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What’s the value of learning on the farm?

Learning makes a big difference when it’s a core value.

Darren Frye, CEO

March 27, 2023

4 Min Read
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As you know from leading your operation, the pace of farming and the amount of technology involved seem to increase nearly every single year. For top farms that want to stay on top of improvements and efficiency, it can be a lot to deal with in terms of the sheer amount of change and learning.

There are some farms that seem to handle all the new things coming at them really well – and I’ve seen that they tend to have one thing in common. What’s their secret? They place a high value on learning – throughout their entire operation.

That means learning is highly valued in the farm’s overall culture. It starts with the leader’s stance and the actions others see them take around always continuing to learn more. From the leader’s example and demonstrated values, everyone in the operation comes to view continual learning as essential, as just “something we do around here.”

Work it in

This mindset is a huge asset to both the operation as a whole and to each individual involved. When everyone on the farm is constantly working to learn more and improve their skills, the whole farm will benefit and find more success. Plus, each person is developing themselves and their individual skill set, as well as developing a flexible mindset that’s more open to learning – and to change as well.

I’ve written about this in the past but it’s so important that I want to emphasize it again: The primary sustainable competitive advantage that a business can have is to learn faster and adapt more quickly than other similar businesses.

Building learning into your operation – both as a value and by planning opportunities to learn – is key to finding success through that sustainable competitive advantage. Here are a few ways to incorporate it further on your farm.

Three ideas

  1. It starts with the leader(s). As the saying goes, more is caught than taught. That’s true when it comes to what others observe in the farm’s leaders. When employees and others see that the farm’s leaders are always working to learn more and to improve their skills, they observe that value being lived out and then will often be more open to learning new things and developing their own skills further. The attitude that the leader can adopt and live out is: “I’ve never arrived – I’m always trying to learn more.”

  2. Consider the future. When it comes to what people on the farm should prioritize learning in their careers, start by thinking about the farm in the future – say, 3-5 years down the road. What will the farm need? Where are farms heading in general? What’s going to likely be even more important to farm business success in that near-term future? Then consider what that will mean for each person’s role on the farm – how will it be changing? What skills will they need to increase and sharpen? That will likely look different for each person depending on their role, so work individually with them to get a plan in place.

  3. Consider key areas. Also take time to think about the aspects of your operation that could benefit most from learning more. For leaders, especially consider the business side of your operation since that’s one of your primary areas of responsibility. Where could you dig into learning a bit more – for a major benefit to your operation? That might look like learning more about financial terminology and business documents that your lender uses and practice speaking using “their” language. Or it might mean learning more about market fundamentals, technicals, or different marketing and merchandising tools with an advisor, so you can have more knowledge and tools for your marketing plans.

Marketing in 2023

What do you want to learn about marketing for 2023? Now is the right time to be learning and making marketing plans for this year and beyond. A market advisor can help with providing education, marketing tools, and market planning for your unique operation and your future goals.

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

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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