2022 farming season: a year in review

In the northern hemisphere, this year's farming season is coming to an end. Most crops are harvested, and farmers have switched to post-season spraying, pruning, maintenance, and other activities, setting them up for a good 2023 season. It's also time to think about farm management practices.

We know this is the time of year when farmers assess the successes and failures of the season and what it all might look like next season. This is when the main agronomy and machinery investment decisions are made. This year, however, we encourage the farmers to also take stock of their agtech positioning. Granted, you don't necessarily want to be an early mover, but are there things happening that you should take note of? Things that will have an impact on future operations at the farm?

Main topics that impact farmers' short term

There is not much to be done in the fields for the next few months, and it's cold and rainy anyway, so it's time for some office research time. Here are a few topics you should keep an eye on:

  • Regulations for spraying, fertilizing, and other chemicals. Several agriculture ministries and departments around Europe are working on updating their reporting schemes, and the long-term trend is more, not less.
  • Regulations for sustainability. Farmers will soon need to comply with regulatory schemes from the EU Taxonomy efforts.
  • Regulations for hours, overtime, and payments for season labor.
  • With the increasing cost of fertilizers, is it time to start preparing for variable-rate applications?

There's a lot more, but nothing that feels very urgent.

Establish the farm's benchmark

For all the topics above, taking the next step will be much easier if you already have all your farm data in a readily available format. So this year's season review should include inputting all the data into Farmable (or another Farm Management Software that, for whatever reason, you think is better). It's really quite straightforward:

  1. Batch all your hours together and distribute them in all your fields. Even if you logged 20 000 hours this season spread on 5 different tasks on 40 fields - you'd get a pretty good approximation by submitting only one timesheet to Farmable; submit 20 000 hours, select all fields, select all job types. Farmable will then distribute evenly on job types and according to the area for fields. You can increase the accuracy significantly by submitting 5 entries - one for each job type.
  2. Batch all your harvest volumes together and submit harvest entries. One entry per variety and selecting all fields will let Farmable do the distribution. We recommend logging it on the day of the first harvest, as this will predict next year's development.
  3. Register sales for all volumes in storage. Here you must submit at least one sale per variety and log an average price.
  4. The biggest job will be inputting the spray and fertilizer logs. There is no way around inputting every single one as required per mandatory regulation. So do this last.

The benefits of putting in this effort will be immediate, as you'll see profit graphs for each field populate as you work.

A bad raspberry season saved by good cost control

Here's an example profit graph. This is our raspberry field, it shows the value of the crop sold in July and August, and it shows all the costs related to spraying and fertilizing and labor costs for harvest and pruning. As a final result, we have a thin profit, but it was a year with very low crop volume, which drives harvest efficiency down - the only way we managed to keep the harvest costs down was to harvest every 3rd day and only one quality class. Hopefully, we'll have a better season next year.

Revenue, cost and profit is essential to assess the success of the farming season.

We presented another example of profitability in an earlier blog post: https://farmable.tech/post/important-milestone-farmable-users-profitability-per-field/

Look for improvements

Once a benchmark is in place, it's so much easier to look for improvement areas. You won't waste time and effort on things that don't really matter. As the old saying goes, "if it gets measured, it gets optimized."

Good luck, farming profits are so thin in general that we can't afford any unnecessary cost.

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Tags: agtech, almonds, digital agriculture, digitalize farming, farm management, farming, harvest, Onboarding, orchard management, precision agriculture, profitability per field, Team building, teams & timesheets, thinning, timesheets, weather stations

Lars Blikom CEO Farmable
CEO Farmable

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