Syngenta Seeds announced that NK Seeds hosted 400+ customer events during the course of the 2021 season, five times the amount they normally host in a season. With restrictions and uncertainties still surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to make larger, in-person gatherings a challenge across the world, Syngenta doubled down on finding more personal ways of working with farmers and resellers that could remain beyond the pandemic.
The cornerstone of NK Seeds’ pandemic-era customer interactions has been a series of small-group educational tailgate talks. In a non-pandemic year, NK typically would host 70-80+ field events attended by large numbers of customers. COVID-19 made it very challenging to continue hosting larger events while maintaining a safe environment for participants.
“We know that the best way to support farmers and resellers is through personal connections. You have to understand their unique fields, farms and operations to give them the help they need to maximize ROI,” said Todd McRoberts, head of agronomy at NK. “While the pandemic challenged our ability to support our customers, we stayed committed to personal connections. With the smaller-scale tailgate talks, we not only were able to connect safely with farmers and retailers, we were able to foster strong – and in some cases, even stronger – relationships than ever before.”
Each of the more than 400 outdoor, in-field tailgate talks held in 2021 hosted about 10 attendees, allowing for hyper-focused discussions on critical nearby opportunities and challenges. Topics included:
• The Field Forged Series: Launching for the 2022 growing season, this line-up of corn hybrids and soybean varieties combines proven performers and elite newcomers.
• Navigating soybean trait choice: NK pairs its own exclusive genetics with leading trait technologies like Enlist E3 soybeans and XtendFlex soybeans, all from one seed provider.
• Managing corn rootworm (CRW): The NK corn portfolio provides access to the Agrisure Duracade trait, featuring novel, alternate modes of action that result in long-term field by helping to preserve trait durability and delay insect adaptation.
• Geographic challenges: NK agronomists provided short- and long-term recommendations for managing some of the most prominent agronomic issues of 2021, including tar spot, gray leaf spot and Sudden Death Syndrome.
“I like that the tailgate talks allowed me to connect with other retailers about how they approach their customers and how they place their NK product line-up,” said Fred Wilker, certified crop specialist at AGRILAND FS in Humeston, Iowa. “They helped me to break down the products that NK has, find what fits my area and learn what the agronomic properties are that their hybrids bring to my customers.”
Even as pandemic-related restrictions lift, learnings from the tailgate talks experiment are expected to remain.
“The past 18 months have obviously brought their share of challenges, but tailgate talks offered a silver lining,” said McRoberts. “Directly seeing the impact of these smaller, tighter-knit events, we look forward to finding ways to incorporate some of these elements in the future.”