Manage Your Seed Investment

Posted by Sarah Windhorst on 8/20/20 8:16 AM
Sarah Windhorst

As average farm size grows, farmers hear more and more about the data and technology available to their operation. Farm management decisions are increasingly driven by these layers of data. Yet, there is undoubtedly an emotional side to many input decisions--and for good reason. Simply put, we are all still human and crave relationship. If a world that is supposed to be in quarantine has taught us nothing else, it is the truth of that statement. The need for human interaction has and will continue to drive us to desire closeness to others. Business done without handshakes and smiles, a world where virtual meetings reign supreme, is a tricky world to navigate. As more and more buying decisions move online, how will farmers adapt?

In the farming community, one of the places the desire for relationship is so evident is in the seed buying decision. Every farmer approaches their seed purchase a little different, but for many, it's highly relational.  Who you buy from sometimes matters more than what you buy. The level of trust between a seed salesman and their grower shows when local knowledge trumps big company research data.

Knowing that many seed purchasing decisions happen this way often means growers walk into the winter planning months with only half of the seed equation solved. They’ve planned the right maturities, trait packages, and hopefully price, but might still not know exactly where each variety will go on their farms. The second half of the equation is placement, and surprisingly tends to be uncoupled from the purchase. So, the next question is, "What resources should I use to decide where to place my seed?"

For one Premier Crop Grower, this is where the data comes in. Unbiased, local, variety performance data to be specific. And the best part? The seed salesman gets in on the discussion too.

In trying to place seed, they’ll have to think about quite a few factors ranging from maturity, planting/harvest timing, seed care decisions (insecticide, fungicide), soil type and environmental related such as drainage, soil productivity, disease and insect history. Each of these factors plays an important role in the overall economic outcome. 

Because this grower understands that high yields are the ultimate path to profitability, they want to start by understanding what the real-world yield potential is for each variety. Through localized group benchmarking, they gain a view of what's possible for the varieties they're planting against a similar group of Premier Crop Growers. It's nice to know where they stand against a group, but yield alone doesn't tell the whole economic story…

premiercrop_manageyourseedinvestment-1

The next question for that grower is, how did a variety compare when they added everything they spent on inputs to produce that grain (seed + chemicals + fertilizer + operations) and subtracted that from their total bushels x grain sale price, to see what they'll have leftover to pay for land and management costs. At Premier Crop, we call that a Yield Efficiency score and use it as a way to compare fields, farms, and inputs on an equal playing field.

Rather than just yield, they get to see a chart like this for their varieties:

premiercrop_manageyourseedinvestment2-1

With that view, they can understand exactly what it cost them when their varieties completely missed the mark in years past.  It quickly leads to a discussion around two key questions:

  1. Which hybrids performed and which hybrids missed the mark, and where were they? (i.e., let's repeat or avoid those factors next year)
  2. When my yield efficiency for a hybrid was way below the group average, what's the underlying cause?  Am I spending in the wrong areas?

Both of these questions can and will be clearly answered for this Premier Crop Grower through further exploration of the data.

As a grower you have the opportunity to manage your seed investment. The seed purchase is just the first of many steps. It's up to you to foster that investment by placing and managing it correctly, and to do so it's imperative to know as much about that variety as you can before it goes in the ground. With Premier Crop's wealth of crop input information available, you (and your seed salesman) can dive into the details to solve the seed equation and ensure you're maximizing profits through correct seed placement.

 

Topics: seed selection

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Premier Crop Systems, based out of Des Moines, IA, started in 1999 to deliver better agronomic decisions through data analysis that lead to higher yields, increased profits and more sustainable practices for customers. 

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