In the second part of our five-part series, we look at how The agre¯ Solution assists retailers during the busy spring months.

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This spring may be more trying than most, thanks to a delayed and difficult harvest across parts of Canada last fall which left many retailers and their customers unable to completely apply their fall fertilizer. This backlog of application has the potential to put added pressure on managing supply and demand this spring.

Agreˉ allows the retailer to forecast appropriately what they need to acquire from their vendors and when. Anita Marghella

Maintaining Your Spring Sanity

The agrē Solution, a financial management software system from Tronia Systems Ltd., is used by their agri-retail customers to help them prepare for the spring season. Anita Marghella, business development coordinator at Tronia, says agrē helps their customers with inventory management ahead of the warmer weather.

“One of the biggest things that our retailers work towards is planning accordingly. If they can plan for the products that they’re going to have in stock, or the products they’re going to need to order before spring arrives, that’s usually a good start,” she says.

The time between harvest and planting is when retailers plan as best they can for what their customers will need in spring, and make sure they will have the products and people available when the busy season begins. The data that is available to retailers from agrē allows them to compare historical sales to predict what products their customers are going to need, in what quantity and at what point throughout the coming year.

“It allows the retailer to forecast appropriately what they need to acquire from their vendors and when. It also allows them to play or observe the market,” says Marghella. “They can make smart decisions about when to buy and how much to buy because they have the knowledge that they’ve gathered throughout the year.”

Planning Ahead

Blake Bergen, director of corporate services at Blair’s Family of Companies, says this is the time of year when they use agrē as a planning tool for their customers.

“The way farming and agriculture has gone now, it’s all about pre-planning and pre-buying,” he says, adding that Blair’s uses The agrē Solution to pre-plan and pre-buy their customer’s blends and crops.

“When our customers are picking up in the spring or when it comes time to haul fertilizer out, we have records of all their blends, templates and how many acres they need of everything, and we can easily access that from one central location,” he says.

Marghella says that this collected data provides retailers with more information in advance of spring planning, allowing them to make more-informed decisions when those busy times hit.

With agrē’s ability to keep track of all their customer information and orders, Bergen says they know exactly what the farmer needs when it’s time to fill the bins and get the air seeders rolling.

“It’s all documented in the program, so even if communication between us and the customer isn’t optimal in the springtime, we can go back to our records from our winter meetings with the farmer and see exactly what they’re requesting,” he says. “That way, the farmer doesn’t have to be very specific or come in to the office.”

The agrē Solution’s agronomy module also helps retailers and agronomists prepare in advance of a busy season.

During crop planning and growers deciding what they want to grow, Marghella says these decisions roll into a work order in the agronomy module – depending on what seed, fertilizer and chemicals need to be purchased for next season. It also manages field scouting, soil testing and custom application management and is used more heavily by their customers throughout the spring and summer months.

Blair’s only just started using the agronomy module last fall, but Bergen says they’re looking forward to using the collected data to help their customers with their spring planning. It allows their agronomists to plan on a field-by-field basis for their customers and provides a summary of the customer’s total fertilizer, chemical, nutrient and insecticide needs.

The customer can come in looking for their product and we know exactly what nutrients and what rates they’re after. Blake Bergen

“When the workloads start picking up in spring, and if a customer is coming to get their blends, we can easily access their account,” says Bergen. “It’s work that was done in February with a farmer when we had lots of time to do it, so we really don’t need to worry about confusion in the spring because everything is already in there. The customer can come in looking for their product and we know exactly what nutrients and what rates they’re after.”

The agronomy module is fully integrated with the rest of The agrē Solution, which Marghella says makes things that much easier for agri-retailers and agronomists. “The key thing is that if a retailer has agronomists scouting and gathering that information in our agronomy module, it’s all filtering into The agrē Solution in the end,” she says. “If retailers are making inventory, accounting and agronomy-related decisions, all of that information is readily available to them from our system. They don’t have to track information manually with files and folders or in multiple systems which can make things more difficult.”

Bergen says he sees “enormous potential” in the agronomy module to help their customers and Blair’s own operations. “It will definitely allow us to have a more precise view of our customers' farms and help us plan with them better,” he says. “We also believe it will help us make more accurate forecasts in terms of fertilizer and crop production products for our own use. It’s one of those things where it’s going to be a win-win situation.”

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