When the work of planting season is complete, it’s time for more agronomic decision-making. Sometimes you have to make decisions about your crop quickly. In other situations, you might be able to take a bit more time to weigh out the pros and cons of a particular choice.

Do you use set criteria and guidelines when you’re making agronomic decisions? That helps give you a framework to use when figuring out what to do.

For example, if you need to make a replant decision, you might consider a few different factors with your agronomist. What are my current plant populations? What’s the seed distance between each plant?

What’s the severity of the harm done to plants that may only appear undamaged? What could come back to haunt us weeks later if we don’t take action now?

Considering what could happen in the future is part of good agronomic decision-making. Discussing the situation with your agronomist gives you a chance to consider all the factors involved before making your decision.

It’s similar to the thought process you can use when you are thinking about a major purchase for your farm, whether it’s a new piece of land or cash rent bid, installing new tile or buying a piece of equipment or a new building.

As you consider a large purchase, what checklist do you use to help you make a decision? Who do you rely on to help you think through the pros and cons?

Create Your Checklist

For these decisions, include factors such as interest rates, length of the loan, length of payback period and how a purchase will affect metrics on your farm like your working capital and equity to asset ratio.

Add some long-term thinking to your checklist. What overall goals are you trying to accomplish? How does making this particular purchase right now affect your long-term goals? Will the purchase help you achieve your goals or keep you from reaching them as quickly?

* Think about the questions you ask yourself or that your agronomist asks you when you are making major agronomic decisions.

* Use those questions to create corresponding questions to ask yourself when you are thinking about a large purchase for your operation.

* Include questions to help you consider the decision in light of the effect it will have on your overall operation and your farm goals.

Once you have created your checklist, imagine an operation that’s led by a growth-oriented farm couple. They think about the future of their operation a lot. There’s a lot they want to do in their farming careers to build their farm and make it into everything they want it to be.

They work together to brainstorm goals for their operation. They set timelines for when they will achieve those goals to stay on track for the future. It’s a good process to follow as they lead their farm.

First, the sky’s the limit. They’re optimistic and hopeful as they imagine the future they desire. Then, second-guessing kicks in. The farm couple’s attention moves away from the infinite possibilities they were imagining.

That might lead them to not set goals as high as they might have done when they were thinking about what they really want for the future of their farm.

Questions pop into their minds: How are we going to achieve our farm goals? What if outside conditions in the ag economy change drastically?

Since there aren’t immediate answers, they might not set the bar as high as they truly could. The loftier goals that would have resulted would probably help the farm achieve the future they’re imagining much more quickly.

As you set goals for your farming operation, have you been thinking big enough? We might unconsciously limit our goals by what we’ve seen on farms in the past or what we’ve seen in our parents’ or our own operation.

One way to help ignore this is to think beyond what we’ve seen on our farm, our neighbor’s, or any farming operations we’ve ever known or heard about.

Try imagining what the successful farm of the future will be like: How are the owners thinking? What are they doing now? What will they be doing in the future?

When you set high goals for yourself and your farming operation, you rise to the challenge and so does everyone in your operation.

Working on a goal that’s tough to reach pushes you to become the best farmer and farm businessperson that you can be. What goals will you set for your operation?