A Formula For Success
Nowhere does the motto “be prepared” wield more weight than in agriculture. Farmers who put together cropping plans are ahead of the game as the next season approaches. Cropping plans are a critical part of AgVenture’s Maximum Profit System™ (MPS) as a key practice for optimizing profit.
Jim Groepper, sales lead for AgVenture Pinnacle Iowa, is a firm believer in the value of a custom cropping plan. “This is the blueprint that will see farmers through the season and lay the groundwork for the next year. The plan makes sure we’re placing the right hybrids and varieties in the right fields to get more from every acre. But seed is just the start. The plan takes into consideration all the other inputs, such as fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. We start putting together plans in August or September, knowing that we will refine them based on what we see through harvest.”
Cropping plans are an invaluable tool that help guide a wide range of decisions, including:
- Selecting crops to meet specific needs
- Setting yield goals
- Selecting multiple varieties
- Matching specific fields to specific varieties
- Matching specific technologies with specific production plans
- Designing fertility/nutrient programs
- Planning pesticide programs to address current problems
- Making commodity decisions
- Determining cash flow needs
A good cropping plan can help prevent surprises at harvest, but farmers need to keep in mind that cropping plans are subject to
change. Events are bound to happen along the way that require modifications. Cropping plans have to be flexible to allow
for unexpected disease, weed and weather challenges. “We constantly go back to the plan and tweak along the way to make sure the plan accurately represents what is going on,” said Groepper.
Less than 25 percent of farmers develop cropping plans. Those who do, average between 15 and 30 percent higher yields every year.
Personalized attention is the strength behind AgVenture’s approach to cropping plans. AgVenture Yield Specialists (AYSs) and farmers work closely to create the plans, as well as to monitor progress. Before planting, AYSs review the plans to make sure all the fields are identified correctly. They continue to be actively involved by analyzing and monitoring conditions throughout the season. A major early checkpoint is performing Net Effective Plant Stand (NEPS) studies to gauge early stand quality and planting accuracy. The information becomes a part of the plan to help inform next year’s planting.
At harvest, AYSs and farmers use the data they gather to determine what needs to change with next year’s plan. Groepper said by looking at a specific plan against performance, a farmer should be able to tell what worked and what didn’t with regard to inputs. “The key to success next year is to learn from what you discover once the combine hits the field,” he said.
A cropping plan will keep farmers on track all season long. It helps them be proactive instead of reactive to unexpected challenges. Groepper also sees the plan as a valuable tool for communicating with suppliers, including financial institutions. The plan details how much seed and other inputs are required and the projected costs. Farmers can build their financial spreadsheets from the information.
For Groepper, cropping plans and practices that an AYS recommends should always be pushing a farmer’s operation forward. “Our goal is to look at two to three key things we can challenge farmers on that will take them to the next level,” he said. “I always try to make sure that there is at least one new thing we’re going to experiment with in the coming season; one thought-provoking idea that will generate higher performance and keep us moving forward.”
The magnitude of the decisions and economic impact of what farmers face every day is staggering. A well-thought-out cropping plan can prepare them for dealing with whatever comes their way. “Having a cropping plan is a formula for success,” said Groepper.