How leveraging digital tools can support successful farm planning

February 29, 2024

How leveraging digital tools can support successful farm planning

February 29, 2024

Digital Tools for Farms

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Canadian farmers are facing many risks in today’s marketplace — including high input costs, fluctuating weather conditions, and shifting market prices. Data provides the foundation you need to plan for the future and navigate an uncertain industry with confidence by helping you:

  • Understand your past results to plan for the future
  • Benchmark your performance against other operations
  • Manage risks to your farm effectively

Digital tools such as MNP’s Field Optimization Program and Ag Risk Management Projector can help you make data-driven decisions to overcome obstacles. Collecting and analyzing relevant data is an essential tool to get your farm across the finish line — no matter whether you use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or a more complex solution.

Canadian farmers face many risks — from unpredictable weather conditions to fluctuating market prices. Additionally, high interest rates and rising inflation are putting more pressure on your farm operation’s bottom line. It’s more important than ever to collect the right data to make informed decisions that will increase the profitability of your farm in today’s uncertain marketplace.

Data provides the foundation you need to build a solid business plan. However, the sheer amount of data available to your farm can make it difficult to pinpoint where to begin. Let’s review several of the risks facing farmers today and what digital tools can help you plan your way through these challenges to navigate your industry with confidence.

What risks are facing the agriculture industry?

Your farm is facing numerous risks that may have a significant impact on your bottom line if you don’t create a plan to mitigate them successfully. These are three of the most pressing challenges in today’s agriculture industry:

Fluctuating weather conditions

Weather conditions impact every aspect of your farm — from crop yields to production costs. The right digital tools can help you anticipate changing weather patterns and make informed decisions to support the profitability of your farming operation. This may include adjusting your crop selection or choosing the optimal level of crop insurance.

Timing purchases

It is essential to time your purchases and sales decisions carefully to optimize costs and maximize the profits of your farm. However, many farmers do not have access to the data required to predict shifting market conditions. This makes it difficult to identify which crops will net better profits due to high demand or when to purchase new equipment while prices are low.

Lack of accurate data

You may have invested in tools and equipment to help you collect data about your farming operation. However, many farmers struggle to track their data accurately or focus on the right data points. It’s not enough to integrate your equipment into a central location. You need to ensure accurate data entry to make informed decisions to support the long-term success of your farm.

How digital tools can help grow your farm’s bottom

Leveraging data and analytics can help you set better strategic goals for your farm, identify opportunities to improve your operations, and increase your bottom-line results.

Digital Tools steps for successful farm planning

It is important to remember that data is readily available on your farming operation — and you don’t need a fully integrated technology solution to start tracking and analyzing your data.

“You can get started by tracking data on a piece of paper or a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet,” says Andrew Van Os, Solutions Lead, Data & Analytics at MNP. “The most important thing is to ensure you maintain good records. It will come in very useful in future years when you decide to start analyzing your results.”

Leveraging digital tools can help your farm operation:

Lack of accurate data

The success of your farm relies on a variety of factors — including your input choices, the weather conditions, and the growth period of your crops. Collecting and analyzing these historical data points through digital tools such as MNP’s Field Optimization Program can help you track trends and get started on successful farm planning.

For example, you may identify that you receive the best results from certain crops when you plant them in fields with a specific soil type. It may also help you determine optimal growth periods, fertilizer, or seed rates for your crops.

“Historical data can help farmers identify what is working best for each field and adjust their approach to obtain the best results,” says Van Os. “Many farmers try to do this on their own, but their analysis often only looks at surface-level yield trends. To go deeper, you need to collect multiple data points per field each year. This can quickly become an overwhelming pile of Excel sheets and online web portals, and it may be beneficial to work with an experienced analyst to help you manage this.”

Benchmark your performance against other operations

Benchmarking tools help you set financial and operational targets for your farm. One of the best ways to set targets is to compare your data to others in your industry — for example, by analysing whether your fields are more profitable per acre than your neighbours.

Advanced benchmarking tools can even provide important insights on the top fields in your region, such as which input rates, seeder settings, or seed varieties are performing the most successfully overall. This enables you to tailor your approach to improve your bottom-line results.

“Benchmarking allows you to understand which approach is working best for other farms in your region. But you need to make sure you’re comparing your results against relevant data,” says Van Os. “For example, our Field Optimization program collects data that allows you to compare yourself to farms with similar soil types. This ensures farmers are getting information relevant to their unique farming conditions.”

Manage risks to your farm effectively

Farmers are facing unpredictable weather conditions, high input costs, and an uncertain marketplace. Risk management platforms can help you overcome these challenges by providing accurate weather forecasting. These platforms can also supply market price projections to help you anticipate fluctuations in supply and demand or identify the right level of insurance to protect your crops.

For example, tools such as MNP’s Ag Risk Management Projector combine your farm’s many data streams to help you determine the optimal level of crop insurance based on metrics such as the cost of production, type of crop, and its geographical location.

“Risk management platforms can help you visualize your return on investment for anything from minor crop write-offs to a disaster scenario such as 90 percent damage to the crop,” says Van Os. “It supports the development of risk management strategies and provides farmers with considerable peace of mind.”

Take your farm to the next level

While farmers are facing many risks in today’s competitive agriculture industry, leveraging digital tools can help you collect the data you need to support successful farm planning. Comparing historical results, benchmarking your success, and investing in risk management solutions can help you make data-driven decisions and develop a long-term plan for the future.

If you are considering leveraging digital tools to support successful farm planning, contact a member of MNP’s Agriculture team. We can help you evaluate your options — and work with you to develop a plan to support your farm’s long-term success.

Take the next steps

Our team can assist with selecting the proper platform for large language models, determining which ones to use, and how to implement, secure, and optimize your data and AI cloud services.

If you’re ready to put generative AI to work for you, contact MNP’s knowledgeable and experienced AI team to learn how to get started.