Ready to knock your precision management strategy out of the park this spring? First, lock down access to the right guidance system, agronomic advice and farm data software platform. Then, make sure they’re working together like a winning team. It’s a triple whammy that could drive your farm’s productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability to a whole new level. Today’s most successful farmers tend to have a few things in common: They embrace technology that promises a solid ROI, they understand the value (both time and money) of tracking farm data, and they seek advice from objective agronomy experts to help maximize yield potential.
Striking the right balance between these three key components is emerging as a top priority for growers heading into the 2017 crop season. “At the end of the day, we need to make sure the hardware and the software are enabling better agronomy. It’s not enough just to have software that works, and hardware that works,” says Markus Braaten, manager of agronomic precision services for the Agri-Trend Knowledge Team. “It also applies in the reverse — you could have the best agronomy in world but if you can’t deploy it through technology, you’re hooped as well. So there’s a balance.”
Growers today stand to fetch the same price for some commodities as they did a decade ago, which is making farm margins tighter than ever. At the same time, farmers are dealing with greater volatility in cost structure, as well as higher overall costs. “It’s more difficult to be profitable on a farm today than it was 10 years ago,” says Braaten. “There is significant pressure on growers’ margins and as a result, they are looking for strategies to be more profitable.”
From Precision Ag to Decision Ag
Jordan Wallace spends a great deal of time helping farmers implement just such strategies. Wallace, a Trimble Ag Hardware Reseller based in a farming community south of Ottawa, Ontario, co-owns GPS Ontario with his father Morley. Wallace’s team makes sure growers’ precision ag equipment and software are ‘talking’ to each other, and that the result is smarter (more profitable) decision-making.
This is where Agri-Trend comes in, the agronomy consulting company Trimble Inc. acquired in late 2015. “When Trimble purchased Agri-Trend, internally at GPS Ontario we had concerns,” says Wallace. “We wondered what it would mean for our business. Where would we fit in?” Today, Wallace’s concerns have been laid to rest. After talking to and working with members of Agri-Trend’s network of Agri-Coaches — agronomy consultants who work with farmers — he says the synergies are clearly evident.
In fact, he is now leveraging those synergies to grow his own business and better serve his customers. “The reorganization that put forth [Trimble Ag Software] resolves a lot of the issues that our growers faced on the hardware side,” Wallace says. “Now they have access to a cloud-based system that has a seamless mobile interface that allows us to effectively access the hardware data and eliminate double entry of data.” Adding agronomy expertise to the equation helps transform theories about precision ag into executable strategies that boost farmers’ yields and drive ROI. “The result is analytical information that can and will be used by their local agronomist or crop consultant to help make input decisions in a timely manner,” Wallace explains. “It also opens the possibilities for growers who don’t have a person on the books to be their agronomist. We can recommend an option that seamlessly integrates into their operation and provides them with answers on what to do, where to learn more and what to look for in the field.”