Making the Most of Growing Season 2019

This spring has certainly been one for the history books. Between the flooding and excessive rainfall that eastern parts of Canada have experienced and the lack of rainfall in the west, it’s been a frustrating year in farming for those who depend on Mother Nature to be a decent business partner. When you add in trade and commodity price concerns, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed and not sure which way is up.

However, the agriculture industry has a proud history of perseverance. It’s never been for the weak or timid. It’s for those who know how to grab a rope, tie a knot and hang on. But what does that look like in a year like this? How can we make the most of what we’ve been handed?

1) Control what you can

While this spring can easily be summed up as challenging, don’t let anxiety paralyze your ability to make the best strategic choices for your operation. You can empower yourself to make the best decisions possible by coupling your intuition with data and digital insights to better understand where to invest money this year and where to cut it. Some examples:

  • Satellite imagery can help you keep tabs on the acres you have planted and best protect your profit potential.
  • Knowing which fields to scout first with automatic field rankings that get delivered straight to you inbox can save you time and energy as you start your day.
  • Utilizing tissue sampling and variable rate nitrogen can ensure you’re not over or under-applying and whether or not you need a fungicide application this year.
  • Getting a handle on your true break-even on a field-by-field basis can help guide your marketing and storage decisions and when you’ve reached a point of diminishing returns with input applications.

And remember that it’s these small strategic management decisions that can add up in a big way. Danny Klinefelter, former Professor at Texas A&M University and TEPAP Director, says it best with his 5% Rule for improving farm profitability, which illustrates that a 5% increase in the price received, a 5% decrease in costs and a 5% increase in yield will often produce more than a 100% increase in net returns. Focus on incremental improvements, and empower yourself with wins where you can get them to power through 2019.

2) Keep Perspective

This isn’t the first bad planting season, and it won’t be the last. We all know the ag industry is cyclical in nature, and there will always be highs and lows. While this is a stressful time for many, there are pockets of good and opportunities for improvement every day. Be your own advocate and put yourself in the driver’s seat.

In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins writes about the Stockdale Paradox, named after former vice-presidential candidate James Stockdale. During the Vietnam War, Stockdale was a high-ranking naval officer held as a prisoner of war for over seven years. Routinely tortured with no reason to hope for his release, Stockdale survived his captivity by embracing reality, but also maintaining healthy optimism. He explained his outlook as the following: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

While farming in 2019 is a far cry from being a POW, Stockdale’s point of view is something we can all learn from. It’s important to accept that 2019 has been a rough year, but that there are paths forward. Agriculture is an industry where continuous learning and innovation are often rewarded, so take time to evaluate your options, do your research, and empower yourself with the best information you can get. Combining optimism with due diligence to ensure you’re making choices this season based on numbers and logic — not emotion, fear, or an attachment to the way things have always been done — will pay dividends for you and your entire operation.

Want to learn more about how Granular helps farmers use software to make more profitable and sustainable decisions? Check out the Granular advantages and request a demo and see how we can help this year.

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In Search of a Leader!

Jolene Brown, CSP, CPAE, December 27, 2019