“Wheats on Your Mind”

Whether you are looking to catch up on the latest in the wheat industry, hear stories of Kansas wheat farming families or explore the larger world of wheat, the “Wheat’s on Your Mind” podcast has content for you!

Hosted by Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat vice president of research and operations, the biweekly broadcast discusses wheat research projects, the latest in the domestic and global wheat markets, policy news like tracking the coming Farm Bill, wheat crop conditions, management decisions and more.

“Wheat’s on Your Mind is meant to be both educational and entertaining, showcasing the stories and people in the wheat world,” Harries said. “We want to reach millers to consumers and everyone in between, so tune in today!”

Two recent episodes walk through the importance of good communication strategy in promoting the U.S. wheat industry, whether by using analytics to better target consumers or by connecting Brazilian and American farmers.

The Podcast About a Podcast, Agro Connection

The latest episode of “Wheat’s on Your Mind” is a podcast about a podcast. More specifically, what started as a podcast to teach Brazilian farmers about American agriculture has evolved into a venture that connects people who want to push the boundaries of knowledge about agriculture.

Agro Connection is a team of young Brazilian agriculture scientists that produce podcasts and social media and guide specialized international agriculture tours. Harries sat down with Carlos Pires, one of the founders of Agro Connection, to learn more about the origins of this information-sharing work and a recent trip the group organized for members of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) program to dive deep into the heart of Brazilian agriculture.

The award-winning podcast started as a random thought discussed between friends over a beer. Today, Agro

Connection bills itself as an international information portal that connects people who want to push the frontiers of knowledge about agriculture. Agro Connections is an award-winning podcast with more than 9,000 downloads of 37 episodes in less than two years. Its YouTube videos have reached 4,600 subscribers and nearly 200,000 views. The group also runs two WhatsApp groups for about 500 Brazilian farmers, answering their daily questions about American agriculture, including crop rotations, soil fertility applications, inputs and technologies.

“There’s a lot of good information out there that we can take back to our country, so that was the main goal,” Pires said. “The idea was communication because I have a passion for that. My dream was always to find a position as a professor in research and extension, and the podcast was just part of that — a way I found to be connected with farmers in my country.”

As an extension of this communications effort, Agro Connection started connecting Brazilian and American farmers — first by taking Brazilians working or studying in the United States to visit farms. More recently, they flipped that work to taking Americans to Brazil, including the Kansas Agricultural and Rural Leadership Program.

“Brazil is one of the leaders in the use of biologicals and regenerative agriculture, so we have a lot of long-term notes with years and years of cover crops and very healthy soils,” Pires said. “So, we want to take Americans there to spend some time.”

Pires was raised in southern Brazil, where several of his family members work in agronomy, tracing back to the original family member who immigrated from Italy to Brazil. He recently received his doctorate in agronomy and soil science from Kansas State University and will take the next step in his career this summer at North Dakota State University. Learn more about his story and his goals for connecting farmers across the hemispheres at https://kswheat.com/woym-podcast-about-podcast-agro-connection.

EatWheat.org is a website that tells stories about wheat farmers, educates consumers and inspires creativity with wheat food recipes. The effort started in 2017 and was designed to bridge the gap between wheat farmers and consumers. In this podcast episode, Marsha Boswell, Kansas Wheat vice president of communications, walked Harries through how this wheat industry effort uses innovative strategies and platforms to educate consumers about wheat, its benefits and the farming process.

“For many years, wheat farmers have done a good job of telling what the health benefits of wheat foods are — folic acid, vitamins and minerals, a lot of that type of information,” Boswell said. “But what we haven’t always done is tell the story of how that wheat gets to your plate and the farmers that grow it. The main reason for EatWheat is to connect consumers and farmers with the food, how it’s grown, how it gets to them — that’s what we’re trying to accomplish with this program.”

A changing media landscape that shifted from print to digital and targeted advertising means it is harder for consumers to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to nutrition, farming practices, recipes and more. EatWheat.org uses strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics to better understand what information those consumers want, as well as drive traffic to wheat-related content. Equally as important to this work is storytelling, which helps connect consumers with the origins of their food, featuring farmer profiles and educational resources on wheat varieties and uses.

“The number one page that people come to is the ‘Six Classes of Wheat’ page,” Boswell said. “It ranks high on Google, which is beneficial to us because it brings people to the site and then they have the opportunity to learn more about farmers or find some recipes or learn other things about wheat. There are several other pages that do really well along the same lines of learning about wheat and how it’s grown.”

The combination of storytelling and analysis creates opportunities to create engaging content for challenging platforms like TikTok and Instagram to inspire consumers about wheat foods. Kansas Wheat takes these learnings to communicate with different audiences. This includes leveraging social media and digital content to target audiences with very different interests in the Kansas wheat industry from farmers to international customers.

Whether you are a farmer, a consumer curious about where your food comes from or someone interested in agricultural marketing, this episode offers a wealth of insights into the power of effective communication in bridging the gap between farm and table. Listen now at https://kswheat.com/woym-eat-wheat-marsha-boswell. 

Kansas Wheat promotes individual episodes on the organization’s social media channels, but listeners should subscribe so they don’t miss any of the excitement. Listeners can tune in wherever they listen to podcasts, including Apple or Spotify. Or check out the podcast’s website at wheatsonyourmind.com.