The increasing importance of farm data, integration across platforms and different industry game changers were strong topics discussed at the Crop Intelligence Annual Summit.
The Industry Panel featured a cross-section of experts that work with Crop Intelligence farmers to help them leverage data and make them more profitable. The panelists included Tyler Kessler, agronomist and owner of Kessler Ag Ventures, Carl Veikle of Veikle Agro Inc., market coach Derek Squair, Darcy Herauf, Director at FCC and Grant Michelson, Agronomist and owner of AgVantage Solutions.
Q: What is the most difficult financial, agronomic, or marketing decision you or your customers face?
- Kessler thinks that deciding not to re-seed after a frost event is a hard call to make and one that lead to a lot of lost sleep for him and his customers in 2019.
- Veikle has found that having the right cash flow is always a challenge and is likely to only get worse. He hates to see customers miss out on an opportunity because of cash flow.
- Herauf has seen where there is opportunity to share data between platforms. Currently, there are apps like the Weather Network, Crop Intelligence, Field Connect and John Deere Operations Center that are collecting useful data. But while these apps do a great job of gathering and interpreting data, they haven’t yet found a way to marry this data with the other platforms’ data. He included that a single input that flows to many platforms is an innovation that he would like to see.
- Squair has seen challenges with protein content and capitalizing on premiums. The protein content of wheat is becoming increasingly important to end users and he doesn’t want to see good farmers miss out on protein premiums.
- Michelson has found that profit margins are shrinking, and he hopes to see them increase while minimizing risk.
Q: How do you envision technology and big data playing a role in your business in the near future?
- Squair thinks that farm records will only be more important in the very near future as traceability will influence the ability to sell to certain buyers.
- Herauf stated that farmers should have the choice of where their data goes—adding that there are some companies who share their data, whether or not consent has been given by the farmer.
- Veikle believes that credit availability will be very important. Good records and data that your neighbour doesn’t have may be the difference between your ability to buy (inputs or other) at the right time.
- Kessler feels that the industry is on the verge of a very exciting time—moving from a time of static data to putting the data to use. He currently runs a minimum of nine apps for his customers’ data. Kessler added that there is still a need for this data to be integrated in order for us to see cost of production on a precision ag scale—not just on a field level.
Q: If you had to identify a game changer in yours or your customers’ business what would it be?
- Kessler has found that for both himself and his customers, the game changer has been a shift in thinking of agronomy. They have moved past conversations specifically about products to a broader discussion about what tools can they access to achieve their goals. He added that, in the past, their yield goals were based on “wants” and are now being based on science and doing incrementally better than previous years.
- Veikle thinks that farm data has already been a game changer and that it will be even more powerful when programs begin to integrate their data with other programs.
- Herauf explained how all of the data that Crop Intelligence calculates and records used to be processed either by hand or not at all. An app that now does all of this work and holds a history of the data has become a huge time saver for farmers. This allows farm managers to focus on their highest value work, such as management and decision making, rather than spending time on data input.
- Squair believes that estimating yields with greater accuracy is a huge step in predicting the market, adding that two bushels per acre across Western Canada can equate to a $1.00 per bushel difference.
- Michelson has seen elemental sulphur become a huge game changer for his customers—economically, agronomically and logistically. He has also seen good results with sub-soiling to improve small areas of their land base. He added that the ability to collaborate with other professionals has also been beneficial.