Three Ways to Run a Successful Harvest

What makes a successful harvest for Granular growers? Although every farm has a unique combination of crops, acreage, and labor, at Granular what we see in the most successful farms is how they apply the following three principles to ensure a successful harvest.

Train and coordinate the team to run a more efficient operation

“We win on efficiency.” That’s a phrase we hear all the time. In today’s environment, it pays to reduce costs anywhere you can. As Danny Klinefelter explains in his Sweat the Small Stuff blog, 5% differences in yield, price, and cost will drive significant increases in financial performance. The top 25% of farms were only 5% above average in these measures, whereas the bottom 25% were 5% below average.
To be in the top 25% of farms, all aspects of the operation must prepare and plan essential tasks. Here are best practices from some of our more prepared growers:

  • Test equipment and technology before the season begins
  • Train employees that are less skilled and cross-train other employees to create extra bandwidth on the team
  • Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that can be used every year, making jobs easier to assign and complete
  • Convert SOPs and tasks using digital and mobile methods, making them accessible on mobile or tablet devices and placing them in farm machinery, so instructions are always on hand
  • Collect daily work summaries to root out any sources of inefficiency, and if necessary, adjust their processes mid-harvest
  • Enforce safety rules, such as no texting while driving, to protect operators from accidents

High efficiency farms are focused on keeping the team in sync in order to buffer against the multitude of variables that they see in a given season. Successful teams maximize performance by keeping radio chatter to a minimum and communicating effectively to improve efficiency and avoid operator fatigue and risk.
“Not having to double-enter field records and scale tickets during harvest easily saves 30+ hours per week for out team and helps automate harvest reconciliation.” – Mark Bryant, Bryant Ag

Track the most accurate yield source throughout harvest

Tracking yield without the right tools can be both time consuming and inaccurate. Our most successful customers develop fast, easy ways to aggregate their data. They track yields digitally and eliminate many hours logging tickets, while also automatically generating custom yield reports. They often go further and collect moisture levels, quality metrics, and other activity costs to understand the full picture of their harvest season.
When it comes to harvest, these farmers think carefully about their sources of yield data, be it the combine, grain cart, or truck scales (read the recent blog about the Yield Data Errors Today, Yield Costs Tomorrow, which outlines the main benefits and drawbacks of each source). Whatever the source, successful farms know it pays to have accurate yield information.
Accurate harvest data gives these farmers a leg up on their operation:

  • Early seed ordering, since they can share their hybrid performance data with vendors
  • Negotiating next year’s rents with landowners based on accurate costs and yields
  • Sharing professional harvest reports with external partners such as banks and landowners develops sound business relationships

Monitor crop inventory balances and contracts in real-time

Manually checking inventory during the thick of harvest is not an efficient use of a grower’s time, nor does it guard against errors or theft. However, digital inventory tools and quality metrics management increases both efficiency and earnings potential.
When successful farms actively manage their inventory in real-time with the right digital tools, they have a clear, accurate understanding of their farm’s inventory position. This gives growers the confidence to market their crop more confidently, increasing their earnings potential.
“After checking the Granular Input Usage report, it showed only half of our crop protection chemicals were used, yet our inventory was nearly gone. Turns out the supplier only delivered half the order but charged us the full amount.” – Matt Smith, Smith Farms
By monitoring key quality metrics like test weight and protein, and managing accurate inventory based on those metrics, growers are able to sell their crop to the customer offering the highest premium. For example, growers in the wheat belt can fill contracts at a +$0.50/bu premium because they know exactly how much high protein inventory they have on hand and where it is.
Contract details vary quite a bit by date, volume, price, and status. Mistakes happen when delivering crops against contracts. For example, elevators may incorrectly spot a delivery or attribute a load to the wrong contract, which can result in thousands of dollars in losses. Successful farms reconcile throughout the season to save time unwinding messy mistakes down the road.

Working Hard or Working Smart?

Every farm must plan their operations, track accurate yield sources, and stay in tune with their crop inventory balances to be successful. Harvest season has so many moving parts, and successful farmers prioritize the factors that most acutely affect their bottom line. Top growers work smart by sustaining their advantage over time, allowing these gains to compound themselves as they find ways to consistently improve efficiency.
Using Granular can help improve your efficiency by turning your data into actionable insights that improve decision-making. Learn more about how Granular can help you run a more profitable operation.
(this blog updated the September 11, 2017 original)

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