Fieldays and farming insights

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Last week I had the occasion to participate at a MYOB Fieldays function where I reflected on the value of data for farmers and the insights that it can provide. 

There is real value in deeply understanding a farms complete ecosystem.  Farmers have always had access to hard data around their profit and loss and increasingly the various farm inputs and impacts on productivity and profitability. But the future is in developing a broader understanding of the whole farm ecosystem and how the various components interact with each other such as water quality, soil performance, flora and fauna. Initially when gathering this information data points will be limited but over time trends will emerge which will drive both on farm management decisions and enable farmers to engage proactively with local government regulators.  There is more that we don’t know than we do at an individual farm level – the more you build the picture of your farm, the stronger your insights and negotiating position will be.

Insights shouldn’t stop at the farm gate.  Developing and assessing market insights, consumer trends and value chain opportunities and threats shouldn’t just be the purview of the marketers.  I understand there are only so many hours in the day, but your on-farm asset value depends on effective supply chain response to those trends and consumer reactions and preferences.  Chase different in-market perspectives, if you can get over to the countries we export to, plan a trip and meet importers, distributors, retail customers and consumers.  I have always found it interesting how farmers will be quite probing of the various commercial options that exist around their on-farm decisions, but at times almost blas√© towards testing the current thinking around in-market opportunities and commercial response. The closer the farmer gets to the consumer the better in my view.