Crop Advisors

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Crop Advisors is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Directors Emma Martin and
Howard Nason
Communication with
our members is key
Based in Hampshire, Crop Advisors is one of the foremost
buying groups for independent agronomists in the UK.
The organisation independently assesses agrochemicals,
fertiliser and seed inputs to ensure farmers are buying the most
cost-effective products for their businesses. Managing Director
Emma Martin tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about how
the business operates.
Since its inception in 1978, the firm has continued to strengthen and grow,
working alongside 20 independent agronomists to ensure they have a complete
commercial understanding of the inputs they are advising on. Today the group has
over 600 members and covers in excess of 300,000 acres.
The Farmer
For a farmer to be a member, first they must use an independent agronomist who
is a member of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants. To be a member
of the AICC, the individual must meet a strict criterion of independence. They
must have no commercial involvement linked to their advice of any sort ensuring
that their advice is 100 percent impartial. The farmer pays a membership fee to
Crop Advisors and at no point do we trade or sell any inputs. All are negotiated on
behalf of the farmer member.
Crop Advisors (CA) does not see itself as a standard farmer buying group, but one
that specialises in arable inputs ensuring maximum profitability for its members.
We strongly believe that the buying of inputs is not necessarily about how cheaply
»Established by Alan Bide in
»Joint Directors since 2009:
Emma Martin and
»Services: Specialises in the
buying of arable inputs,
services over 600 farms across
the South of England
»Working with 20 associated
independent agronomists
»Personal customer service is
key to our success
Crop Advisors
Highlighting best practice
one can buy a can of chemical or
a tonne of seed, but what is the
cost per hectare and is the farmer
receiving good value for money for
his investment. At CA we question
this with every product: we look at
its source, its label implications, its
integrity, its trials response curves and
finally how it compares and contends
with its competition.
Facing the issues within the
A challenge that the whole of the
arable industry faces is the revocation
of agrochemicals. The change in
chemical classification has seen the
disappearance of many key actives and
this has created many challenges and
provoked a fundamental shift in how
we approach arable farming.
During the Covid-19 pandemic we
were reminded of the importance of
our food supply and how we have
previously just taken it for granted.
Surely the panic buying we have
endured has reminded us of the
importance of the British grower and
how important products, that are
paramount to growing a healthy crop,
should only be revoked on scientific
evidence and not political pressure
from lobbying groups.
Many would see this as a huge risk
for Crop Advisors as the volume
of agrochemicals we purchase will
diminish, but as a business we are
so much more than a group buyer
of agrochemical: we analyse and
investigate all inputs. With the demise
of agrochemicals, distributors are
looking at alternative income streams,
such as bio stimulants and cover crops.
Out in the market there is a plethora of
choice and at Crop Advisors we invest
time and money to speak to industry
experts to get a true understanding of
which products offer our membership
true value and a return on investment.
Millions of pounds are being invested
in digital support systems. At CA we
believe that they do play an important
part in our decision making, but we
need to ensure that farms are using
this technology to reduce their overall
inputs and enhance their overall farm
performance. Technology will play
an important role when we see the
implication of the new Agriculture
Bill. Farmers are going to need more
We undertake
independent, well-
researched assessments to
ensure farmers are buying
cost-effective products
The days of the
chemical sales
rep are over.
The future is
and truly
advice coupled
with specialist
input buying.
This is what
Crop Advisors
offers its
expert and independent advice and
we believe that CA is well placed
to give unbiased, well-researched
information that will ensure they are
buying a cost-effective input with a
Advice can no longer be seen to be
given by a chemical salesman; we
need to be completely transparent
in our approach. We believe that
independent agronomy linked to a
professional arable buying group is
the future. Consumers want to know
how their food is produced to ensure
that future food production works in
harmony with the environment.
Looking to the future
Ten years ago there was a large
ageing population of independent
agronomists and this was a risk to
our business. We took a conscious
decision to invest, support and spend
time in developing the next generation
of agronomists. We set up a two
year apprenticeship scheme and over
this time, the trainee spends two
days a week at CA understanding
the background to the commercial
decisions that are taken and then three
days out in the field with one of our
associated agronomists. This has been
highly successful, and we now have
four full-time agronomists working out
in the field with a positive and growing
client base.
We believe that old-fashioned
customer service is key to our
success. We are very much a people
business and talking to our members
is an important part of that. We do
recognise the diverse age range across
our client base and that we need
to be able to communicate with all
generations. Over the last 12 months
we have invested heavily in a new
bespoke computer system.
There is nothing more frustrating than
mistakes that are out of your control,
particularly when you are trying to
offer a superior service. The new
system enables us to communicate
directly with third party systems
reducing double entry of data.
Farmers will be able to view via an app
where their order is in the process of
delivery, so hanging around waiting
for commodities to be delivered will
be a thing of the past. At any point
we can analyse the farmers’ buying
patterns and trends to allow us to
concentrate on our buying power
on certain commodities therefore
ensuring the most competitive price
in the market. I wrote this article
during the unprecedented time of the
Covid-19 pandemic. This investment is
already paying dividends by enabling
us to have the flexibility to work
remotely and has enabled us to carry
on our important work for the British
farmer. There is no doubt that this
large investment has future-proofed
Pesticides are
part of the tool
box for
sustainable food
production whilst
farming in an
sensitive manner.
It is vital any
decision making
on product
Analysing various
choices of slug pellets

This article was sponsored by Crop Advisors. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.