This Is My Story - Marvin Talsma, Field Product Specialist
January 23, 2019
Marvin Talsma – a city boy who went back to his farming roots. Starting off at Western University studying history and politics, Marvin made his move into agriculture retail in his late teens. Looking back now it seems it was inevitable as farming was an untapped part of his DNA; his father started as a bookkeeper in ag retail and continued with various roles over his 35 plus years in the ag industry, and his grandfather was a dairy farm worker before him.
The London, Ontario native says he was driven to work with farmers because of their passion for what they do. Marvin carries that passion in his current role as Field Product Specialist with The Climate Corporation in Canada, now a subsidiary of Bayer.
Marvin started with Monsanto in 2007 and the company has since been acquired by Bayer. During this time, he has held a couple different roles, including the role of Climate Business Manager. His current position as Field Product Specialist includes trial work that calls for the testing of new features and new compatibilities that will directly affect Canadian farmers in the field.
“My role is really about the knowledge transfer. It’s about being the expert and transferring those insights to our team, so they can pass them on to the dealer network and our sales team. It just filters down from there.”
Marvin values that his new position allows him to work hand-in-hand with employees and customers. “It’s more of a support role and that’s what really drew me to it. I’m comfortable being behind-the-scenes offering support and it plays to my strengths. Being a Climate Business Manager beforehand allowed me to bridge out and gain even more knowledge about farming and Climate FieldViewTM.”
“One of the great things about working for The Climate Corporation is that there’s a huge opportunity to learn and undertake different tasks. There’s never a dull moment.”
As an agronomist for almost 10 years, Marvin is excited to be a part of the technological advancements in agriculture production. His first introduction to the FieldView platform was as an agronomist for DEKALB®. He recalls seeing it in action in the field and instantly recognizing it as a great tool in his agronomy role; helping farmers learn what was going on in their fields.
“We had the FieldViewTM Drive that we could plug into a farmer’s combine and gather information. We harvested and viewed plots with it that first fall. We had farmers purchasing a brand-new hybrid that they hadn’t grown before and they were able to do a side-by-side trial on their own fields. It was a great way to capture information and then do some evaluation,” says Marvin.
Marvin acknowledges there’s some resistance to digital agriculture in 2018. “I’m not a tech guy. What I take a lot of pride in is I didn’t necessarily grow up in this culture; everything I’ve learned has been on the job, in the field, with different people from the industry mentoring and teaching me,” says Marvin. “It’s the same with Climate FieldView. I’m not afraid of grabbing something and trying it out. I find it very exciting because I think there are things we can do today to help farmers identify what is going on in their fields, and help manage what they’re doing as simply as possible.”
Marvin says farmers are known to be on the forefront of technology. He states a successful farmer must be good at adapting to change, and digital agriculture is the next significant step in the agriculture industry. The struggle has been what to do with all this information available to farmers and how to use it.
“FieldView has given us a tool to bring data into one place. It gives farmers and the people they work with the opportunity to look at the information, break it down, answer questions and make changes to their on-farm practices. Having data available in one place is a tangible way to use that information,” says Marvin.
Marvin adds that some farmers still think that capturing crop data is complicated and overwhelming due to the tools used in the past. “The real exciting moments are when you go out and plug the FieldView Drive into a piece of equipment, take five minutes for set-up, and then show the farm they’re gathering data - whether it’s planting, spraying or harvesting.”
Marvin says that a lot of value comes from the simplicity of collecting the data with the drive, and the ease of analysis. He points to the strength of the Field Region Report and Yield Analysis tabs in the full app version where you can report by hybrid, field or soil type if you have geo-referenced soil information.
As with farming and technology, Marvin keeps welcoming career opportunities in agriculture as they develop. “If you were to tell any of my high-school classmates that I was working in ag for a big company, they would laugh. It was unexpected…sometimes I think, if I could do it all over again, would I do it differently? But then, without my experience, I wouldn’t have developed the skills for hands-on and the knowledge I have of farming in Ontario,” he points out, smiling. “I have a different perspective this way.”