As a farmer, you have so many decisions to make. It ranges from what inputs to use, when, at what rates, to what crops are the most profitable on different fields, to the logistics of how you'll plant, spray, harvest, till (or not) your fields. Not to mention the management of grain handling and storage and any employees you utilize. You're looking to build the most profitable business you can that is sustainable year over year.
In my area of Iowa, primarily in Mitchell County, the adoption of strip-till has been huge. There were three or four people that started in the early 2000s, along with my dad, that were pretty vocal about what they were seeing and what kind of benefits they were getting from reducing tillage and going to a strip-till pass. I would love everybody to switch to strip-till and then to no-till down the road, but I understand not everyone is in that mindset. Many growers want to keep doing things the way they have always done things. That’s not always bad, but from a long-term farming standpoint, I believe there are benefits to doing things differently when it comes to soil health and keeping soil around for the next generation of farmers. It's a mindset change, and it has to be the grower’s decision.
Fertilizer prices are on the rise, which leaves growers seeking to better manage their input costs. When it comes to planning for 2022, you may have a ton of questions rolling in your head such as: How can I manage costs? Is soil sampling actually worth the investment? Does variable rate fertilizer really pay?
I was recently reading an article in Crops and Soils titled, Assessing On-Farm Economics of Soil Health, and I immediately knew I was going to enjoy the article. One of the first sentences states: "Producers often comment that economics drive farm management decisions." This statement is so true! I would contend that economics drive all decisions. Using your data to discover economic insights and in turn, using that new knowledge to make more confident decisions is imperative.
Foundations of agronomy and geography are the starting place for data-driven decisions.
I believe data driven decisions will power change in every aspect of crop production. Your data can be a valuable business asset that leads to greater profitability. Here are two reasons your data will lead to greater profitability:
- Yield limitations
Technology is great… when it works like it’s supposed to. Whether it’s your cell phone, computer or agriculture equipment, we’ve all had our fair share of battles with technology. Like it or not, technology isn’t going away. In fact, it’s going to continue to grow and become even more prevalent in our lives, even in agriculture. We see this every year in agriculture as we continue to add technology to our planters and combines. Monitors continue to become more complex, and tractors are driving themselves. So, where do we go from here?
I was meeting with a grower who asked the question, ‘Is the direction of Premier Crop going from a prescription company to an analytics company?’ My answer was: ‘Premier Crop has always been about analytics. We are not only a company known for analytics, but what to do with the information that is received within the data, in those analytics.
Variable rate seed prescriptions have been a topic of conversation since planter capabilities have increased and seed companies look to increase the value of their recommendations. Yet the farmgate, conversations have had a range of reactions to its success.
At this time of the year, it’s easy to feel like yields are largely a function of weather - temperature and rainfall. Over the years in hundreds of grower meetings, I’ve heard that sentiment repeatedly. If you are inclined to think that way, think about this scenario.
Do you remember the 90s? I was an elementary student, probably about 7 when my parents bought our first computer. I remember listening to the dial up tone to get on the internet and play the math video games that my mom had found. I also remember the incessant pop ups that also came with 90s internet. Sometimes, that’s how I feel about precision ag these days. There are a lot of pop ups that are flashy and use all the right buzz words wanting you to ‘pick me, pick me, pick me.’ However, there are several things about precision ag that these companies often leave out of their messaging that can be surprising. 5 of those things that can often surprise people are: