Last week I had the privilege of speaking to farmers who attended the first of a series of Ag Edge meetings to be held by Water Street Solutions. My topic - farm technology - and I tried to outline key areas looking into the future for their operations.
However, my starting point is their cost accounting infrastructure. It's pretty hard to know your cost of production if you don't adapt an accrual mind-set, but the challenge ahead is having an accounting system that'll capture your in-field data and "parse" it properly across appropriate costs.
This is no simple challenge because you - dear reader - are using a range of accounting programs from Quickbooks to FBS to Red Wing and more. So you start with that base of various tools and the next step is to connect it to one of a number of data gathering solutions from Raven, Trimble, John Deere, Case IH, Ag Leader, Leica, Topcon, Outback...you see what I mean.
And in talking to attendees at the event, as well as other farmers as part of a long string of interviews lately, this is a common theme. It is possible to get the job done, but it's going to take some computer muscle on your part. It also means starting the conversation with your dealer (of either accounting software or precision data gathering tools). You probably won't be the first, and you'll want to keep an open mind about the tools you use.
You may have to change accounting programs someday, or retool your precision ag tech. But if maintaining and growing your operation will rely on a higher level of data precision in the future, this kind of investment should be worth it.
This is not an easy task to embark on, and I would love to hear from readers who are working on the problem. Making connections will allow us all to learn ways to get over this next tech hurdle.