By Jason Tatge | Published November 13, 2019
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Editors note: David Seba, MO farmer, is a longtime friend and one of the founding farmers (early adopters), who provided insight for building Farmobile data collection technology. So I’m thrilled we had the chance to catch up. Here are my key three takeaways from my road-talk with David:
1 – Farmers are creating far more value than they realize in the form of data, and we’re finally at a point where they’re starting to capitalize on that value and turn it into net-new revenue. Not only does it get more valuable the more there is, but it helps to shift the power back to the farmer in a market where the control is often with the suppliers, and everyone is trying to extract money in the form of fertilizer sales, chemicals, seeds – you name it. As the overhead grows and the margins get slimmer, data is a new opportunity for farmers to build revenue from their field.
2 – With the digitization of agriculture, every grower has the chance to turn their fields into research labs, whether to improve yield or to monetize their data for profitability. No two farms are exactly alike, and the value of having the power to make decisions based on realities about your own farm is a strong advantage. It also, again, comes back to power. If the research capabilities are only funneled to others, that data gets used to create better products, but also raises the price on those newly personalized products. Why not use that data for your own farm personalized needs?
3 – Most folks, who aren’t from ag families, still don’t understand farmers –their day-to-day lives, the pressures they face and the work they do to steward our land. Some of this comes down to the complexity of farming, the unmanageable risks (like weather and markets) and the up-front investment in machinery and inputs required to grow a crop and nourish the soil. Farmers are uniquely talented, and few understand that. They must be in tune with a marketplace that often requires them to adjust strategies and management practices, often on the fly, to match shifts in the U.S. (and global) demand. It’s rigorous, tough work. And it’s not a career choice for light sleepers. Thousands of decisions are made every time a farmer steps onto the field, and they’ve got so many factors to consider – from dirt-to-data and market-to-community and environment. Farming is a complex business. And it’s not an easy story to tell in a social post or sound bite.