By: Amber Barton, Market Insight & Proposals Lead
Agri-EPI Centre helps develop precision tech solutions to empower more sustainable farms. But once the solution has been trialled and tested, how do we communicate the benefits and enable uptake of the tech? Amber Barton provides tips on what’s important when presenting about your agri-tech product.
Tip number 1. Too much background, waffle, and unnecessary information is not required, nor desired. Focus on you and your product
Keep your presentation direct and to the point.
Use real life examples from trialling your tech on-farm – admit what worked well and what didn’t and how this has been addressed.
Provide video footage to demonstrate your technology in action. Video phone footage would be fine.
Use photos and importantly, remember to introduce yourself, your team, and your backgrounds.
Tip 2: Presentation structure should centre around the product, cost, and application
What is your product/ service?
This should be one slide. It should be direct and easy to understand for someone unfamiliar with the subject matter.
What does your product/ service do?
This is your use case and should be a call to action. It should still be explained simply and directly but it’s your chance to appeal to them in a more emotive way. Use facts and figures, but only if they are strong enough to make someone think “WOW”. Do you know your facts and figures if questioned?
How much does it cost?
You have told the farmers what your product/ service is and now they want to know if it is worth investing any more time listening to you. They will do this by assessing what the cost is to them. You could present something to them that is pure magic, but if it’s not financially viable then you are wasting their time (something they do not have a lot of). Make use of this valuable opportunity. If you are at this stage, then you should already be confident that your product is being produced at a cost that is agreeable to them so it shouldn’t need to be hidden. More on presenting costs can be found further down the page.
How is it practically applied?
You have told them you have something that will make their life easier/ save them money etc. Now decision makers need to know how this will practically fit into their system. You may not know what kit they use or how they farm, but they do, and if they want to use what you’re selling then they will be open to making it fit or speaking about the possibilities. You just need to tell them the requirements. Is it sprayed? If so, how? Is it pulled behind something? If so, what are its power requirements? Is it robotic? What are the power/ connectivity requirements? Does it require mapping in advance? What is the timeframe needed for this to take place? Give them the facts and figures to help them see how this could fit into their own set up.
Is there training need?
Who is going to be using this? Is it them? Their agronomist? Is it simple enough for anyone on the farm to operate? Have these details to hand and any cost associated with them, including training time. Is it a 1-hour module or a two-day course with top up sessions etc.
How will your solution benefit them?
Round things off by highlighting any direct or indirect benefits your product will have. Think outside the box. Benefits to the bottom line are often at the top of this list but is there anything else that might not be so obvious? Environmental benefits? Farmers are stewards of the land after all. Work life balance benefits? Will time saving help them get home to their families any quicker? Really put yourself into their shoes and consider the wider picture.
Value of your product
If you can show them this, in real terms, then they are far more likely to get on board and work positively with you.
So how can you help to “Onboard” farmers through considered costings?
First you need to understand their operating environment and their cost of production (COP). Most farm enterprises don’t have huge profit margins. As such, your product needs to either save them money in an existing area (e.g., labour saving) or enable them to increase the value of their product in a significant way. That is tricky in most farming sectors.
If you have a product that saves labour, then you need to know what the labour cost element of the total COP is and ideally you need to show that your product fits within that, or even reduces it. I will use labour costs in tabletop strawberry growing as an example:
Redman, G., 2022. The John Nix Pocketbook for Farm Management 2023. 53rd ed. Published: Melton Mowbray: Agro Business Consultants
Using this example from John Nix we can see that the costs for labour are mostly in the fieldwork, harvesting and grading/ packing areas which comes to between £31,676/ ha for low output and £54,129/ ha for high output production.
If you can show how your product offsets cost in actual figures, then there is a tangible benefit.
If your product costs £50,000 but provides a labour saving of 25%/ ha then you can show the benefit to the bottom line, the payback period etc. In this example a high performing farm would see the payback within one year across less than 4 hectares. You can then discuss the other benefits, such as not having to manage as many people (something that often causes the farm manager the most headaches) or helping to overcome the struggle to secure the labour in the first place.
There are a few places to find COP information – John Nix Pocketbook and ABC’s “The agricultural Budgeting and costing book” are a good place to start for a comprehensive guide. The AHDB also does a lot or work on farm economics and their Farmbench programme has a lot of good data.
Showing farmers you have a good understanding of what you are trying to help them achieve will go a long way to helping you achieve success in this sector.