There’s no doubt. Your vision of the future dramatically affects decisions you make today. The same is true for the implementation of precision agriculture on the farm. If you believe life will continue along much as it has, you will likely choose a much different course of action than if you believe we are moving into a more environmentally aware, consumer focused, efficiency and productivity driven future. The upshot: develop your vision of the future and re-evaluate it regularly.
How? Actually, there isn’t a lot of mystery to developing a vision of the future. Simply read the trade press, attend conferences, and talk with anyone who has a shared interest in the evolution of global agriculture. Sit down with your advisors and family and actually discuss what it all means. Commit your conclusions to paper. It is the routine discussion and debate about the future where you will find your vision.
When you commit your vision to paper, put it in the context of a broad business plan for your operation. Your plan should include these elements:
- A vision statement (what you want your business to be when it [or you] grow up)
- A set of goals for the future (some short-term; some long-term)
- The key strategies and actions required to accomplish your vision and goals.
Remember, regardless of your precision strategy, you should have a written business plan for your farming operation. The reason for the plan is to ensure that you will have done planning. As Dwight Eisenhower said when complimented on the brilliant D-Day plan, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” With your plan in place, you can more effectively develop and implement a precision strategy for your operation.
There’s no doubt in my mind. Farmers will be producing in a more precise manner in the future. So the issue is not whether to participate in precision agriculture or not. The issue is what approach will you follow. Develop a precision strategy. Implement it well. Measure results. Continuously improve. But, for heaven’s sake, don’t wait for it to start raining.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the January 1998 issue of PrecisionAg Illustrated.