Clean water requires clear thinking

Everyone loves the wide green expanse of suburban lawns and the carefully manicured fairways and greens of golf courses. Or do they? While those of us who grew up in suburbia have become accustomed to these staples of the environment, the environment is not always so happy with the runoff that these vistas produce—especially when it comes to water quality and pending algae blooms.

For example, Lake Erie, which has always seemed to be ground zero when it comes to monitoring water quality, was well known for severe algae blooms and dead zones in the 1960s. The smallest Great Lake saw significant improvement in water quality after the 1972 federal Clean Water Act and the 1978 bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement which led to impressive reductions in phosphorus. However, now problems are on the rise once again. In 2011, the most severe algae bloom on record was recorded and in the fall of 2013 another toxic algae bloom caused the shut-off of a public water supply in Ohio. And more problems are predicted for this coming summer.

While the agricultural use of phosphate‐containing fertilizers which has increased as the acreage of farmlands has expanded over time has come under increasing fire for the situation, golf courses and residential runoff also contribute to the problem. Related to agriculture, the companies that are responsible for those fertilizers are beginning to promote sustainability initiatives. And farmers, who are making a difference to improve America’s water resources as they provide America’s food supply, have adopted nutrient use management practices which minimize nutrient runoff from their operations.

The next step is finding solutions for golf course and residential runoff. If they are designed with the environment and water quality in mind, a golf course or a backyard has the potential to be an active biological filter that generates clean water.

The first place to start with a golf course is where it is to be located. It’s easier to site the course in a place where environmental concerns can be minimized. Instead of looking at the vacant site only with the idea of how it would best suit the golfer, look at the site with an eye to protecting the environment.

Rain gardens for residential property offer an attractive way to soak up rain water. Creating an appealing area for birds and butterflies, they can improve local water quality by giving rainwater time to slowly percolate into the ground where impurities can settle out. They also can reduce local flooding. Most people don’t realize that because of the solid surfaces in a residential area such as streets, roofs, driveways, and sidewalks, the typical city block generates five times more runoff than undeveloped land. And this water that has picked up heat from pavement and other contaminants along the way ends up degrading our water supply.

The Barton Marketing Group which specializes in life sciences and agriculture can help get your message about ensuring the quality of our water supply to the audiences who need to hear it.

Digging sticks, hoes, mattocks, tractors, and… smartphones? The Evolution of Agrimarketing.

JuneNowThen-c5bae58aEver since the rise of farming around 9,000 B.C. fundamentally changed the way people have lived, new technologies have helped further the progress of agriculture. For example, the use of digging sticks, hoes and mattocks among people who were learning to till the land transformed farming. The story of agrimarketing and the technologies have furthered that field has a similar narrative. We have moved well beyond the days when one farmer told another about a new idea that worked.  Today, a wide variety of tools are at our disposal as we tell the story of the important role that agriculture plays in every aspect of our civilization.

Since 1905 when the University of Pennsylvania offered a course in “The Marketing of Products,” the growth of agrimarketing has paralleled the general field.  Print, radio, and television have all played a role along with targeted marketing, relationship marketing and guerilla marketing. We have learned that we must play the advocate with the general public because such a small percentage of the general public really understands where food comes from and how it is produced.  And since anti-agriculture groups are so passionate about concepts such as non-GMO-labeling, water usage and animal rights, if the general public is to understand the depth and breadth of those topics and others like them, it is the people who work in the field—no pun intended—who must provide them.  And we must learn to provide them in a channel that will best reach each audience we seek to reach.

New devices are joining the toolbox to make that job more effective every day.  I was not surprised to learn recently that 69 percent of farmers now use a Smartphone with that figure expected to rise to 87 percent by 2016. Twitter provides an avenue for short messages limited to 140 characters which appear on followers’ home pages and link to websites.  Facebook provides a venue for videos, photos and longer descriptions—including testimonials. Google+, LinkedIn, Yelp, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pintrest all have their place in a total agrimarketing program that increases the impact of crowdsourcing to provide immediate results on messaging.

Whether you are comfortable with all these new methods for executing a total marketing plan or if they sound like a foreign language to you, when I think about marketing today I am reminded of a song my sister used to sing when she was in Girl Scouts.  “Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other is gold.”  As we embrace the new media, we must not forget the old.

At the Barton Marketing Group, we specialize in life sciences and agriculture so we can help you craft a message with a holistic approach.  We will help you reach the audiences you need by using the best new tools available and continue to use the channels that have proven the test of time.

Point of Origin

hands-and-globeWater conservation is critical to life on earth. But as important as the conservation of water is, it is equally—if not more important—that the water we conserve is safe.  The specter of climate change and an ever increasing population that needs water not only for the hydration of crops and livestock, but for thirsty people as well, makes this the 21st Century’s major challenge.

Regulation and sustainability are key when it comes to water. Pollution can come from many sources and some of them many not be immediately obvious.  Of course we all remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill—also known as the BP oil spill or the BP oil disaster—that began on April 20, 2010, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.   As you can imagine with an event of such notoriety, regulators were able to identify the point of origin and levy the appropriate fines and penalties.

But as dramatic as that spill and the subsequent cleanup efforts were, it is important to remember that pollution can come from many sources that don’t make the headlines. For instance, some such as fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides are harder to diagnose. They come from places such as farm land, golf courses and suburban lawns.  It is important to remember that they helped to increase our food supply and enhance our environments.  But over the years, we have come to know that they do cause pollution.  Although the tributary network that feeds the Mississippi River is vast, there is absolute proof of pollution in the Delta dead zone.  Additionally, algae blooms in lakes and rivers impact marine life affecting the fishing industry for both food and sport.

But there is good news on more than one front.  The companies that are responsible for those fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides are beginning to promote sustainability initiatives. Although there is no standardized comprehensive definition for a sustainability initiative, there are three important features that distinguish a program as sustainable.  They are the effective use of material and energy, a shift away from non-renewable, non-biodegradable materials, and the prevention of emissions and contaminants from having a negative environmental impact.

And farmer heroes, who are making a difference to improve America’s water resources as they provide America’s food supply, have adopted nutrient use management practices which minimize nutrient runoff from their operations. To read their individual stories, go to

For millennia, the Earth’s fresh water supply has washed across the landscapes of the world supplied by rainfall, snow and glacial melt, runoff and infiltration. If telling the story of how you are working to improve the quality of that water supply for the hydration of crops and livestock, as well as for thirsty people is important to you and your business or organization, the Barton Marketing Group which specializes in life sciences and agriculture can help get your message to the audiences who need to hear it.

How Agrimarketing is Different

5199-golden-wheat-field-800x600Do you remember the television ad that shows a man on the phone with his doctor trying to get directions to do his own surgery? After listening for a moment, he says “Shouldn’t you be doing this?” We all want the best counsel when we engage a professional—and that includes marketing. And that’s why when you are communicating about agronomy to people who no longer understand who farmers are, what they do, and how the very civilization of the world depends on them, it makes sense to choose an agrimarketer to tell your story. 

Once upon a time most people lived close to the land. Because they grew their own food, no one had to tell them how vital agriculture was to their survival. Their lives were intertwined with the seasons and revolved around plowing, planting, growing and reaping. Even though they knew that some soils were more productive than others, they rarely examined them below the level where crops grew. Soil was something that would always be there—or so they thought.

When the discipline of soil science was born in 1870, soils began to be identified as independent natural resources, each with distinct properties resulting from a unique combination of climate, living matter, parent material, relief, and time. Coincidentally, when soil science was in its adolescence around the turn of the 20th Century, the basic concepts of marketing began to be explored. By the 1960s when the field of marketing was differentiated according to discipline, the marriage of these two fields resulted in the birth of agrimarketing.

Today just two percent of the total U.S. population works to produce, process and sell the nation’s food. Because such a small number of people have a connection to the land, when most people think about the food supply, they think about their local grocery store. But ultimately soil sustains life and is a finite natural resource.

Today, agronomists are the frontline warriors in the defense of civilization and the protection of the environment. Not only do they help to feed a hungry world, but they also have the power to inspire future leaders in this global struggle to maintain a safe, affordable and abundant food supply as well as a viable environment.

Barton Marketing Group specializes in life sciences and agriculture, I can help you reach the audiences that need to hear the stories that you have to tell.

Conventional Thinking.


You’ve got a booth at an upcoming convention. Now what are you going to do? You paid your money and committed your time to get you and your product out in front of people in your industry and you want to make the most of it. If you’ve never planned a booth before—and even if you have—you may be wondering what is the best way to stand out this time and make yourself and your service or product memorable.

Now is the time to remember that the important thing in the exhibit hall at a convention is not balloons and confetti or even a great giveaway.  And although creativity and entertainment may draw large crowds, depending on haphazard booth traffic does not guarantee results for your bottom line.

There are lots of reasons to have a booth at a convention.  You may want to generate buzz for a new product or service, or you may be looking for more sales leads, or you may want to increase your brand awareness.  Whatever your goal, you want to reach the right people—your target audience.  You are looking for people who will want to do business with you in the future.   So before you spend time on some outrageous gimmick that might make you memorable in the moment but won’t deliver the results you are after, consider these ideas:

  • Place a distinguishable advertisement in the official event program on either a daily tab or one of the covers.
  • Sponsor one or more of the technical sessions which highlight your product or service.
  • Research the pre-registration list of attendees including exhibitors.
  • Mail or email an invitation to specific attendees on this list and give them a reason to your visit booth.
  • Update your booth display with most relevant product information for this particular audience and provide a call to action which expires after the event.
  • Network with attendees AND exhibitors to collect industry knowledge while evaluating all contacts as potential prospects.
  • Prioritize your prospects so you don’t overwhelm your sales team with too many invalid leads.

Because Barton Marketing Group offers comprehensive professional marketing services specializing in life sciences and agriculture, we can help you plan your booth at your upcoming convention. Our significant expertise working with both corporate and not-for-profit organizations will help you build your brand, create enduring customer relationships and generate revenue. We can help you reach the audiences that need to hear the messages that will help you and your business communicate your solutions to the challenges facing agriculture.

Water, what’s the big deal?

water-drop-wtDo you take water for granted? Safe drinking water has become something that we have come to expect.  We turn on the tap and clean drinking water pours forth from the spigot.

But did you know that even in the 21st Century, people in other countries around the world are not so lucky.  Research indicates that nearly a billion people worldwide do not have access to safe clean drinking water.  And you might be surprised to find out that some places in the United States find themselves in the same situation. For example in Fairbanks, Alaska, water trucks deliver weekly water supplies to thousands of people who live without running water and indoor bathrooms because the year round permafrost prohibits pipes being laid underground.

When Samuel Taylor Coleridge published The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in 1798, private companies were still supplying fresh water to various parts of London from the River Thames and the River Lea just like they do to those dry cabins in Fairbanks today.  By the mid 19th Century when “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink” some of the most famous lines from that poem had become a popular quotation, a crisis point in the delivery of water had been reached because of frequent outbreaks of cholera arising from water pollution in those streams.

By the early 1900s, some cities began to use slow sand filtration, but it was disinfectants such as chlorine—which was first used in 1908—that played the largest role in reducing waterborne disease outbreaks such as typhoid, dysentery, and cholera.

Safe, clean water is indeed vital for life, not only for thirsty people, but also for the hydration of farm animals and crops. A primary focus on agriculture as we move into through the 21st Century and beyond is the availability of clean water.  Will climate change mean droughts and shifts in growing zones?  Protecting this important natural resource is everyone’s responsibility.

Here are some tips that can help:

  • Use less water to wash dishes.
  • Don’t let the tap run while you brush your teeth.
  • Run full loads when washing clothes.
  • Check faucets and pipes for leaks.
  • Use mulch around plants to retain moisture.
  • Connect a soaker hose to a rain barrel to slowly irrigate plants or a newly planted lawn.
  • If you must water your lawn, make sure only the lawn is being watered and not the house, the sidewalk and the street and water before the sun comes up.

Because Barton Marketing Group specializes in life sciences and agriculture, we can help you reach the audiences that need to hear the messages that will help you and your business communicate your solutions to the challenges facing agriculture including water conservation.