Push Yields with a High-Performing Cropping Plan
Winter is the best time to analyze data from the previous season and work on a cropping plan for the coming growing season. Right now, AgVenture farmers across the country are working with their AgVenture Yield Specialists (AYS) on hybrid selections, field placement and in-season strategies.
During the cropping plan process, your AYS will help you find the best products for your fields based on local product selection and their knowledge of your area, as well as their knowledge of your unique fields. Together, you’ll determine the best course of action to produce higher yields while lowering your per-bushel cost.
“For me, it fundamentally starts with determining what a farmer’s goals are for the farm,” says Jim Groepper, sales manager for AgVenture Pinnacle - Iowa. “We start broadly, looking at a farmer’s challenges and opportunities, then we match solutions to the best of our ability and develop a comprehensive plan.”
The cropping plan is essentially a business plan that farmers can rewrite each year — and it can be the most valuable tool on the farm. “I use the analogy of building a new home,” Groepper says. “Many farmers have just as much invested in their fields as someone might have in a home — you’re not going to build a home without a blueprint. Cropping plans are the blueprints for what we want to accomplish during the year.”
Winter is a great time to review what took place in the prior year. “We have a lot of geospatial data coming in this time of year,” Groepper says. “That helps us look at fields in a more finite way than ever before. Through that data and discussions with the farmer, we can decide what to do differently for next year.”
AYSs are constantly looking at what’s been done in the past and projecting toward the future, making critical adjustments and striving for a better outcome. All the planning and data analysis are key to building a forward-thinking cropping plan.
“The cropping plan helps protect yield,” says Mitch Snyder, an AYS for McKillip Seeds. “We want to address a hybrid’s weaknesses and enhance its strengths. If we put that on paper, it gives us something to come back to in the heat of the moment. It helps us re-evaluate our goals and stick to the plan.”
Snyder says there’s no perfect hybrid, so the best strategy is to customize a plan for each farming operation. This attention to detail gets results. One of Snyder’s customers who was very pleased with his 2017 yields said he believed it was the result of the high-management plan. “There’s just no way we should have these kinds of yields,” the farmer said. “The intensive management is paying off.”
For Groepper, the cropping plan and the practices that an AYS recommends should always be pushing a grower’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,” Groepper says. “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.”
New to a cropping plan? It's simple.
“You have to believe that you can manage and positively affect your yields — that’s the first thing,” Snyder says. “The second thing is understanding that the cropping plan is meant to increase production and decrease cost-per-bushel. Then it’s simple math to determine the right plan. I’ve had two different farmers plant the same hybrid, fencerow to fencerow, with the same soil, weather, etc., but one had 50 bushels more per acre. It’s the difference between having a plan and executing on it. When we create and follow the right plan, we get rewarded with more bushels.”