Farmer Iron

Thinking Beyond the Current Year

Avoiding the tendency to manage for 'last year' when you have a year like this is going to be the next challenge.

Our jobs as ag journalists is to try to work for readers and think about the "next thing" for your operation; rather than dwell on what you're dealing with. Not always easy in a year when the weather radar looks like a green and yellow Rorschach test that pretty much proves farmers are crazy (in a good way).

Covering farm technology means looking ahead, beyond this too-wet, too short crop year to next season. And frankly, the biggest challenge we all face is living in the past. Just because the year was like it was is no indication of what 2010 will be; yet it's hard to shake the memories being burned into our brains in 2009.

That's where your multi-year crop records come in - whether you've got a nice stack of notebooks; or an extensive computer database - you've got plenty of information for managing into 2010 if you look at the broad trend information.

In a corn/soybean rotation - looking back on the past three or four corn crops (over the past six to eight years) is going to give you more help than just thinking about the poor performers in 2010. Historical information can point you to traits and tools that work best over the long haul.

Mitigating risk means thinking in the long term. And that's true with equipment purchases.

Sales records show that farmers are taking a breather from the past three years where you were replacing a lot of older equipment. Now comes the hard part - cherry picking your equipment inventory to maintain your efforts at continuous productivity improvement without breaking the bank.

It'll be easier than you think, given the new precision ag tools available going into 2010. Greater availability of RTK (by subscription); enhanced controls and monitors; more row shut-offs and better sprayer controls. A little upgrade here, a field-add-on there, and the newest equipment in your fleet can do even more for the money.

In the heat of harvest it's hard to do any thinking. We wish you the best in getting the rest of the crop out of the field and sold at a profit. Then it's on to 2010.

You can follow me on Twitter at and you can reply to me there by using the @Willie1701A at the beginning of your message if you want to share any harvest stories from your operation. Or drop a comment below, registered users are encouraged to comment on any blog.

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