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Learning at Every Stage

by Jul 31, 2018Agronomically Speaking

Agriculture is a seasonal business due to the nature of the crops that we grow. Farmers understand that each crop stage demands various activities to steward yield as we approach the finish line – harvest. In my role as agronomist for Ag Leader I try to establish a mutual learn/teach relationship with customers, dealers, and Ag Leader staff. When we can learn together and from one another at every phase of our cropping systems, new opportunities emerge almost effortlessly. My challenge to all farmers is to learn at every stage. Stage can mean different things such as crop maturity, season, maturity of the business, or future planning.

How do you learn? How do you evaluate past performance? How do you learn in-season? Most of us build habits and tend to gravitate towards something we are comfortable with or have a natural strength for. While there isn’t anything wrong with “tried and true”, a periodical reality check is always in order for those of us that want to press on and achieve success. Cellular connectivity is opening up pathways to help farmers consume information in different ways than before. If you haven’t looked into the BR1 Mini Modem or AgFiniti yet, I encourage you to do so. To borrow a phrase from Displays Product Manager Joe Holoubek, perusing information from your own farm using these tools can “take a gut feel, and make it real.” In the end, we farmers need confidence to reinforce the decision-making process in this age of price volatility, expensive inputs, and disproportionate costs of operation. Confidence is built through reliable information easily digested at each stage of our agribusinesses.

Where can you decrease your cost of production by 5%? How can you increase yield by 5%? Asking these type questions using the “5% Rule” forces us to establish learning goals that drive us toward a tangible piece of information we can use in-season or for a new crop year. Is the fall the only time you can learn what worked and what didn’t? I would argue otherwise. Are you a young farmer just getting started or someone looking to retire and pass the torch? Is your corn at brown silk or is your cotton at pinhead square? Did you harvest wheat in June or are you planting double crop beans now? Maybe you took acreage out of row crop to plant an orchard? What will your farm look like in 5 years? How will you learn at every stage?