For most professionals involved in agriculture, they say ag is in their blood. For Carson Britz, his family started out in agriculture as a crop retailer in the 1940s. After working a number of years in areas that include production, growing, processing, food safety, R&D and ag tech, he’s come full circle, and is now the Senior Manager of Sustainable Ag in the Western U.S. region for Nutrien Ag Solutions.
A retail division of Nutrien Ltd., the world’s largest crop inputs company, Nutrien Ag Solutions is an innovator in providing full-acre solutions to help growers achieve the highest yields with sustainable solutions around the globe. Its WG membership stems back to 1969, and most recently, the WG Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT).
Britz saw WGCIT as an opportunity not only for Nutrien Ag Solutions to communicate and work with up-and-coming companies, but to also share and compare his company’s needs versus what’s in the market today.
“Our slogan is leading the field. We intentionally make decisions that drive us toward wanting to be leaders in innovation and overall stewardship. Western Growers’ commitment to the center has made it an important hub for conversations to take place, and it’s a good way to aggregate entrepreneurs, startups and well-established businesses with opportunities for collaboration,” Britz said.
Nutrien Ag Solutions provides a full suite of digital tools that enables its customers to have an all-encompassing view of their operations. Currently, the company is fine-tuning a sustainability tool geared toward developing reports and analysis for growers to give them a better view of their sustainability scoring benchmarks set for their operation.
Two years ago, Nutrien began a pilot program with the goal of showing associated traceable outcomes from the seed all the way to the market. “We’re looking to scale this up and out. Through our data tools, growers will effectively be able to report what they’ve done to the field and how a crop was grown,” he said.
“If we’re able to demonstrate that traceability effort, there’s a premium associated with it,” he said. “This last year, we saw a customer come in and purchase a product at a 30 percent premium in the market just for having that kind of visibility on the farm. That’s significant because we’re helping tell the story of what growers are already doing.”
Britz commented that part of the value proposition Nutrien is looking to enhance is its participation in the supply chain. Specifically, greenhouse gas emissions are a hot-button topic for many retailers because they recognize the market requires accountability as it relates to the carbon footprint for products sitting on their shelves, he explained.
One of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions is nitrogen fertilizer, of which Nutrien is not only the largest producer in North America, but also the world. “Our sustainability solutions and tailored recommendations will help growers take advantage of reducing their farm nitrogen applied while incorporating other biological products that will help efficiency and efficacy of those applications,” Britz said. “This is the grander vision for how we want to impact specialty crops.”
Growers will not only become more efficient with their use of nitrogen fertilizer, but they also will have the ability to report on its use to show good environmental stewardship. “When it comes to that reconciliation with the end user and customer, they can have a choice on what they’re actually buying,” he said.
Britz said that it’s important to continually look for innovative ways to influence growers to make practice changes that drive optimization, efficiency and revenue.
“We’re bringing new opportunities for growers that provide value-added revenue streams that haven’t existed before,” he said. “We share and enjoy these benefits with the growers, and we truly do look at it as a longtime relationship and partnership that we want to perpetuate for years to come. We want to make sure growers continue to successfully farm for future generations to come.”