Technology in the agriculture world is continuing to develop and evolve, bringing new and untested methods and machines to the market.
One area we’ve seen the most progression in this year is soil biology. From the likes of drip and flow underground irrigation to biological and modified crops and fertiliser. We are paying more and more attention to our soil health as a key way to improve yields and boost profits.
All this new technology and biological advantages leads to one very big question; do I, the average farmer, invest in this new technology?
To answer this question, we need to act like precision agriculturalists. We need to analyse the new tech and decide with precision if it’s right for our farm. That begins with understanding the science behind the new biological products – are they going to really aid your farm?
To work out if you should try out the new tech available, try our benefit v cost ratio:
Benefits V Cost
You need to analyse whether the benefits of this new tech, method or product will outweigh the cost of buying, maintaining and using it. Be savvy when it comes to your research: a product may claim to produce a 20% increase in yield, but is that all the time? What conditions was the test held under – a similar climate and soil type to yours?
This is especially important when it comes to biological tech for your soil. You should ensure that the biological makeup of your fields will be compatible. If at all possible, purchase a sample to test before making a decision.
Once you have a firm grasp of how this product would likely benefit your farm, you next step is to work out how much profit that would get you. Err on the side of caution, using your worst case scenario, would this new product improve yields enough to cover the cost of buying it and spreading it?
If it’s not possible for you to get a sample to test on your own fields, you need to be even more careful before you buy. Start with questioning the manufacturer or seller, going into depth on how the product works. Do your research, don’t just take their word for the science.
With products like biological soil enhancers, you’re really taking their word for it, unlike a machine part that you can see and analyse yourself. This is why it’s so important to understand what you’re purchasing.
Look for proof that the product does what it says it does. The manufacturer most likely needed to run tests on the product before selling it commercially, so there should be at least 1 study you can look at. If you’re lucky you might find that other farmers near you have already tried the product – look for third party tests, especially ones carried out on farmland similar to yours.
Once you’ve made a start on the above, delving into research and really considering the benefits and costs of the biological soil product, you’ll find that coming up with the right questions to ask is easy! You can apply this method to purchasing any new tool, machine or chemical for your farm to ensure that you’re purchasing the products that are worthwhile.
You can always rely on your yield to tell you whether a product has been worthwhile. Don’t forget to keep monitoring and recording how your crops are performing with the new product throughout the season. You can use your results to determine whether you should invest for the next year or go back to the beginning and test out a new product instead!