One of the biggest challenges Danny faces when consulting with specialty farming operations across California, Arizona and the Pacific Northwest is implementing an operational framework. This is key to running a successful farming operation because it establishes a structure that defines responsibility and accountability. This is especially critical for producers as they wear many hats. When it comes to introducing new technologies, a pitfall can occur when the farming operation brings on a new technology and never fully utilizes it because of a lack of implementation into everyday workflows. “When you start with business fundamentals, it highlights how the technology can help you,” says Danny.
When operational frameworks exist within a farming operation and there’s an individual championing the new technology, that’s a win. This champion identifies the new technology’s role and how to incorporate into workflows and processes. The champion works to outline the success metrics for the new technology. An operation’s key performance indicators are most often yield or financial-based, but this doesn’t always fit a new technology, especially in the first year. This is because there is typically a learning curve with time and money invested into incorporating it in the business. One way Danny has seen this be successful is having a quarterly check in meeting, “It’s not ideal to have a three hour meeting every quarter, but it gives a standard process to ensure you are getting the most out of the technology.” The way in which the new data and insights are implemented as a result of the technology is what gives an operation the competitive advantage.
Technology’s Next Frontier
Growers know the role their soil plays in their operation and that it’s critical to the success of their crop. A problem exists with the current situation where we look above ground for the answers, but what is driving everything is underneath. “The next frontier is underground, there’s been a very narrow way of looking at crop and soil management, but because of the availability of Trace’s data it’s going to change the way growers think about and manage their soil,” Danny says. This is especially relevant as the permanent crop trend in certain regions continues. What is found in the soil, may not make certain ground a worthwhile investment for permanent crops; and with the consolidation in the industry more reporting is required. Trace can help surface what’s in the soil to take the appropriate action to sustain the investment.
The farming environment is tough and consumer behavior is changing, but sustainability for the grower means they still have to run a profitable business. Finding new technologies that can be incorporated into business processes to help make better decisions that ultimately elevate their brand is how revenue is increased at the farm gate.