Recent swings of the stock market are shaking up the attitudes of many Americans toward our financial institutions. Many who made significant increases in their wealth through time now find it painful to see the numbers on their statements get smaller.
Let’s face it, though, it’s been pretty easy to make money in the stock market without knowing much over the last couple of decades. It provides an opportunity to make a point about investments, return, and enhancing your chances.
Consider a farmer — or anyone, for that matter — now “playing” the market. He might research stocks, evaluate mutual funds looking at the track record: 52-week high, 52-week low, earnings ratios, and quarterly reports. Then he makes a studied choice.
And the day after he buys he looks: Drat. It went down! He “lost” dollars.
The brief twinge of failure you feel is not a rational reaction. One day is only one day. Savvy investors look at long-term results. “I have to remember the long view,” he might mutter, yet that feeling of loss lingers for just a moment. “Did I really make the right choice?”
Investing in the stock market is not a sure thing. Obvious now to all, especially those youngsters who came of age early in the bull market and never really experienced much of a downdraft. But, there’s a reason they have that fine print that says “Past results are no guarantee of future returns” on all the promotional material brokers send out.
Back On The Farm
Contrast the payback from the stock market then with investments in your farming operation: Drainage for your fields. A careful application of fertilizer. A studied selection of a seed hybrid. And, a more precise application of what you know about your fields. Precision agriculture. While your “future returns” may be in question in the stock market, investments in precision agriculture technology are clearly more of a sure thing. Research of those using precision agriculture shows that more than 80% of all who have applied these tools profited from their use — an average of $5 to $18 per acre and even more, depending on crop and different technologies used.
With higher inputs costs and wider swings in commodity prices, an investment in precision agriculture tools, technology, and service is an investment in knowing more. While you still can’t predict the weather with certainty, you can build a knowledge base for your operation that helps you optimize every part of the field, every ton of fertilizer, every seed … and every dollar.
Input costs are up, technology costs are down, commodity prices are volatile — there’s never been a better time to invest in the tools, systems, and services that make up precision agriculture.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of PrecisionAg Special Reports.