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Finance First: Focus on farm goals to avoid drowning in data.

Darren Frye, CEO

April 1, 2024

3 Min Read
Man on ipad standing in field
Getty Images/Hill Street Studios

It seems there’s no end to the data that farm leaders can collect about their operations. There’s a large volume of data available to farmers now, which can lead to a lot of good things.

Data can help people on the farm make even better decisions, as it provides helpful insights. What leaders find out might even bring them to make a different choice than what they had done in the past or what they thought they’d decide to do at first glance.

Data can also help farm leaders learn more information about each field and how it’s producing. Very detailed information down to small field sections is widely available today. It’s amazing to think about the type of data farms can get about their ground. The financial data that farms can obtain is also very helpful when it comes to making farm decisions.

Drowning in data?

With this large amount of information can come some new issues, however. Often, farm leaders might feel that they’re “drowning” in their data. There’s so much of it and it can become difficult to sort through it all to get to what you need, not to mention interpret what it means.

What you really want are insights that lead to action so you can improve your operation’s success, yet it often seems like there’s an endless amount of data to wade through first.

How can farms focus on what they want – getting the right insights about their operation that can help with decision-making – without getting bogged down in a seemingly endless stream of data? Here are three questions that may help when it comes to sorting it out.

Three tips to sort farm data

  1. What questions are you trying to answer about your farm? Narrowing this down can help you focus where it will most greatly help your operation. Do you need to know more detailed information about your fields or about your farm’s finances? A good place to start is where you would like to have greater insights to help make decisions to improve your operation and its level of success.

  2. What areas have the greatest impact on your operation’s success? These are the main areas where turning some levers will result in the largest impact. Insights in these areas are especially valuable. Think production, marketing, and your farm’s financial metrics and decisions.

  3. What does all of this data mean? Getting the data together is one thing – and interpreting it and developing actionable insights based upon it is another task altogether. You may want to partner with a trusted advisor for your farm. Depending on what data you’re reviewing, that could be an agronomist, a market advisor, a lender or financial advisor.

Farmers have found that getting some third-party perspective from our market advisors has helped ease their minds. The advisors help farmer clients with planning and execution around marketing decisions and help keep them up to speed on the current rapidly-changing grain market situation – and how it impacts their operation.

Get a free two-week trial of our marketing information service (MarketView Basic). Your free trial includes regular audio and video updates, technical analysis, recommendations and more. Learn more about our market advisor programs and offerings at

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About the Author(s)

Darren Frye

CEO, Water Street Solutions

Darren Frye grew up on an innovative, integrated Illinois farm. He began trading commodities in 1982 and started his first business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting. In 1994 he started a consulting business, Water Street Solutions to help Midwest farmers become more successful through financial analysis, crop insurance, marketing consulting and legacy planning. The mission of Finance First is to get you to look at spreadsheets and see opportunity, to see your business for what it can be, and to help you build your agricultural legacy.

Visit Water Street Solutions

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