. In times of contact restrictions, digital solutions are thus becoming a game changer for the agricultural industry to remain accessible and maintain business relationships. Steps that would have taken the agriculture industry months or even years here and there to put digitization so high on the priority list are now being addressed.

How have feed retailers responded?​ Small start, big impact: Certainly, telephone advice and a few more online aids and info do not make a digitization trend (we’ll get to the really big changes in a moment). Nevertheless, much more information has already been made available digitally here than before, and customers have been able to find relevant info quickly without the phones and service hotlines being red-hot – saving time and nerves on both sides. Feeding consultants had to operate more from the home office and were more dependent than ever on digital tools to collaborate with their customers.

Digital events – more than just stopgaps: Digital events such as webinars are becoming increasingly popular: Smartbow, topfarmplan & many more are leading the way, the Digital Agriculture Network is launching digital workshops for farmers and agribusiness, and even SKW Piesteritz’s field day is becoming virtually accessible. Finally, in February 2021, we will experience the first completely digital Eurotier trade fair of the DLG.

The digital farm visit?

What Sano announced online has quietly happened for many: Feeding consultants completely digital in the home office. Even before Covid, many feeding consultants often work from home or on the road – paper printouts, telephone arrangements and offline programs are the order of the day (decentralized customer data storage – a horror since GDPR).

During the Covid lockdowns, farm visits initially become rare or are eliminated altogether, and feeding advice shifts primarily to phone consultations and quick Whatsapps. Many also rely on video chats for advice to at least maintain the feeling of personal contact. Not only the big winners of the Covid crisis, such as online retailers or streaming services, but also farmers and advisors can benefit from this change in shared communication:

Farmers

Feed advisers

Digital communication is becoming the key phrase for the entire industry to overcome isolation. While even the best digital solution can’t replace on-site personal consultation, it’s still a useful addition to make collaboration more efficient and easier when you’re not on site.

The experience of our customers during Covid

Since fodjan brings farmers and consultants together on one platform, both look at the same database online. We would like to share with you here the experiences our customers have had with this during the Covid period. Since the start of the lockdown in March 2020, our customers – whether farmers or feeding advisors – have increasingly told us how helpful it has been to be able to exchange information quickly on a common data basis.

An example: farmer and consultant work together in fodjan – one via laptop, one via app on the phone. The new silage test automatically comes into fodjan via the interface and both are notified. The advisor adjusts the ration and quickly discusses it with his farmer via phone or video chat and split screen. The farmer sees the finished ration directly in fodjan or receives it exported from fodjan as a PDF by e-mail from his advisor. In this way, many things can be clarified even without a farm visit or, since the resumption of the first farm visits, these can be efficiently prepared and followed up. A digital success, isn’t it?

There would be so many more real-life examples to tell – but instead, we want to let our customers speak for themselves. You can read more of these testimonials online on our website: fodjan customer reports.

Much more simple, good, digital interconnectivity is needed

Even though Covid is causing us a lot of suffering around the world, its effects have also brought opportunities. The world and the agricultural industry have once again become aware of how much digital communication holds us together in these times. And many of us will no longer want to do without some of the benefits of digital ways of working. So let’s continue to work on digital added value so that together we can create the best possible basis for decision-making for the farmer of the future.

What does it take?

At fodjan, we’re already hard at work on it. Join us and follow us into the digital future of feeding management.

We look forward to engaging in conversation with you!
Your fodjan team 🙂

Other posts that may interest you:

Farmers are ready to go, but agribusiness?

In an interview with the german magazine Agrarheute, NDL project manager Luisa Möller and journalist Norbert Lehmann discuss what the challenges are in terms of usability, obstacles to digitization, data protection hurdles and how widespread the acceptance of farm management systems is.

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