"I’ve never enjoyed my work more."
With the dry, straight-faced humor only Germans possess, Hans-Jürgen Lutz slaps his leg and exclaims: "It is so simple! We have been trying to figure out how to engage growers when it was right there in front of our noses!" Excited about a recent farmer focus group, Lutz explains how he learned one of the biggest challenges for growers is communicating agronomic happenings in the field. As a result, BASF is now providing in-field microscopes in Brazil to identify disease and insect problems. Farmers can send images to their innovation specialist (a fancy name for a BASF field representative or agronomist) for further diagnosis. It’s part of Lutz’s role as head of the farmer insight and co-creation group to listen to farmers at the field level, and he has never been more energized. A farmer at heart with a long career at BASF, including stints as CEO of Crop Protection in Italy and director of the Southern European Business Unit, Lutz believes the world’s largest chemical company is just now building its strongest bond with farmers. "As a global company, our relationship to the farmer starts when we think about their needs," he says. "For years, we just sold product to farmers. Now we are working together to solve their agronomic and management problems."