Pathways to Precision: Managing Risk With Germplasm

No one can know what the conditions will be for the next growing season. Is it possible for a grower to act with precision even when the most important factors are inherently unpredictable?

This is not unlike the dilemma faced by an investment advisor who manages a portfolio for clients interested in growing their financial security. Nobody really knows which way the markets will turn over their “growing season.” So peoplpathways_precisione turn to brokers to meet very specific financial goals, such as providing for retirement or saving for college. Some individuals are willing to risk a lot to achieve the best possible returns over time. Others are not so daring. They cannot afford to lose any of their investment and make it a priority to protect against the downside.

A similar set of tradeoffs exist for farmers seeking to benefit from the upside while protecting against the downside. A seed advisor can only recommend the right germplasm if the growers reflect on their upside desires and how much risk they are really willing to tolerate. The advice will vary with the goals, just like the advice given by the investment advisor.

Consider, for instance, that on really good soil, seed genetics with maximum potential will deliver great results in good years. In dry years, however, those good, deep soils will have much less stress than other fields.  So, maybe that high-performing germplasm will still be the best bet.  On rough, light, variable soils, even in a good year, seeds with high-performance genetics will not fully express their potential. So the selecting the right germplasm means finding the right genetics for the conditions and fitting that within the risk tolerance of the grower.

As we discussed in the last article in the Pathways to Precision series, there is no such thing as the “best” germplasm without considering the growing conditions. There is only the best germplasm for a given purpose.

It is the same in the world of investing, where brokers seek to manage risk for their clients. No honest investment advisor has a one-size-fits-all investment vehicle. They all must be tailored to the client’s specific needs.

There are safe bets, like municipal bonds for investors who are near retirement and need safe, reliable options. Younger investors might opt for stocks in start-up tech companies, where the potential for growth is as large as the risk of complete failure. Others, who do not seek the extremes—maximum growth or lowest risk—will want a mix of equities and equity types that will diversify their portfolio.

This can be done in a number of ways. Investing in a group of similar equities creates a fund that ensures that a single business’s failure will not take down an entire investment portfolio. Or, some might seek geographic diversity by investing in emerging markets in the event the domestic market falters. Structural diversity can be achieved by favoring, for example, high-dividend stocks, and so on.

While the full range of investment vehicles can be incredibly complex, the strategies behind their use all boil down to a simple principle: managing risk through diversification. Among the most sophisticated are investments that respond directly to market conditions, such as options and hedges that more closely tailor upsides and risks for clients.

The Germplasm Strategy

Germplasm diversity can fulfill a similar role for farmers. Like hedge investments, germplasm diversity can increase the upside at the cost of choices that involve incremental risk. An agricultural analyst who is armed with facts about the grower’s upside desire, downside avoidance preference and the regional conditions—the geography needed for proper placement and agronomic practices—will be in a position to begin tailoring germplasm options.

It is data analytics that make this possible.

By tracking the historical performance of seeds, weather patterns, soil conditions and all the relevant variables, we can know within a given level of confidence the range of expected performance for various growing options. We can validate such analysis against actual results to confirm the value of the analytical methods. Armed with this knowledge, the agricultural analyst can make better recommendations that are specifically tailored to the grower’s precise needs.

Forget about tradition and guesswork. What worked last year is not necessarily what will work for the upcoming harvest, just like past performance of a particular portfolio is no guarantee of future investment results. Data analytics enable acting with knowledge in the face of highly variable conditions.

What germplasm analytics do is answer a series of question for both growers and their suppliers. Farmers will want to know, “What is best for my geography and field conditions?” They also want to know what is best for their strategy in terms of risk management and yield upside. Most importantly, they answer the question about the trustworthiness of the analysis, the facts that enable educated decision making, and who will best manage the germplasm in the long-term.

Seed companies also have their most important questions answered when using data analytics, including: “How do we best optimize our global germplasm pool?” Data analytics show how to maintain products that fit localized needs and how to bring insight and facts to the market for best utilization.

With these answers in hand, growers are on the pathway to making informed choices that overcome uncertainty with knowledge. The result is better and more profitable harvests.

Joseph Byrum, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, is Senior R&D and Strategic Marketing Executive in Life Sciences – Global Product Development, Innovation and Delivery at Syngenta. Twitter: @ByrumJoseph

 

Leave a Reply

Specialty Crops Stories
DronesSentera Launches Versatile Quad Sensor for Drones
July 12, 2017
Fully Customizable Filters on Sentera Quad Sensor Allow for Unique Crop Health Detection Capabilities Sentera introduces the latest update to Read More
Precision IrrigationDealership Celebrates 25 Years in the Irrigation Game
July 6, 2017
25 years ago, Bobby Kempenich had an idea. An idea to launch a business that combined his knowledge of irrigation Read More
Events2017 agBOT Challenge Winners Announced
July 6, 2017
Driverless robotic machines entered the fields of Gerrish Farms in Rockville, IN in June 2017. Universities and entrepreneurial teams showcased Read More
Farmers on Tablet Photo Credit All About Food
Home2017’s Most Influential Precision Farming Advocates (OPINION)
July 5, 2017
Here at PrecisionAg® Professional we’re all about the numbers. And taking a look back at the numbers, it appears that many Read More
Trending Articles
Yield Data Image
Data ManagementYield Data: More Than a Pretty Picture
July 13, 2017
It is mid-July, which, for the Australian cotton industry, means that picking is still going on for some growers. A Read More
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
ProfessionalsPatience Needed: Lessons for Getting New Tech onto the Farm
July 6, 2017
A popular joke within the tech industry was trotted out at GAI AgTech Week in Boston, MA, speaking volumes about Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Quantix Drone Farmer
DronesTop 10 Most Intriguing Technologies in Agriculture
June 3, 2017
This may be a bit of stating the obvious here, but we’ll throw it out there anyways: as much as Read More
Farming iPad
Data ManagementOpinion: ROI or Die in Precision Agriculture
May 12, 2017
The thought of $3.50 corn for the foreseeable future seems pretty disheartening. However, if you look at the precision ag Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsLindsay Corp. Names Dow’s Timothy Hassinger New C…
July 19, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
InfoAg 2015
Events2017 Awards of Excellence Winners Announced
July 18, 2017
PrecisionAg Institute is pleased to announce its Awards of Excellence winners for 2017. Honorees of this year’s prestigious award are Read More
Interseeding Cover Crops
ProfessionalsA 3-Step Approach to Interseeding Cover Crops
July 18, 2017
As growers continue to search for opportunities to create healthier soils and increase yields, more trusted advisors and farmers are Read More
Rod Weimer and Paul Schrimpf
Excellence AwardsPast Recipients Of The PrecisionAg Awards Of Excellence
July 18, 2017
Since 2007, the PrecisionAg Insititute has sponsored the annual Awards of Excellence program. Here's a list of the past winners. Read More
Data ManagementEFC Announces FieldAlytics, Adapt-N Expanded Integratio…
July 17, 2017
EFC Systems is pleased to announce an expanded integration between its FieldAlytics product and Agronomic Technology Corp’s Adapt-N nitrogen recommendations Read More
Data ManagementOpinion: Benchmarking in Precision Agriculture is Big S…
July 17, 2017
Benchmarking has become a buzzword in precision agriculture recently and before we get too excited with all of the profound Read More
Yield Data Image
Data ManagementYield Data: More Than a Pretty Picture
July 13, 2017
It is mid-July, which, for the Australian cotton industry, means that picking is still going on for some growers. A Read More
Industry NewsQuick Rewind: Ohio Dealer Talks Deere-Precision Plantin…
July 12, 2017
A few weeks ago I took a quick trip south down I-71 to Central Ohio (for you non-Buckeyes, I-71 runs Read More
DronesSentera Launches Versatile Quad Sensor for Drones
July 12, 2017
Fully Customizable Filters on Sentera Quad Sensor Allow for Unique Crop Health Detection Capabilities Sentera introduces the latest update to Read More
Hortau Irrigation Management Software
Sensors/IoTHortau Named Finalist for CogX Artificial Intelligence …
July 10, 2017
Hortau was recently named a CogX Award finalist in the Best Artificial Intelligence Product in Agriculture category. The awards were Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsVantage South Atlantic Announces Mid-South Expansion
July 10, 2017
Vantage South Atlantic announced that it has joined Trimble Agriculture’s global network of independent Vantage partners to provide farmers, advisors, Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Decision Support SoftwareAgronomic Technology Corp Surpasses Daily Nitrogen Reco…
July 6, 2017
Agronomic Technology Corp, a leader in agricultural field modeling for soil, water, crops, and fertilizer, for the first time surpassed Read More
Precision IrrigationDealership Celebrates 25 Years in the Irrigation Game
July 6, 2017
25 years ago, Bobby Kempenich had an idea. An idea to launch a business that combined his knowledge of irrigation Read More
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
ProfessionalsPatience Needed: Lessons for Getting New Tech onto the …
July 6, 2017
A popular joke within the tech industry was trotted out at GAI AgTech Week in Boston, MA, speaking volumes about Read More
Deere R4023 cab
Business ManagementOpinion: Reality vs. Hype in Precision Agriculture
July 6, 2017
I think there is a certain word that can accurately describe much of the precision ag and/or ag tech industry right Read More
Events2017 agBOT Challenge Winners Announced
July 6, 2017
Driverless robotic machines entered the fields of Gerrish Farms in Rockville, IN in June 2017. Universities and entrepreneurial teams showcased Read More
gomez-featured
ProfessionalsCommitment to Ag Innovation: Q&A with DuPont Pionee…
July 5, 2017
Editor’s note: PrecisionAg.com contributor Amy Wu often writes about women in ag technology. Recently, she interviewed DuPont Pioneer’s Nadilia Gomez, research scientist, Read More
LAP
InternationalLAP and ABPSAP: Advancing Precision Agriculture in Braz…
July 5, 2017
In this article, I would like to highlight two important entities of precision agriculture in Brazil. The first of these Read More