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Base Your Decisions on Dollars, Not Just Bushels

Two men making input decisions

Back when corn was selling for $7 a bushel, pushing for high yields made perfect sense. In today’s world, you have to prioritize profitability over yield. That means something like a non-data-driven broadcast fertilizer recommendation may not pay off — and could very well prevent you from getting the highest return on investment (ROI).

Let’s optimize yield

I suggest we move away from the “yield only” discussion toward a “yield optimization” mindset. I define yield optimization as getting the most bushels per acre possible with the most efficient use of resources. (Notice I didn’t say “cheap.”) When you optimize, you lower your per-bushel cost of raising a crop. And technology is critical to help you prioritize where to invest in your crop with the highest probability of a positive ROI.

Here’s an example from my farm. Last year, like in many areas, we had a lot of rain. Because of this, I was going to apply 30 lbs. of nitrogen to my corn at tassel. That would have cost me about $25 an acre. What I ended up doing was taking tissue samples and feeding the results into the WinField® United R7® Field Forecasting Tool to see if I really needed the application. The tool told me I’d get about two additional bushels per acre from applying that nitrogen — about an $8 return on a $25 investment.

Not a smart move, right? But without using the tool, I would’ve applied that nitrogen. I would have pushed for yield and not looked at the whole picture to achieve what I wanted: the highest possible ROI.

Let’s use quality data to make decisions

Say you get a recommendation from a company that says, “You need to spray this product on every acre.” I suggest you ask them three questions:

  1. Why?
  2. Where’s the data to support your recommendation?
  3. What’s my cost for that input versus my ROI?

A lot of new technology is great. But you have to make sure the companies that offer this tech have the data to back up their recommendations and that you’ll get a good return on what they’re asking you to invest.

I look at data as the fuel that keeps a farm going. And we’ve stored 20 years’ worth of reliable “fuel” in the WinField® United Answer Plot® program. By that, I mean data that’s been validated by replicated trials. Analyzed by experts. Specific to your fields. The Answer Plot program generates more than 6 million data points annually, and that’s some powerful fuel focused on saving you time and money.

Let’s look forward

It’s good to glance in the rearview mirror to learn from past mistakes and triumphs. But it’s even more important to stay focused on what’s ahead and the things we can control. The environment gives you challenges, but it gives you opportunities as well — particularly in-season. It’s how you answer those challenges and seize those opportunities that matters. This comes from making course corrections fueled by data, digital tools and the agronomic expertise of your local retailer.

That combination of science, data and the art of agronomy is critical to your profitability at the highest level. WinField United’s digital platform provides easy access to information to empower you make the purchases you want, when you want to make them. It also empowers you, in partnership with your trusted advisor, to arrive at data-informed decisions aimed at driving ROI and your operation’s successful future.

All photos are either the property of WinField United or used with permission.

© 2020 WinField United. Important: Before use always read and follow label instructions. Crop performance is dependent on several factors many of which are beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices, and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years, and be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results. Answer Plot®, R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.