Author: Jill DeMulder, PAg – Technical Agronomist
Let’s be honest we’ve all had those nights; wide awake at 2 am with your mind roiling with anxious thoughts of boogeymen, perceived or real.  

Boogiemen take many forms:

unmade decisions
undone tasks
unknown risk exposure and
uncertain futures

… all due to the overwhelming day-to-day decisions and chores.  While sleep may not be highly valued in the farming culture, no one likes being robbed of it by a noisy chattering mind.  Research tells us that sleep is critical for physical and emotional health, well-being, and mental clarity.  

 

Having some sort of plan can make a tremendous difference in reducing the boogeymen keeping us up at night or the stress we feel when we are not on top of things.  

Terry has some lofty company as there are hundreds of quotes, properly attributed or not, addressing the necessity of planning and the perils of not having a plan.

By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail
– Ben Franklin

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else
– Yogi Berra

Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning
– Thomas Edison
Congratulations you’ve made it to the first step in planning and that is recognizing you need a plan!  Now what?  

We’re going to suggest that you start by looking back on the past year and asking yourself 5 questions:

1. What went right and what went wrong?
2. What is working and what isn’t?  
3. In hindsight, could I have done something different that would have made a difference?  
4. What are my top 5 strategies for 2021?

 


 
Obviously, some of what went right or wrong was out of our control.  Still, we can ask was there anything we could have done that would have enabled us to take advantage of opportunities or mitigate risks.

Strategies could be as simple as starting herbicide application record to tackle that Group 2 carryover issue or the herbicide-resistant cleavers that are starting to show up; to more involved strategies such as seeking help with grain marketing or to get a better handle on your farm business numbers.

 

So, how will we know what are the right strategies?  By choosing a measure that provides solid evidence.  This will give us confidence that the strategies are on track.  They may not yet be perfect, but we are moving in the right direction.  With slight adjustments we can get even closer to where we want to go.

 

Unfortunately, while we like to believe that we are rational and logical creatures, we are constantly under the influence of our cognitive biases.  These distort our thinking, influence our beliefs, and sway decision and judgement making.  Consider the lure of shiny new paint – may seem like a sound investment but is it? Should I buy more land or do a better job of managing what I have already? Unless we put pen to paper and crunch some numbers, we make these decisions on gut feeling and emotion which tends towards the grass is greener syndrome – not a good strategy.

 

Measuring anything, vastly improves our responses.  My phone just notified me that I had just spent 5 hours on Facebook.  I was shocked at the time wasted with my “perceived” periodic phone checking.  Now my strategy is to set a limit after which the app closes for the day.   Try keeping a food diary if you want a better idea of how much and what you are really eating.  Measuring makes for better decision making.

 

You make a considerable investment in your fertilizer program….. is paying off?  You may use yield as a measure but yield alone leaves questions unanswered.  Namely, could I do better, is it getting into the plant, is it in the right proportions, am I leaving yield or protein(quality) on the table?  These unanswered questions can take a fair chunk of your profitability.  Implementing a tissue testing strategy can help answer those questions; increasing your confidence in your fertilizer program or pointing to areas that still needs attention.

 

Maybe you are confident in your agronomy numbers; perhaps your boogeyman is setting prices for grain, or when to buy, when to sell, or worrying about passing on the farm to your children, new land, new equipment, maintenance costs, insurance etc, etc – the list for farmers is long and involved.

 

Let us help you sleep better at night.  We understand planning on the farm and the sense of relief it can provide. We believe that learning with our peers just might get those creative juices flowing, assisting you to put more strategy behind your decision making.

 

Register for our free Strategic Farmer webinar where a panel of farmers share how they use strategic planning to be more profitable, keep the bankers happy and sleep well at night.  We will provide strategic planning worksheets that you can start your planning process and follow along with the panel.

 

Plan to see you there!