Understand Producers

Agricultural change is, at its heart, human change. A producer makes decisions on behalf of the animals and acres under their care, and practice change on the ground follows a consideration process that includes becoming aware, understanding, seeing value, and becoming ready to take action.

In agriculture, farmers and ranchers are often homogenized, with broad presumptions made about their motivations and goals. Producers are individuals, though, and each have their own sets of core values, stressors, and life experiences that influence decision-making.

Nuanced outreach and program positioning shifts, like “Adopting no till will help you mitigate weather risks” vs. “Adopting no till will increase your profits” can make a massive difference in how a  program opportunity resonates with a producer.

To achieve the goals we’ve landed on in Step 1, we need to understand the people who will make that achievement possible.

What We Did

We started our effort by identifying the specific audience MRCC members were most interested in reaching – the middle adopter row crop producer who is open but has not yet undertaken change at scale.

To better understand how these specific producers in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska view and feel about conservation programs, we evaluated 500+ different data points from the project area’s 50,0000 producers, including detail about their operations, interests, and decision-making, made available from Farm Journal’s first-party consented database. We supplemented this data with quantitative research specifically geared to help identify key values and decision-drivers among these producers.


We learned that producers in the project area had three predominant value sets:

  • Leadership, defined as a group of producers that value being a leader and making decisions about their own land.
  • Protection, defined as a group of producers interested in high yields, regulation, risk management, tools and services.
  • Legacy, defined as a group of producers that values family and passing the farm down to the next generation.

Finding patterns in predominant sets of values allowed us to more deeply understand who we were designing outreach for and what about the program might matter most to the audience.

Make it Happen

Download the worksheet to start understanding your project’s producers now.

Data Collection Model

Collecting data from a wide array of sources is critical to reaching your outreach goals. Analyze and segment your insights to develop a persona, such as MRCC’s Priority Producer.


Insights from Sustainability Engagement Leaders

Planning Conservation Outreach Using Placed-Based Insights

“Growers are the ultimate stewards of their land and the center of what we do at Nutrien Ag Solutions. We have long-standing, trusted relationships with farmers in our supply chain. What we can learn in this process will help us engage and build deeper connections with our growers to implement practices in their operations that are both sustainable and profitable.


Ryan Locke
Nutrien Ag Solutions