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How to make farm data work for you

Too much information can lead to analysis paralysis. Here’s how to avoid that problem.

When it comes to the amount of information you can find today in agriculture, it certainly seems like there’s an enormous amount. It’s definitely more than previous generations would have had access to in their farming careers.

With advances in GPS technology in farm machinery, farmers can collect and access endless amounts of data about fields and yields. Widespread internet access has allowed for a great deal of news information that impacts agriculture and the ag markets, as well as analysis about the markets themselves, to reach farmers. New advances in software for the farm’s financials can lead to a huge number of reports and details that can be generated about the farm operation.

Finding insight

Having more information available about important areas of the farm business isn’t a bad thing. The trouble starts more around having too much data or too much information. It can be difficult to know where to begin to dive in, for example, with the data that can be collected from farm machinery precision ag technology.

Today’s farm leaders don’t necessarily have time, especially in busy seasons, to comb through endless amounts of information. And it’s probably a good idea to not get stuck in the data, especially if you tend toward “analysis paralysis,” or the inability to decide due to wanting more and more information.

The big question is: How can farm leaders find real insight from all this information – that they can actually put to use in decision-making for their operation? What are some ways of thinking that can help leaders not drown in all the data, but to get to the heart of what really matters and help drive good decision-making and success?

Drilling down

Here are a few ideas farmers can use to help cut to the chase.

  • Focus on what matters most. First work to determine what type or types of data or information is going to make the biggest difference in the decision you need to make. Understand and come to terms with the fact that it’s not possible to look at every single piece of information – and doing so wouldn’t really help you in the long run anyway!
  • Keep your own operation and goals in mind. To help personalize and collect information, recognize the uniqueness of your farm operation and its needs – they’re going to be different from those of your neighbors. The type of data, information or metrics that will be most relevant to your farm will be unique as well.
  • Work with an advisor. An advisor can help you drill down to the information that’s most relevant to your operation. A third-party advisor who knows and understands your unique farm operation and business goals can be a critical part of a good decision-making process – whether that’s agronomic decisions, financial questions or marketing decisions.

Our team of market advisors come alongside farm leaders in the process of creating marketing plans and executing decisions. You can get in touch with us for more information or get a free two-week trial of our marketing information service at www.waterstreetconsulting.com.

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