Have you ever wondered what technology development representatives (TDRs) spend their days doing? Or, why they are so important to growers? Through an interview with Chad Hermann, Technology Development Representative for Seminis, we’re sharing a few things you might not have known about a TDR.
What kind of background does a TDR have?
Chad has a background in weed science, with a Master’s Degree from Michigan State University, but the TDR team comes from varying backgrounds. Others are plant pathologists or entomologists, so the diversity of the team allows them to offer different expertise. This creates a collaborative environment where they can all work together and bring different ideas to the table.
How do TDRs fit with the rest of the team?
TDRs play a pivotal role in connecting the breeders with the sales team and growers. They have extensive product knowledge, as they’ve often seen the varieties in trials on multiple farms for many years before they’re even commercialized. Because they are out in the fields talking with growers, they’re able to report to the breeders on trends in the market and how products should be affected. They also inform sales and transfer the knowledge they learned from the field.
What are TDRs generally working on during the busy season?
They are meeting with breeders to walk through their early-stage trials and learn which plants have been successful enough to move on to technology development. TDRs will then take these varieties and evaluate them across multiple farms in many different environments — which means a TDR can drive around 60,000 miles a year! TDRs often take the product managers and breeders out to meet with growers and see the progress of the ongoing trials.
TDRs are also involved with university researchers, such as pathologists, to stay up-to-date on the most current technology, and work them to conduct third party research on Seminis products.
What do TDRs do in the off season?
In the fall and winter, they are often involved with conferences and extension meetings. They also take all the data they’ve accumulated throughout the summer and build reports for their growers that have been doing trials. With these reports, they’re able to go back and visit with the growers to give them an idea of what they learned, and also try to give them insight into the future pipeline so they know what’s coming up, and what they might want to order next planting season. They also support sales with new product launches during this time.
Why are TDRs important to growers?
They’re able to make suggestions to the growers on crops and seed varieties to consider growing, as well as provide agronomic tips based on trials, research and their expertise.
TDRs are always looking for the next best thing, such as genetics, which is very important to growers. They conduct trials and capture data to report their important findings back to the growers. This provides the opportunity for growers to see exactly how the varieties are performing on their farm, backed up by statistics.
Because of Chad’s background in weed science, he’s often able to help growers identify weeds and help them determine how to best manage them.
What is the best part about being a TDR?
According to Chad, showing growers the trials and how they’re performing successfully on their farms and building a trusting relationship with them is one of the best parts of being a TDR. If they make a suggestion, the growers most often listen to them because they know the TDRs are knowledgeable in these areas based on years and years of trials and research. One of the most rewarding parts is when the growers see the money they’re spending with Seminis is helping them become more profitable.
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