Tough Decisions

Tough Decisions from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Mike Zwingman

by Mike Zwingman

There comes a point in time during every harvest where you really need to be in two, if not more, places at once. This year is no different. With all the moisture we’ve had, we have issues in both our corn and soybean fields, some of them nearly critical in nature. Now, I know by the time you read this we will and should be back to running in the field. It is not the decision itself that I want to talk about today, but rather, the process in making these non-linear decisions.

In a highly technical age, agriculture is looking to digital solutions to most, if not in some cases but all our biological system problems. The problem with this and the idea that maybe someplace, someday down the road, the digital solution replaces your Trusted Advisor. Is how will a model or algorithm tackle a problem with human depth to it? This issue of where to go first when the weather clears up is simple on the surface, but depending on your individual situation could get complicated in a hurry, because, it needs to satisfy four questions the agronomic, economic, emotional and ethical.

I’m going to start with the emotional part of this decision and try to make it as easy as possible. Slow harvests suck, they wear you down, we do things we normally wouldn’t do and they make us all grumpy as hell. The important thing is when you can be moving you will be moving and that forward motion gets us closer to done every day. For every additional hour we can be in the field it equates to nearly a day by the end of a harvest season. This decision process is to make every hour count.

Now a digital tool can assist us with the agronomic portion of the decision, we can use imagery, and other information to look at potential problems with stalk quality in corn and soybeans. This digital information only really gives us eyes on the situation and an idea of how to prioritize fields based on potential risk. To know for sure, we still must go out and do some pinch and push tests to evaluate stalk quality and get us some much-needed clarity as imagery quality starts to degrade because of lack of green tissue.

Now for the last two who are intertwined with each other while at the same time working against each other to some extent. Maybe you own some ground, cash rent some ground, and farm some ground on shares. This all adds complexity to the economic and ethical problem because you need to find balance in what is the best decision for all involved.  Then we get into conversations about leasing some capacity (combines), how would you implement that strategy?

These conversations and decisions can’t be made through an app, but takes a mindful conversation between you and your Trusted Advisor who understands your operation, how comfortable you are with risk, and what your capacity to get things done. Digital solutions are a great advancement for production agriculture, but will never have a greater value than a skilled agronomist to help you and your operation reach your goals. The digital tools that are in the industry today will only make that skilled agronomist even better at helping you make the best decisions possible for years to come.