Story written for Future Farmer Magazine and first appeared in Jul/Aug 2021 issue
The three-legged stool. This trusty, simple object does one job and does it well, but isn’t usually considered the most inspiring starting point for a speech, never mind an entire business philosophy. But, this simple object handily illustrated how RDO Equipment Co. sees the interdependence of three parties.
At the Cultivate conference held at Grand Farm in July, RDO Executive Vice President, Daryl Shelton explained that the three-legged stool was an easy way to understand the dealership’s role in agriculture technology.
Related article: Learn more about RDO’s role in the Grand Farm
Three Partners, Three Legs
In order for precision agriculture to be successful, three legs – the dealership, the innovator or manufacturer, and the grower – need to come together, be strong, and lean on each other. Looking at the dealership role, RDO sees its place as the connection between the innovators and the growers.
“Technology plays a big role in how we add value for our stakeholders, our customers and our manufacturing partners,” Daryl said. “For our customers, we can help them understand, manage and leverage all of the new functionality of technology. We want to make sure they are getting all the benefit from their investment. For our manufacturing partners, we want to make sure that their innovations are being utilized to their full potential by the customer.”
Related article: 5 important things to know about JDLink and machine data
This role, creating connections and bridging the gap between the innovation and end-user, is not unlike Grand Farm’s overall role. At another recent event, both Dr. William Aderholdt, Director, Program Management Office with Emerging Prairie and Andrew Jason, Director of Ecosystem with Emerging Prairie, explained the evolution of the Grand Farm.
The original vision was to create a fully-functional autonomous farm. However, in reassessing the opportunities and priorities, the team reimagined the space as a living lab and space where innovators and growers would be welcomed. The Cultivate conference is just one event intended to bring those two stakeholders together, along with partners, like RDO.
Supporting Innovation for All
As a partner at Grand Farm, RDO also play a critical role in facilitating connections. In the partnership’s first year, the RDO team planted 70 acres of land. Rather than conducting their own field trials and tests, RDO instead set up a space for other companies to test, trial and learn.
In many ways, RDO embodies that same philosophy internally, to deliver on its role for manufacturing partners and customers. Daryl touched on RDO’s culture, one that supports continuous improvement and a learner mindset for all team members. Team members are encouraged to get out into the field, attend events and participate in trainings. RDO also takes a more proactive role to create internal opportunities and events for team members to learn and share knowledge with one another.
Related videos: The top 5 precision agriculture questions and answers
That investment in time and resources for team members to learn and grow extends to every one of them, not just the ones growers see face to face, such as an agronomist out in the field or precision product specialist at the dealership.
“There is a whole team of support staff that works behind the scenes to make sure there is 100 percent connectivity to the customer, to that data and the management of that data,” he said, “so the grower can gain the productivities and minimize risk.”
Making Innovation Work for All