| Published: June 25, 2024

Enabling Your Farm for the Future

by Joe Waddell, Director of Market Innovation, Horizon Farm Credit

With so many new technologies emerging for farms, it can be hard to sift through the noise of what you do and don’t need. New technologies are great, but many producers can still benefit from technology that has been on the market for some time, which can often be a more cost-effective option to provide profitability and success. While new technologies may provide additional insights and data that can drive further efficiency, older technology can have these capabilities too.  

Before you start tracking every data point on your operation and integrating new products, you must examine and question your current processes, technology, and insights. Knowing your why and the unique story of your farm will help you realize what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you can improve. You’ll then be ready to collect data that provides further insights into your farm, positioning you to influence those developing future technologies down the road. 

Focus on Actionable Insights

Unsure where to begin? Data sets without insights are just a bunch of numbers. To truly benefit from this information, focus on actionable data such as:

  • Yield data to help you understand which areas of your farm are most productive.
  • Consumption rates to track how resources like fuel, water and fertilizer are being used.
  • Turn times to monitor the efficiency of your equipment and processes. 

Removing inefficiencies is key. Invest time and resources in tools that streamline your operations and provide a measurable return on investment, which doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary. By streamlining and automating tasks, or removing labor from the equation, you can save time and money. These types of efficiencies are low hanging fruit that can be realized through data examination. 

Increase Your Aged Equipment's IQ & Prepare for an Upgrade

It may not be profitable for you to replace your current systems with new technology. However, you can enhance your current equipment and technology to work for you. Older equipment can even benefit from newer technology to allow an extended lifespan while adding new capabilities.

Tools like GPS, row clutches, and section control can significantly improve efficiency which can save fuel, other inputs — like seed fertilizer spray — and time. Adding new capabilities to older equipment also opens the door to variable rate nutrient applications, increasing operational efficiency far beyond the immediate benefits.

Up and coming tools that utilize actionable artificial intelligence (AI), like Farmwave, help reduce waste and improve efficiency of your existing legacy combines by better tracking header and crop loss real time, allowing you to make beneficial adjustments on the fly. When looking at older equipment and technology, think creatively about simple actions that can save you time and money.   

Embrace Digitalization and the Next Generation of Technology

Once you lay the groundwork and gather key insights about your operation, you’re in a prime position to leverage the next generation of tools coming to your doorstep. To take advantage of AI and machine learning tools, you must provide sound data to the models. By having a solid baseline of historical data and information to feed to these tools, you can leverage the immense trend analyzing power these tools provide.

Start with simple digitization efforts and gradually move towards more complex systems. Focus on enabling technologies that increase operational efficiency before exploring disruptive tech. For example:

  • GPS technology improves precision and efficiency in tillage, planting, spraying, and harvesting.
  • Remote monitoring and connectivity tools from basic security monitoring cameras to application-specific products, like BinSentry, allow for constant oversight of your farm operations while freeing up manpower.
  • Process improvement, inventory management and tracking tools, like One™ by Milc Group, allow you to be better control inventory, reduce waste, improve employee efficiency, and create more precise TMR rations.  

At the end of the day, if you don’t question and examine what technology and data is telling you, you can’t learn from it or know how data benefits your farm and its unique story. When you leverage data available on your operation, you can enable your farm for the future with technology you already have and set yourself up to introduce new technology where it makes sense.

Have you integrated technology on your farm or made a change that’s been successful? I’d love to hear about it! Reach out to me at to connect and share your story. 

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