In farming and a pandemic – having the right denominator matters
Almost everything related to the Covid-19 pandemic frustrates me. From the ease at which the rich and famous can get tested while “normal” people are told just to stay home, to the media’s biases from opposite perspectives.
I live in Iowa, and earlier in the week, our governor and the state epidemiologist held a press conference on Covid-19. Part of their messaging was that not everyone that has the Covid-19 symptoms needs to be tested. The state epidemiologist said that 80% of us won’t have severe symptoms from Covid-19 and will recover fine at home.
I understand those messages and know they are being echoed across the country. We have a shortage of test kits, so it makes sense to use them for the most vulnerable cases.
But since our business, Premier Crop, is all about using data to drive decisions, I also understand that having quality data, and in this case, the right denominator matters.
Here is an example of recent Covid-19 analytics for the world.
11,277 deaths (numerator)/258,419 confirmed infections (denominator) = 4.36% world death rate
What if the “Iowa message” on who needs to get tested (for understandable reasons) is being repeated across the US and around the world? What if we are dramatically under counting/testing the infected population? What if, at the time of that analysis, there were actually one million people with the Covid-19 infection in the world and the death rate is significantly lower?
I don’t have an “agenda” in the Covid-19 debate, but I get data analytics. How you measure is directly connected to how you manage. Bad data equals bad analytics equals mis-informed and sometimes wrong decisions. The ‘denominator’ matters!
Let me share an ag data analytics example below from one of our dashboards – benchmarking one of a grower’s 58 individual fields vs the entire farm operation. This field’s seed cost per acre (the denominator) was one of their highest at $107.34/ac – their seed costs/acre ranged from $97.48/ac up $112.03/ac. But when evaluated using, what I would argue is the right denominator, seed cost/bushel produced, this field was almost their lowest at $0.47/bu produced.
How many conversations with lenders this winter have ended in frustration because of a one-sized-fits-all per acre spending limit on inputs. I think it’s time that we change how we measure our farming business. Everything agronomic is economic and we can measure and manage both.
We can help you use your precision ag equipment and your data to stretch your input investments to the maximum in each part of each of your fields.
The pandemic analytics we are seeing every day in the news can have the effect of de-humanizing the sorrow and heartache that families are feeling as they battle illness and sometimes lose loved ones. We are privileged to work with many multi-generational family farms and we know how important that older generation is to the farm and to the family. Stay safe and keep all of your loved ones safe.