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.
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
You don’t have to look very hard to find chemical manufacturers’ advertisements claiming a significant positive yield response (15, 20, 25+ bu./ac) to using one of their fungicide products. There are many effective products on the market that provide good control and protection against fungal pathogens, but advertisement claims based on ‘average trial data’ aren’t guarantees for your fields. Three critical components (a host, favorable environment, and pathogen) must come together at the same time for a plant disease to thrive. These three components are commonly referred to as the Plant Disease Triangle. Management or alteration of just one of these components prevents or reduces disease severity.
Now is always a good time to start managing your farm decisions at a finer scale. If someone were to ask you if you know your cost of production, you’d likely have an idea. But, when I say it’s time to manage at a ‘finer scale,’ the question that precedes it is, “Do you know how much it costs you to raise a bushel of grain in each unique part of your field—that is—as your productivity changes across the field?”
At Premier Crop, we say that agronomy is local. Farmers say it too, though, because we have such a vast amount of data within our system.
"It's just putting data to work for you. You can drill down on which fields, and which parts of fields are most profitable, and which aren't. I think the more you help growers know their costs, the better managers they are." - Dan Frieberg
"Growers tell me they are frustrated with precision ag, they've invested in the technology. I tell them, 'You just want to put the pieces of the puzzle together to see exactly what the picture is.’ And they are relieved when Premier Crop can help."
- Katie McWhirter, Director of Training and Development
"We're all about tying the economics to the agronomics, which just means when we're adjusting nutrient rates and plant seeding rates and decisions about what we spend in different parts of the field, we're tying that out at the end of the year."
- Dan Frieberg
"I think people are really good looking at a 10,000-foot view, but when you dive deeper into the economics and profitability, that's where the rubber meets the road."
- Landon Aldinger, Farmer, Iowa Falls, IA