Time and again, we discuss the benefits of precision agricultural techniques, but beyond that we haven’t really discussed what that would look like on YOUR farm or how to implement it for YOUR farm. So, we sat down and compiled a list of 5 straight-forward steps to create the perfect precision agricultural strategy that will work for YOU.
Precision Agriculture will turn your farm into a smart and efficient business, streamlining your farming processes and practices, freeing up valuable time and allow you to turn greater profit levels each and every harvest.
Here is how to create your own personal precision agriculture strategy.
1) Set your priorities. The key thing that you need to do first is sit down and assess what it is that you are looking to achieve from your precision farming. Are you looking to free up more time to spend with the family? Looking to clear down debts faster? Wanting to turn more profit? Or perhaps, looking to farm in a more ethical way to give a little bit back to the land that has supported you all these years? Once you have set a clear goal of what it is you’re looking to achieve it is then important to set milestones to meet along the way. Having a clear vision of where you want to take your farm will keep you on task as time goes by. No matter how grand or simple your goal is, plotting it out is your first port of call.
2) Look at your financials. Before making any major business decision it is crucial to know where you are currently financially. This might be the messiest and gut-wrenching part of the process, especially if accounting has been neglected or if the farm is currently operating in a bad way. Don’t bury your head I the sand. Get all those figures out in front of you. Look at your expenditures, look at where costs can be narrowed naturally, i.e. do you really need to spend more on fertiliser when you have some left over? Look at income and also look at the futures to see what kind of income is expected. When looking at the futures look at other crop types or livestock types as you may be able to see if a small change can lead to bigger profits down the line. Once you have done this you should be able to look at what budget you have to make changes. If you find yourself in a deficit it isn’t the end of the world, you just need to budget for borrowing to get any new tech that fits your goals.
3) Educate yourself. We are learning all the time about new advances and the smart agriculture world moves and develops very quickly. This is the time for you to scour the online forums for ideas, see what has worked for others and learn from their costly mistakes so you don’t make them yourself. Go and visit local farms and see how they are doing things, you will be surprised at how open a lot of farmers are about what they do and also how many questions they will ask you. Farming isn’t easy, it is often isolating and difficult, so when a farmer can openly talk to other farmers they often talk candidly about what is and isn’t working for them. Local universities have whole sections and libraries dedicated to agriculture and often will allow you to use the resources free of charge. Some may even be running studies or trials that need your assistance in. This is a great way of obtaining free tech or new ideas for your farm. Farming communities are not as close knit as they once were, so it is important to put yourself back out into the public domain. You may even make lifelong friends along the way.
4) Get your hardware and software. Time to get out the wallet and do a little bit of shopping. Look at the market and look specifically at the type of equipment that will help you most. We love drones, but they may not always be the most practical bit of tech to implement. Choose carefully. Remember any outgoing is an outgoing no matter how cool and innovative your latest purchase may be. Then, once you have selected the hardware, match up all the software that you can to get the best results from your hardware. We recommend at least one intelligence gathering bit of tech such as a drone and one practical bit of tech such as a variable rate irrigation system. Monitoring results is vital to your farms ongoing success.
5) Upgrade your farm. The last step in a continuous one. Making sure that as time goes by you are further upgrading old equipment, using profits to reinvest in the farm. Every 6 months or so it is handy to do the checklist all over again. Tracking how far you have come on your personal journey to becoming a smart precision agriculturalist. By doing this you are regularly keeping stock of how your farm is performing financially and you will also become shrewder and sharper to the things that could be improved. Within a few short years an ailing farm can become a flourishing farm using these practices.
We are confident that precision farming is a benefit for any farm large or small. No matter if you have dreams of ruling the farming world or would just like a family vacation next year, these practices will propel you towards a healthier, smarter and happier farm. The cornerstone of this checklist is to ensure that financially you are on track. We have all had moments in Business where our funds dip due to unexpected costs but making sure that the overall business is profitable, and the pot will be topped back up is all you need. If you’re having financial difficulty and you can’t marry up the accounts and books it might be time to let a friend or outside person look over your books to cast fresh eyes and ideas on them.
We hope you have fun completing this checklist and building a new and improved farm!