The AGRI-TREND Story
In the 1990's, government and university extension programs had been downsized, and were focused primarily on delivering basic production information to the market, and not on the more specific needs of farm operations with aggressive goals. Rapid consolidation with the crop inputs and farm equipment manufacturers had created larger territories to service and a much more sales focused approach by most sales agronomists. Technology was advancing, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to successfully introduce a new technology into any farm operation without disrupting the overall operation. Research was mostly focused on individual products with high margins that could afford to pay, rather than solutions that would make a farm operation more profitable.
AGRI-TREND Agrology was formed in 1997 when founder Rob Saik began working as an agronomy consultant with farmers in Western Canada who had a need to do better, and were frustrated with the resources they had access to.
The early years were primarily working with a small select group of farm clients, and developing sound processes that showed solid results. Strategy planning, operational level planning, collecting and managing all the data, a unique approach to measuring and balancing the soil fertility, manure management, margin analysis, and seeking out and implementing new technologies were the key drivers of the overall system, and what made it very successful right from the start. The Strategic Crop Plan™ was born.
The Strategic Crop Plan took agronomy to a whole new level, but it was also about much more than just agronomy. The term "Agri-Coach" was developed as a title for those who had been accepted and trained to deliver The Strategic Crop Plan.
As the number of farm clients began to grow, more AGRI-TREND Agri-Coaches™ were added, and with those new people came new expertise. The concept of The AGRI-TREND Network was born, and it has consistently grown in numbers and geography ever since.
One of the most important additions to The AGRI-TREND Network was when soil scientist Elston Solberg joined as the first Senior AGRI-TREND Agri-Coach, and was tasked with moving AGRI-TREND ahead as a science based organization, ensuring the quality control of all Strategic Crop Plans, and training the AGRI-TREND Agri-Coaches and their clients. He soon brought on other scientists with different specializations, and the Senior AGRI-TREND Agri-Coach™ bench became the Agri-Knowledge™ Group. Today there are fourteen Senior Agri-Coaches who collectively have more than 500 years of agronomy research to draw from.
The ability to collect data easily, manage it through a process that made it relevant to decision making, and communicating it to all of the people involved became critical to the success of the overall program. There were a few software programs available that were built as record keeping systems for agronomists, but none that were easy to use, none with enough depth to satisfy The Strategic Crop Plan, and none that were web based. A web based data management platform called ADS Pro™ was created from scratch, and today is an award winning system that is unique anywhere in the world, the best in its class, and it continues to add new features every season.
As the success of the AGRI-TREND Agri-Coaches and their clients became apparent in the market, and the unique requirements of their programs were puzzling to many, there were a number of crop input retailers that realized that there was also an opportunity to improve their own service offering to customers. The AGRI-TREND Associate Retailer Program was developed so that retail sales agronomists could also tap into the training resources of The AGRI-TREND Network. Today many of the leading crop input retailers participate in the "Agrology Powered by AGRI-TREND" program, and access the AGRI-TREND training program, and utilize the Senior AGRI-TREND Agri-Coaches™ to educate their customers as well.
AGRI-TREND Agrology celebrated its 10th Anniversary in the fall of 2007. The AGRI-TREND Network has within it many of the brightest talents in our industry, who advise many of the most successful farm operations in Canada. The client retention rate continues to stay above 90% every season.
Elston Solberg is now the president of AGRI-TREND Agrology, and leads the AGRI-TREND Network as well as the development of the science behind it. Rob Saik is now the CEO of the AGRI-TREND Group of Companies, which includes AGRI-TREND Aggregation Inc., AGRI-TREND USA, AGRI-TREND Australia, and several development companies. Elston and Rob both also continue to work as AGRI-TREND Agri-Coaches with a select group of farm clients as well.
In the years to come, AGRI-TREND will be a major factor in pushing the boundaries on what is thought possible in crop production.