It's time for ROI in field trials
Published August 26, 2019
The weather is out of your hands, commodity prices are volatile, inputs are becoming more and more expensive—this year has reminded us of the many variables in farming that growers have no control over.
There’s no better time to get a handle on the things you can control.
Farm crop field trials are one way to do that. All fields have variability, but trials help you understand how to get the best return possible from your acres. Brad Carlson from the University of Minnesota recently gave some great tips and reminders for designing optimal field trials:
- Choose a uniform site.
- Use replication and randomization.
- Consider your application equipment.
- Control other possible variables.
- Oversee inputs for quality control.
Farm field trials are an excellent way to experiment and gather information, but you can go even further with analyzing your fields and their profitability with Conservis crop production management software.
Conservis and Zone Economics
Data is increasingly becoming the currency that drives successful farms. You have information, but it’s essential to consider what comes next. What do you do with it? Are you using it to drive decision-making on your farm? And what if you could take it a step further and get detailed, accurate information about your fields, down to the square yard?
In a recent Precision Ag article, specialist Ben Johnson asked: “Imagine being able to identify areas in a field that have been consistently losing $250+ per acre per year over the past 3 years or more. What if you could utilize the data you’ve already taken valuable time and money to collect to give you a better idea of where to spend that exact same $250 to maximize your ROI? How would this change your operation?”
This is zone economics, the ability to analyze crop profitability on a sub-field scale.
The Value of Zone Economics
In the past, growers have largely relied on yield numbers to assess a crop’s success, a “grow more, make more” mentality. But to determine the true return on your investment, you have to understand that a high-output field may not actually be the most cost-efficient. Instead of “Where can I produce more?” a better question is “Where am I investing my money inefficiently in this particular field?”
Conservis zone economics gives you that information. It takes the guessing out of the picture and gives you the ability to see exactly how your actions have (or haven’t) paid off.
“The ROI analytic capability of zone economics is truly what growers need—a scorecard to assess their efforts.”
With zone economics, you can answer questions about your fields: Why am I losing bushels here? Is something off with the planting populations? The inputs? Analysis of the detailed, layered data is what will help you get answers. “Zone economics showed me that my premium seed didn’t pay off. The yield just didn’t offset the higher cost,” said Kyle Musselman, Conservis user at Musselman Farms.
Field ROI Analysis, Perfected
You have the power to determine exactly what works best in your fields to maximize profit. Zone economics tells the detailed story of your fields throughout the growing season. With this level of analysis, you can start to truly understand your ROI and gain actionable insights for the coming years.
There’s a lot you can’t control, but you can control your decisions and your practices. Trials are valuable, but zone economics will help you take your efforts to the next level.