AGCO's Precision Planting Is Developing New Weed Management Technology for Release in a Year

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
AGCO has opened Fendt Lodge in Jackson, Minnesota. It is Fendt's brand home and a place where farmer customers will see and even experience Fendt's product line. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Dan Miller)

JACKSON, Minn. (DTN) -- DTN/Progressive Farmer recently attended the opening of Fendt Lodge, the new North American center for AGCO's Fendt brand in Jackson, Minnesota. During the visit, we found a moment to catch up with AGCO chairman, president and CEO Eric Hansotia.

We talked about customer pain points, new AGCO spraying technologies and how Fendt is delivering services to its farmer-customers. Here is the interview. It has been edited for context and clarity.


DTN/Progressive Farmer: When AGCO/Fendt approaches customers -- existing or potential customers -- you've talked about addressing their pain points. What does that mean?

Hansotia: When we go on the farm, we don't want to just talk about our product. When we go to the farm, we will ask, "Tell us about your crops and your agronomy. What's difficult for you? What are you struggling with? What's complicated? Where are you making money? Where are you losing money." Essentially, we try to tease out those things that are complicated for the farmer, where they struggle to manage in an efficient way. Those are all what we call pain points. Then we go back and figure out if there is something we can do with technology or data or support to come up with a solution.


DTN/PF: AGCO has been working with BOSCH and BASF on a smart spraying, sense and act weed management product. How is that going?

Hansotia: We've actually backed away from BOSCH. We're coming to market with a Precision Planting's technology now. We had two horses in the race, and we found the better solution with Precision Planting. And we have (Trimble's WeedSeeker 2 Spot Spray System). That's on the market now. You'll be able to buy (Precision Planting's) Symphony in about a year.

(Editor's note: Precision Planting and PTx Trimble make up AGCO's new technology arm, PTx)


DTN/PF: You've seen Fendt's North American and South American sales double in two years to $1.4 billion. What do you owe that to?

Hansotia: Well, I think it's this combination of designing for pain points and having machines do something that nobody else can do. So, our Momentum planter, it's the most productive planter in the marketplace. The Rogators, the only (applicator) where you can spray at the regular time of the year or you can spray late in the season. Our machines have solutions that solve problems. Combine those with the high bar we've set with our (Fendt) dealer network. We open them very methodically, step by step. We turned on one dealer location at a time. A dealer may have 10 stores, but we don't turn on all 10 stores. We (may) only turn on two or three that have earned the high standards for carrying the Fendt. This is a combination of outstanding product development with very high standards and going through step by step to make sure we're always achieving this very high-value proposition; this is what we are about. And I tell you what, when the customers have that all come together, they are passionate about the Fendt experience and what it means for their farm.


DTN/PF: AGCO is flipping the way service is delivered to the customer. Instead of brick-and-mortar buildings with service capabilities, AGCO has dealers purchasing services and service trucks to deliver service to the farmer.

Hansotia: It's always been a brick-and-mortar business, where the farmer had to come to the business. It's like going to the mall. And we've seen over time that not everybody wants to go to the mall. They want the activity to come to them. So, yeah, we've flipped this 180 degrees. It's called "FarmerCore." There are three pillars. The first one is a whole set of digital tools that the farmer can use to interface with us digitally. No. 2 is working with the dealers to buy nice, really nice service trucks. The work that they used to do at the store can now be done on the farm. And then No. 3 is changing the whole mindset and mentality. (Service) is on farm first, not at the store. We think this is the way farmers want to be served. We think it's great for dealers because it allows them to cover the market more effectively. And we think it's a great differentiator for AGCO.


DTN/PF: A piece of this effort is parts delivery. Delivery to the field the same day or next day.

Hansotia: We're experimenting with it. We're trying out different pieces of the puzzle in different dealers around North America and South America. Delivery needs to show up differently, so we're considering how we use the delivery expertise of other companies.


DTN/PF: Would you expand upon AGCO's expectations for its new technology arm, PTx -- the combination of Precision Planting and PTx Trimble?

Hansotia: (AGCO's) Precision Planting business has grown from about $100 million to $400 million in just a few years because they're just the best in the market at doing retrofit, that is selling technology modules for existing equipment to help make that equipment more intelligent and more productive. Then we made the biggest ag tech deal in the history of the industry by forming PTx Trimble. Combined, it is PTx -- precision agriculture, combined with cutting-edge technology creates a multiplied (the 'x' in PTx) impact on the farmer, helping them be more precise, increase their yields, reduce inputs and be more sustainable. We think we will be the absolute global leader in precision ag technology development. We want to serve all farmers, all fleets, no matter if they want to buy new from us or want to buy new from someone else. We have almost 200 (original equipment manufacturer) relationships where we'll sell technology they'll put on their machine from the factory. And there is a third (choice), that is the retrofit leg. So, we've got all three market paths where we can deploy new cutting-edge technology that makes the farmer more profitable.

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