Since 2018, Farm Journal annually has conducted research into how farmers buy the crop inputs they need. This email study specifically asks farmers to think about their purchases of seed, fertilizer and crop protection products. Last year’s data showed a flat trend of the percent of farmers who buy any of their crop inputs online, but this year’s study (conducted in October) showed one of the biggest jumps yet.
The results for why farmers don’t buy online are within 1 percentage point to 2 percentage points of previous years’ data. Although there’s been growth in the share of farmers buying online, these data suggest the reasons for not buying online have not significantly changed.
A consistent trend since 2018, the top products bought online are herbicides and adjuvants. However, this year, the average percent of herbicide needs that farmers bought online reached its highest level—increasing by 10% percentage points since 2021. The survey asks farmers to fill in the percent of each category sourced online. Seemingly, due to supply chain challenges, farmers are seeking out every avenue to source the inputs they need.
Retailers have told The Scoop that 15% to 20% of their customer bases have adopted and use their grower portals. Anecdotally, they share the most commonly used features are online bill pay and product research, not necessarily product ordering. As one strategy to increase use of online portals, some retailers internally mandate all orders be placed digitally—abandoning paper. From this year’s research, 22% of farmers say they will buy some inputs online for next year’s crop. If that happens, then the share of farmers buying some crop inputs online will have nearly tripled in five years.