Nutrien Ag Solutions, headquartered in Loveland, Colorado, Canada is a combination of many companies that have become one in the last 75 years.
“At Nutrien, our purpose is to grow our world from the ground up,” said Karen C. Watts, the company’s marketing manager. “Nutrien plays a critical role in feeding the future by helping growers to increase food production in a sustainable manner. We’re moving the agriculture industry and the world forward—today and for generations to come.”
As growers began to focus on organic production, leadership at the company understood that it needed to be there to support growers by sourcing products and providing people to help growers in their agronomic decisions.
“Our crop consultants are licensed PCAs (pest control advisors) and CCAs (Certified Crop Advisors),” Watts said. “We provide training to our crop consultants about soil health and product choices as well training on food safety requirements. Our growth has come from our field reps working closely with growers to source the best information and products.”
One of the biggest challenges of working with organics has been making sure that the company has access to products that are vetted to be efficacious.
“In the organic space, there are a lot of products that have not been tested by researchers either independently or at university,” Watts said. “There are a lot of product claims that don’t always prove true in actual field use. We are holding those product suppliers accountable and making sure that they have the resources to support their products. Understanding soil health is very important too, and we are spending time educating our representatives on all aspects of soil and plant health.”
Over the past six months, Nutrien has put together a formal corporate working group to address organic production, which is looking at products used, food safety issues and how best to use its strengths to address this growing consumer market.
Last year, Nutrien acquired Agrible, an ag tech company that is invested in helping growers grow more sustainably through information technology. It’s just one of the ways it looks to continue on its mission.
“Our opportunities are in the area of supporting our growers, large and small, as they make the transition to or are already there in growing organic crops,” Watts said. “We feel that we are invested in technology that can support our consultants and growers. The use of drones and analysis of the drone images gives us a new way to look at fields.”
Nutrien works with just about all produce, and among the trends they currently see are kale is on its way out and other fresh greens are doing well, as are organic nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts). The company also has organic coffee growers and growers growing organic flowers for consumers.
“We have locations close to the grower that are important parts of their local communities and we have trained personnel who are committed to their grower customers locally but also have the support and scope of the global experience,” Watts said. “We can take technology and products from one part of the world to another. Information sharing is key and we have access to so many kinds of information.”
As it looks to the future, those at the company understand its growth is in grower support and getting them the right information to make great decisions. Additionally, food safety initiatives will be very important in organic production for 2020 and beyond, and it’s an area Nutrien will invest more time and resources on.
“We are training our personnel in food safety initiatives so that growers can have confidence in the products we sell and apply,” Watts said. “We have a commitment to using information to help growers and our grower digital tools will only grow. We will be doing more training for our employees in the area of food safety, and this will include our branch employees as well as managers and field consultants.”