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What new tech is best for your farm?

To make good decisions, first decide what kind of farm are you working to create.

I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the new technologies, programs and ideas I could add to my farm. From what everyone says, it sounds like each new thing would add several bushels. What should I think about as I select new technology or approaches? – D.R., Indiana

It used to be that the farm leader’s focus was mainly on the basics of running a great farm. That hasn’t changed – we must still master the basics of production and management. But now we’re also exposed to so many new ideas that we could bring to our operation.

This is partly because there simply are more new ideas, and partly because there’s more access to those ideas through the internet. To make good decisions, first get clear on: What kind of farm are you working to create?

If you’re a commodity producer in agriculture, you need to stay focused on being the low cost per unit producer. Beyond that, there are all kinds of different ideas or programs that could be more important to some farms than others.

Ask: What is your operation good at? What is it not as good at? What are some areas where you believe you could improve? Take an inventory and maybe get some outside perspective on where you could have the biggest impact on either increasing production or reducing costs.

Let’s say you’re looking at 20 different new possibilities to bring to the farm. Each one of those ideas will involve some sort of cost – whether that’s learning something or buying something. However, each of the 20 things will have a different level of impact on the efficiency of your operation.

Before you fall in love with any new idea or technology, first understand: What problem is it solving for me? For my operation, how big of an impact will this have? Step back and evaluate which idea will make the biggest difference with the least amount of effort or investment.

This can mean needing to actively manage some emotions. Rather than being drawn toward ideas that seem “cool”, step back emotionally as the farm’s CEO and decide where your time, energy and money will be best invested to help reach your goals in the long run.

--Frye is president and CEO of Water Street Solutions. waterstreet@waterstreetconsulting.com
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