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