How to Make Farm Technology Pay Off

Are you managing your farm with a high-tech financial system for a total profitability picture?

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Post authored by
Alan Grafton

Alan Grafton

Alan directs K·Coe Isom's AgKnowledge services that provide farmers from coast to coast with CFO-level counsel and financial and accounting support of all levels. He cultivates operational growth by focusing on the business information and analytics to help today's farmers reach maximum financial yields.
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Over the years, many of you have adopted technology that’s revolutionizing agriculture. Maybe you’ve added a GPS-guided tractor or a self-propelled sprayer to your operation. Or you’re using field-mapping software or electronic collars for your dairy herd.

But have you included financial technology in the new tools you’re using to manage your operations?

I’m not just referring to software packages that help your office staff keep track of expenses or payroll. Or even the program that your employees can tap into on their phones or iPads when they’re out in the field or barn.

I’m talking about the technology that collects data from every facet of your operation. Then it transfers that real-time information to a central platform where it’s stored so you can access it easily and quickly. All that data comes together to help you make better decisions right when you need to.

It’s incredible technology. But capturing and managing that data to make sound financial and operational decisions requires agricultural savvy and business expertise. That’s exactly why K·Coe Isom partnered last year with a worldwide farm management technology provider, Agworld.

Integrating Technology with Business Savvy

After employing sophisticated agriculture technology such as Agworld, the program seamlessly connects the people and systems that make your farm work. It links on-farm operations with agronomists, financial advisors, ag retailors, lenders, custom applicators, and other key farming partners and stakeholders. It also collects data from equipment sensors, field and satellite imagery and other emerging data gatherers.

K·Coe Isom advisors help farmers to analyze the data for decisions big and small. We help you look back for accurate year-to-year comparisons. For example, did you move the needle in improvements? We help you see where all aspects of your operation stand today. We not only help you track the cost of fuel and labor, for example, but run “what if” scenarios to help you determine whether planting beans instead of corn makes more sense. This can allow you to make the decisions you need to move forward.

K·Coe Isom CEO Jeff Wald believes the strategic partnership with Agworld is a game-changer for farmers: “Together, we have integrated K·Coe’s proactive business advice with Agworld’s technology to help you manage risk and make better business decisions.”

Message #2: Accuracy is King

So, yes, financial technology is essential today. But here’s my second message: Unless you have collected correct information to begin with, this technology will not deliver the benefits and solutions you need. If there’s garbage going in, there will be garbage going out.

Over and over, I have stressed the importance of keeping accurate, organized financial records. Some of this is basic bookkeeping, such as categorizing your expenses consistently and accurately. It means ensuring your capital expenditures or personal expenses don’t appear in the category that reflects operating costs. It means going the extra step to document your loan principle, interest and payment terms. Like many field-crop operations, yours likely deals with three years of financial data for a single commodity. You must make sure you’re not comingling crop years.

Precise numbers allow you to measure accurately. Without them, you can have a slow leak in the data you’re using to make major decisions, whether it’s about planting, marketing or even a particular conservation practice.

Granted, tracking and analyzing comprehensive data is time-consuming, and if you need help, get help. But, in my opinion, today’s financial technology, combined with accuracy and business expertise, is just as essential as any other equipment on your farm or in your ag-processing operation. Even so, there’s no magic or easy button to push. You must start with accurate information. Computers and technology have astonishing capability, but, in the end, it’s people who must use those tools correctly to make the right business decisions.

Alan Grafton directs K·Coe Isom’s AgKnowledge services, which provide farmers from coast to coast with CFO-level counsel and financial and accounting support of all levels. Contact him at Alan.Grafton@kcoe.com.

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