Return on investment in variable rate technology is about a lot more than yield


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Delivering value to your farm

When you invest hard-earned dollars into new farm technologies, you’d better believe you want to see that value returned to your pockets. But the ways that value shows up are many, and not always so plain to see.

With that, many ask: what return on investment (ROI) does variable rate technology (VRT) deliver for my farm? The truth is, it’s a loaded question precision agronomy companies get asked a lot. And sometimes, it can be tricky to answer considering the ways a solution performs on each farm depends on environmental factors, individual management, and implementation.

As useful as it is, ROI measurement is often a quantitative, numbers-driven conversation that requires accurate data analysis conducted at the zonal level. It’s also important to understand that while yield is the most obvious profitability determinant, it’s not the only factor at play. To that end, a qualitative review of your integrated on-farm solutions can be just as impactful as numbers when determining the effectiveness of VRT. Undertaking such a review should encompass factors such as productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

When considering your overall ROI, here are a few key ways you can use to measure the success of your variable rate program:

  • Investing where it matters most – While you’re trying to maximize your yield on every acre, you’re also controlling costs and getting the most of every dollar spent on inputs and seed.
  • Optimized yields – This is typically the primary goal when adopting VRT. Working with a trusted professional, you’ll more clearly determine your yield goals, whether it’s greater yield overall, in a specific area, at a certain price point or simply consistency.
  • Improve overall crop input efficiency – When you use VRT to apply the right amount of nutrients combined with the ideal seeding rate, you may produce more from every acre of your land.
  • Increased crop quality – VRT is all about understanding the ways you may get better quality, increased protein, or more uniform establishment across all your acres.
  • Better standability – That uniform establishment also delivers a more uniform plant stand. This may help reduce lodging and improve harvest timing as well as fungicide timing and control of disease management.
  • Better time management – Rather than spending time during the busy growing season making decisions on the fly, you’ll have planned your season with a tailor-made prescription for what and where you’re applying and seeding.
  • More sustainable field management – While you’re protecting your investment using VRT, you’re also protecting the environment and farming sustainably. When you understand and adapt to your soil’s variable qualities, you’ll prevent application loss to volatilization, denitrification, and leaching.
  • Traceability of crop production – VRT’s digitized information and memory cards, where your prescriptions are installed, make it easy to trace the history of everything applied to your fields. This provides the traceability and transparency the industry is increasingly demanding.

It’s important to understand that there is value to the information and knowledge gained through precision ag technologies, particularly when it comes to any decision making that could increase revenue on your farm. This means looking at your farm in zones rather than at the farm level. With anywhere from five-to-seven zones in the field, all with differing soil characteristics and topography, the value in treating each differently cannot be stressed enough. In contrast to broadly applying nutrients and seeding in the same ratios everywhere, VRT gives you precise control and measurements for exactly what you put into every zone on your farm.

It’s a lot to consider, but the point is, although ROI is an important metric for measuring success on-farm over time, it’s just as important to consider the qualitative benefits that contribute to long term success. As you respond to today’s incredible push to balance economics on your farm with environmental practices that keep your land healthy for generations to come, the key to achieving that balance lies in understanding more about your fields than ever before. More information available at your fingertips equals a more informed perspective from which to better evaluate solutions and investments on your farm.

To learn more about how ROI in VRT is about a lot more than yield, contact a local Decisive Farming representative. 

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