The Bottom Line: Farm in Real Time

March 7, 2013 09:00 PM
The Bottom Line: Farm in Real Time

Growth and operational efficiency don’t happen by accident. It takes planning—and timely access to the most reliable information.

Insight is the ultimate advantage. You need to know your resources and your options. I don’t mean planning based on averages. Today’s producers need to know the situation on the ground, day to day and hour to hour. Information is only useful when you’re in position to access, analyze, and take action.

The state of farm enterprise technology is at a pivotal point. We’re seeing a new wave of cloud-based information technology and less expensive tablet computers. This convergence offers a competitive advantage for farmers: real-time information collected and shared from the field. It’s empowering producers to manage geographically dispersed production areas from virtually anywhere.

Reach your potential. Conservis (, based in Minnesota, offers a business-management solution that links together all the steps in your workflow, collecting up-to-the-minute information from your field operations using tablet and smartphone apps. The Conservis model is built around specific workflow and operational needs of each customer. The system automates how you track yields, inventories, deliveries and payments. This eliminates paper record keeping and gives you a more accurate picture of where you stand.

A modular for inputs and a modular for harvest let you exchange data between employees, your farm office and accounting systems.

Thanks to the web and cell towers, information is driving efficiency as never before. AgSense (, based in South Dakota, helps farmers remotely monitor and adjust to ground conditions via mobile devices. Just pull out your smartphone to check the soil moisture, irrigation status and the temperature and humidity of fields far from where you’re standing.

When it comes to soil testing, California-based Solum ( is making the process faster and more accurate. Their tools enable farmers to measure soil nitrate levels in minutes, instead of days or weeks, to determine what fertilizer to put down and where.

Real-time data is also changing how farmers plant. Tools from Precision Planting ( give farmers instant feedback on spacing, depth and other factors to help reduce the margin of error and improve planting performance.

Agri-Trend offers an integrated farm management solution called Agri-Data that is supported by carefully chosen John Deere dealers and Russell Consulting financial analysis software. When added to John Deere Apex equipment data and AquaCheck soil moisture data, it gives farmers real-time soil moisture characteristics through the top 3' of the soil profile to better understand rainfall events, irrigation volumes and scheduling, crop root development and plant water uptake over time.

Think you’re too busy to adjust to this new management approach? Farmers who switch to a real-time information model tell me it actually makes their job simpler, skimming the operational fat from their processes.

Take Your Operation to the Next Level


March 12 • Fishers, Ind.

Fishers Banquet and Conference Center

Learn how to execute variable-rate technology with Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie. Then integrate those agronomic benefits into your balance sheet with Farm Journal columnist Moe Russell and Top Producer columnist Chris Barron.

Early bird registration: $169 (before Feb. 19)
Regular registration: $199

To register, call (877) 482-7203 or visit

Moe Russell is president of Russell Consulting Group in Panora, Iowa. He provides risk management advice to clients in 34 states and Canada. For more risk management tips, visit his website at To submit questions, call (877) 333-6135 or e-mail

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