Global Big Data Conference: Precision Ag

Only 1 day left until we present at the Global Big Data Conference on Artificial Intelligence! 

We are sharing the videos this week that will be shown as part of the presentation.  If you like them we'd love your help.  Please share them on your Facebook or Twitter feeds, and subscribe to our YouTube channel...  Thanks!

One last crop... finishing sunflowers

My city friends are starting to ask what we are doing now that all the crops are harvested, so here is a short list of late fall jobs, and why they matter.

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Sunflowers

Not so beautiful when they are ready to harvest, but look great to us!

·         Actually…. We aren’t done yet – we are still combining sunflowers.  This is totally normal, as sunflowers are a late crop and need to die off before they are harvested.  This can be accomplished by desiccating them (spraying them to kill them) or by waiting for a hard freeze.

·         End of season equipment maintenance: The seeder, sprayer and combines all need to be cleaned and have a thorough inspection and maintenance before parking them for the season.  This is also the opportunity to do any permanent fixes necessary to replace the “temporary fix” done during the harvest push.

·         Field tillage work, soil preparation and drainage projects: Water and nutrient management are critical to soil health, and therefore productivity and environmental sustainability. Drainage projects are designed to maximize the precious resource of water; helping disperse it or collect it, depending on the project.  Field tillage serves to aerate the soil, and manage the “trash” (plant matter) left over after combining.  Fall applications of fertilizer can prepare the soil for next year’s crops. 

·         Hauling grain: A farm’s ability to store grain on site dictates when, and how much, grain needs to be hauled to elevators at any given time in the harvest season.  We are currently managing our storage by hauling some grain now.  Along with hauling grain comes bin cleaning, which means making sure all of the grain gets out of the bin and into the truck.  It is like sweeping your house but way dustier! Hauling grain now also allows us to reduce the amount of gain hauling to be done in the middle of winter, when conditions can be much less favorable for working outside. 

·         Forward planning:  Of course, this is an ongoing planning process that takes all winter, but the forward planning starts now. At this point, we have a good handle on our crop production numbers and so we can begin to make informed plans based on actual budget numbers rather than projections. This means deciding which items on the “wish list” can happen this year and which ones will have to wait.  

Although there are certainly many more jobs that are occurring on an ongoing basis, these are the top five jobs that are filling our days right now.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the rich blessings and bounty that we have.  Sometimes in the business of everyday life we can forget to appreciate all of our many blessings.  As I made the list of things that I am thankful for, I reflected on the fact that I get to experience each of these things a bit differently because of the farm... 

The top five things that I am thankful for are:

  1. Family - I am lucky to have an immediate family, extended family and international family who know me in and out and love and accept me 
  2. Fun - I am surrounded by people who help me to have fun and see joy every day
  3. Farm Femmes - the chance to learn, grow and pursue my passions (ed and ag) with my sister has challenged me, energized me and motivated me
  4. A safe and productive harvest season - the culmination of a long season of work
  5. Living in a beautiful country - both in nature and values

Wishing you a safe and blessed Thanksgiving, surrounded by the ones you love.

Record yields?

It’s always fun to learn something new, especially when it shows you good news!  This year, that meant looking at the farm data differently, and what a great year to choose.  While last year Deer Creek Farms had 100% hail damage, this year we are able to see what a great harvest looks like!

This is the farms first year using myJohnDeere and the JD Operations Center, but the data has been being collected since 2013 for seeding.  Yes, that means for 4 years, I was slacking off on helping to get this working!

But hopefully this makes up for it!  This year, my Dad handed me the data stick and said “go figure it out” after a brief visit to Green Valley Equipment in Morden, Manitoba.  With a 3 hour investment his field data is now uploaded and available for analysis.  He was particularly excited to look at his yield maps and how specific they were.  

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There is still plenty left to learn and explore, but for a 3 hour time investment seeing the extent of the information available and the impact it can have to farming operations it was time well spent!

If you would like to learn how to make Operations Center work on your farm message me, or e-mail me at karen@farmfemmes.com.  If there is enough interest we’ll look into doing a few clinics around the topic to help you get started!

Where is the Wheat?

If the wheat production forecast in the  September USDA-NASS Crop Production report holds through the US harvest which is nearly complete the wheat harvest this year will be the lowest in 44 years.  That is -15.5% when comparing to the 2016 US harvest.

It’s not a story of acres which remain unchanged at 38.1M acres, the yield is down to an average 38.3 bushels per acre which is 9 bushels per acre lower than 2016.  Using the closing data for 9/13 for spring wheat and some simple math of $6.40/bushel that’s $57.60/acre less this year than last.

So what’s that mean for profitability?  

Variable input costs - what does $57.60 mean?

~100% of your chemical cost could have been covered

50% of your land rent could have been covered

75% of your fertilizer bill could have been covered

I put together a quick Google Sheets spreadsheet to illustrate the profitability and breakeven point using the following data:

Price Per Bushel: $6.40

Fixed Per Acre Cost (Rent, Machinery etc.): $130

Variable Per Acre Cost (Seed, Fertilizer, Chemical): $125

Based on these inputs, profitability sits at the 41 bushel per acre point.  

If you’d like to use this simple calculator to do some “what if” scenarios using your own price per bushel, fixed and variable costs you can access it here.  We had fun inputting price per bushel of currently contracted wheat and taking a look at increased fixed cost per acre (new combine) to check out profitability.

If you have any questions using the calculator, comment below or e-mail me at karen@farmfemmes.com.