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Agriculture and technology work hand-in-hand when you look at agriculture today. We have seen many technological advances in the past few years, and that will not be changing anytime soon. Monitors, GPS, variable rate application, auto-steer, and so much more are becoming a vital part of our customers' operations. With technology comes data, and how you use your data can truly impact your operation and your profitability significantly.

Farmers Coop Society has been offering our Elite Crop Program since 2010 on the premise of leveraging that data to achieve optimal productivity and improve your return on investment. For the past ten years, we have been turning those numbers and spreadsheets into valuable information which allows our customers to increase efficiency and make better, informed decisions for their operations.

Cody Van Drie, FCS Elite Crop Lead Consultant, has this to say about our Elite Crop Program: “Elite Crop provides growers a way to turn their data that they have been collecting— for sometimes years—into valuable information... information that can provide opportunities for change to better their farming operation and improve their profitability. Profitability is the name of the game in this competitive agriculture industry. Growers with that competitive advantage are on the fast track for a successful future.” It’s truly allowing our customers to make decisions that will improve their bottom line.

We had the chance to sit down with Gary and Brad Den Herder recently and talk about their Elite Crop experience. They were busy reviewing some of the 2019 Elite Crop data with their FCS agronomist and the Precision Ag Team, making key decisions that will change how they operate their farm in 2020. Gary and Brad have been participating in our Elite Crop program for the past seven years.

They explained that the reason they became interested in Elite Crop in the beginning was because they had all this data sitting around and they didn’t really know what to do with it. They weren’t using it and didn’t know how to analyze the data and turn it into information that they could use. They were also trying to find ways they could be more efficient. When talking to Brad, he referenced a quote from his grandpa (Garold Den Herder): “Yield matters more than price." This quote is something that still drives the Den Herder operation today. They may not be able to control the grain markets, but they can make educated business decisions to impact their yields.

Elite Crop members work side-by-side with their agronomist and Cody to develop personalized plans to help improve their operation's profitability. Data gathered throughout the year, coupled with input cost information and yield data, is combined to look for trends and different variables that impact yield and, ultimately, their profitability. Anonymous group data gathered from the larger group of growers that make up the Elite Crop program is also utilized to help better variable rate prescriptions, assess current on-farm practices, and quickly accumulate larger amounts of on-farm trial information. Analysis of the group data is done by Cody and presented at our Elite Crop Member Meeting in January. Historical group data is also utilized throughout the season to help provide information to assist Elite Crop members in making more informed in-season management decisions.

Brad and Gary have been able to incorporate the data analysis and make critical operation decisions around their equipment and overall farm management practices. When asked what they felt was the most valuable benefit of Elite Crop,

they quickly responded with, “Helping us make changes that pay." Without the analysis of their data, along with the opportunity to review the larger group data, they would not have made the same business decisions in the last few years. They went on to say they were able to see those changes impact their yields very quickly.

It’s this type of success and these types of results that drive our Precision Ag Team today. The ability to offer our customers innovative and excellent services so they can be more successful is at the heart of Farmers Coop Society. Technology and its daily use isn’t going anywhere, so if your data is just sitting on the shelf unused or if you want to be more efficient and are willing to make some changes in your business, call Cody Van Drie—he will help you see how Elite Crop can work for you and your operation. Call Cody today at 712-348-4064.