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A year in the life of Lee: A crop advisor with an agricultural retailer


What is an agricultural (ag) retailer? It’s a business that works like a personal shopper for farmers—supplying products and services like seed, nutrients, crop protection products, equipment, and other technology. As one of a farmer’s most trusted advisors, ag retailers also provide solutions that fit a farm’s needs and budget while helping to meet sustainability goals.

Meet Lee Orians

lee orians

Lee Orians is a crop advisor at Heritage Cooperative, an ag retailer and farmer cooperative located throughout the state of Ohio, which includes the Lake Erie watershed and the Ohio River watersheds. Since 2019, we have partnered with Heritage Cooperative and Truterra to provide growers with resources that help them to protect the air, land, and water, and the economic health of their farms. Using the Truterra Insights Engine and other best-in-class tools, ag retailers help growers track and advance farm sustainability in areas such as improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and responsible pest management.

Just like the work of a farmer changes with the seasons, so does Lee’s. Check out a year in the life of an ag retailer.

Spring: Watching plants multiply

The primary planting season in Ohio kicks off in the spring, so Lee spends many spring days out in the field, contacting up to 20 growers a day. He makes sure they are using the right seed varieties and helps them to identify appropriate nutrient management and crop protection strategies.

“I’m in contact with growers daily,” Lee says. “My favorite part of my job is that I get to look at crops and watch these little seeds become a plant and then multiply, and I get to do it all outside in the field.”

Corn planted in the spring

Summer: Monitoring the crops

During the summer, it’s all about monitoring the crops. Lee is a Certified Crop Advisor, which means he takes classes in his industry each year to stay up to date with the latest farming practices and technology.

Lee works with the farmers to check on the progress of the growing crops, and monitors the different weeds, insects, and diseases that may be affecting them that season. “A key part of my job is to help produce the best yields for my farmers,” he says.

Monitoring corn

By promoting farming techniques like conservation soil tillage, the use of cover crops, nutrient planning, and responsible pest management, Lee’s job helps to improve a farm’s environmental impact.

“Every day is Earth Day for a farmer.”

– Lee Orians, Crop Advisor at Heritage Cooperative

Fall: Using satellites to analyze results

In the fall, Lee and his farmers examine the results of the past growing season. They take note of their decisions—like which seeds and fertilizers were used—and evaluate the success to see if any changes are necessary for the next year.

“The one thing that may surprise people about farmers is the amount of technology they use,” says Lee. “I work with the farmers to use the Truterra Insights Engine data, and technology like satellites, to check on the health of crops and fields throughout a growing season. We then use that data to learn from a season’s successes and challenges.”

Lee also spends the fall season building relationships with his current farmers and meeting other owners of growing operations. “I have to earn their trust to earn their business,” he says.

Corn harvest in the fall

Winter: Planning, budgeting, and more planning

Winter is all about planning, budgeting, and more planning. Lee works with farmers field-by-field to determine what crops will be planted and creates multiple scenario plans to remain flexible depending on the factors of the year ahead.

“It’s my role to help farmers choose the best products and options for their operations. It’s not always about price, it’s about helping them know what product is best for them, and how to raise their crops in the safest, most sustainable ways possible.”

– Lee Orians, Crop Advisor at Heritage Cooperative
Lee using the Truterra Insight Engine to help plan in the winter

How Lee is making a lasting impact

Ag retailer crop advisors, like Lee at Heritage Cooperative, wear a lot of hats to provide resources and services to farms from season to season. They create meaningful relationships with farmers to help them make decisions that have a lasting impact on their land, and ultimately our environment.

Today, more than 60 of Heritage Cooperative’s farmers, across nearly 100,000 acres of land, utilize the Truterra Insights Engine to record exactly how they grow their crops. It’s because of this that we can confidently track the sustainability of the wheat in some of our favorite Campbell Snacks, including brands like Pepperidge Farm bakery classics, Pepperidge Farm cookies including Farmhouse and MilanoGoldfish crackers, and Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels. When our wheat is sustainable it helps boost farmers’ profitability and reduces the impact on the climate—two things we can feel good about.


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