Don’t Rely on the Way You’ve Always Done It

Jim Hedges, vice president of seed marketing, WinField United

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“It’s the way we’ve always done it.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase. As a farmer myself, I understand how difficult change can be. The agriculture industry is facing some big challenges right now and trying something new might seem risky. But these disruptive times demand that we change how we work to best defend the profitability potential of our farms. So, how do you make changes with confidence? The answer is sound data, expert advice and state-of-the-art technology.

Marry the science and art of farming

In the past, farming may have felt more like an art than a science. Before ag technology and the wealth of data we have today, farmers made decisions based on experience and their gut feelings. I’m not discounting the importance of them, but modern agriculture arms us with tools to help support, or sometimes refute, what our gut tells us. Your tried-and-true ways of managing might actually be holding you back from optimizing your farm’s potential. When we marry the science of farming — the data, the equipment and the ag tech tools — with the art of farming, we build a strong foundation for making profitable decisions.

Ag technology can be intimidating; I get it. And trying to decipher relevant data from noise isn’t always easy. But the science of farming doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You can work with your retailer to build a plan for how you operate today, and then build on that plan over time.

Let’s stop obsessing over maximizing yield

Yes, yield is important. It’s the basis of determining how productive your fields are. But it’s time we start putting more emphasis on profitability. How much does it actually cost you to produce every bushel of grain? In the end, the answer to that question will determine your profitability potential. Every management decision you make impacts your bottom line positively or negatively. The right data, technology tools and expert recommendations can help you make sure those decisions optimize not only yield potential but profitability as well.

For example, my farm saw a tremendous amount of rain this year. It made me wonder how much nitrogen my fields lost. Around the time my corn pollinated, I was tempted to apply an extra 30 pounds of nitrogen because experience has shown that’s an effective way to increase yield. However, when I looked at the R7® Field Forecasting Tool and ran scenarios based on my field’s conditions, it predicted that my nitrogen investment would only result in an extra bushel per acre. The model revealed that my gut feeling was not the right decision in this situation, and I ended up saving money by not applying that nitrogen. Those dollars were reallocated to a fungicide application, which I planned using response-to-fungicide scores and imagery from the R7® Field Monitoring Tool.

Find the right partners

The best retail partners are delivering the local expertise, support and services that are critical as the industry evolves. They’re adapting to address the challenges and changes that are happening in the industry. From pursuing online storefronts to offering innovative programs and services, the most progressive retail partners are investing in you to help your farm adapt and advance as the industry does.

To learn about how WinField United is combining data and technology to help farmers make more profitable decisions through its retail network and new limited-release Advanced Acre™ Prescription Program, visit