As business people we are all working to innovate in our market; Find a niche, serve our customers, work smart, support ourselves, grow and feel a sense of accomplishment from these tasks. We can all learn from each other as we go about these tasks.
The business sector and the farming industry are not that different from each other. They both are usually pretty passionate about what they're doing, they both have a product to sell and they both have to be smart, innovate and work hard to succeed. The difference between the business sector and the farming sector is that one them works outside everyday. The tools might be different between these two occupations but bottom line application is the same - they are both businesses that are working to succeed.
Being adaptable and innovating in your market is an important step in your business strategy. The market changes and we need to adapt with it. Perfect example, Avocados weren't a superfood 10 years ago. (We didn't even know what a superfood was 10 years ago.) Finding these new markets is the challenge to any business, we just happen to be talking specifically about farming.
Here are seven ideas to help you innovate as a business in your market.
7 steps to innovate in your business:
1.) Find a need or market
First you have to find a need. Use complaints or difficulties in the market to find this need. You might see this challenge first-hand, or maybe you have heard of a specific difficulty from someone else. Whatever problem you find, this is what you try to solve. (No fresh greens in the stores in this town, no local beef in this restaurant, etc.)
2.) Learn about the product
Once you learn about a market then you can ask your customers more. Find out all your can about this product. Find out it's uses and ways to market it. Find out about the production of the product and the costs. What problems does it have? How can you solve them? This is where your brand identify comes from. Do your research, have fun, put your special spin on the product!
3.) Talk to other producers
Go to the lead producers in this space and see what they are doing. Talk to them about the problems they face, the solutions they have found and the costs associated with this. You will get a very clear picture of what you need to do. You don't have to necessarily copy what they're doing but you can see what makes sense for your business and how you might do it differently or even better.
4.) Secure start-up capital if needed
This one is tricky especially for small farms. So be cautious with this one. If the idea is to grow, sometimes you have to purchase items to make that growth. Don't be afraid of spending money to make money but be clear about the economics of the purchases. Keep track of your finances and expenses so you can see where your money is going. I can't stress this enough. It's why we started Farmbrite. We want you to succeed and grow in your farm business and knowing where your making money is key.
5.) Do the work
I don't hear as much complaining about doing the work with farmers as with other types of start-ups. Doing the work is the fun part for farmers that's why they're doing it in the first place. The business side of things is the tedious part for farmers. (But that part is important too- so don't discount that just because it's uncomfortable.) Don't forget to do your work and then work on your business too.
6.) Be prepared for mistakes
If you're not failing, your not growing. You're probably going to mess up and have some loss at some point. It means you're trying. The trick is, to see it and learn from those losses. Track your progress - good or bad - make changes and adapt.
Another important part of this is explore new ways to grow every year. The market is constantly changing so each year you should be taking a look at how you can innovate and grow in a different way. How has the market changed?
7.) Be optimistic but realistic
Making tough choices is part of being in business. If something isn't working it might be time to cut your losses and discontinue.
One farmer I knew had a passion for wool and so they had sheep. They didn't have a large enough property for more than 20 sheep. Without finding more property they couldn't make a profit. They had to make a decision to either keep the sheep and get more land, or sell the sheep and find a different way to use the land they had. There's nothing wrong with making a different choice once you start.
Sometimes to make these hard decisions you have to take the emotion out of the equation. Do a Pro's and Con's list and see where you end up. These don't have to be overnight decisions, but be realistic in your approach to your business.
So there are seven ways to innovate and find a unique space to sell in your farm business. I hope this helps you find a smart way to sell in your market.
Thanks for reading and happy farming!
With the expansion of mobile technology there are more and more mobile apps being developed to support farms and ranches. Many of these mobile apps are designed to help to collect information and determine issues that might be coming up for farmers in their fields, soil, weather and other updates concerning their land and crops. This can all be collected on their smartphone.
Specifically, there are helpful apps working with weed and pest identification, weather, field mapping, commodity pricing, irrigation tools, pesticide application charts and more.
Some people love all the tech and gadgets and of course, some people do not! Here are some agricultural technology mobile apps to check out.
This app features commodity news, weather, local cash grain quotes and charts, as well as local news.
A scouting app that identifies weeds, recognizes diseases, analyses leaf damage and field stress, crop emergence analysis and shows the nitrogen uptake.
Scout your fields for issues, share field observations and treatment decisions.
Field check App
View pesticide applicators of any kind to locate specialty crop and beehive locations from their mobile device or tablet.
This is a remote irrigation management tool. You can remotely change your irrigation as it shows irrigation pivots.
Aphid Speed Scout
Is an app through the University of Nebraska. It helps you track your aphid counts on soybeans (or other crops).
This is a plant identification tool. You can sort by your location what types of weeds you find.
Ag PHD App
This app helps you identify problems in your field specifically with weeds and insects. It gives you the name, a photo and some control recommendations.
While you're checking out the mobile technology please keep in mine our software, Farmbrite. Our farm management app lets you track farm mapping and planning, weather updates, organization, and spending all while on the go.
There are more and more agricultural apps popping up all the time with the goal of helping farmers and ranchers identify problems and solve them quickly.
Agriculture has been with us for a very long time. Even if we don't work in agriculture it impacts our daily lives. Here are 7 fun facts about agriculture!
Here are some interesting facts about agriculture:
40% of the worlds population is in agriculture.
It makes sense. We need agriculture to survive.
Cows are big producers.
They produce a lot of milk and meat. They also eat- a ton, literally.
9 million organic producers world wide - and growing.
There are many producers that use organic process but just haven't gotten the designation yet. There is a word for this-transitional.
Some plants need cold weather to flower.
Cold stratification on seeds and plants signals the plant to be dormant and then once it warms up again the plant is ready to reproduce.
Crayons are grown - from soybeans
The soybean oil from one bushel of soybeans will make 2,112 crayons. One acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons!
30% of the 3.3 million farm operators are women.
Women farm operators have increased 20% from 2002, and more than 75% of women farm operators are owners of their land. Globally, 70% of all farmers are women.
Fungus helps trees grow
Because the fine threads that make fungal mycelium, it can spread over long distances, fungi can capture water and nutrients from far away and bring them back along the fine threads and close to plants roots.
Cover crops have been used for many years to maintain soil vs growing a crop for sale. They are grown mainly for the benefit of the soil rather than the crop yield. Cover crops are commonly used for weed management, reducing soil erosion, help build and improve soil fertility and also soil quality, help reduce crop diseases and pests, and promote biodiversity.
How Cover Crops Reduce Soil Erosion:
Vegetation plays a vital role in controlling erosion by:
Soil type, depth, water-holding capacity, and fertility all affect plant growth. Depending on the crop you intend on planting you can increase fertility by growing legumes and incorporating them at the proper time in order to provide nitrogen.
If you have clay or if water penetration is poor in your soil, cover crops with fibrous root systems, such as cereals, can be grown to improve the physical structure of the soil.
Four classes of cover crops:
Planting cover crops:
Plant your cover crop strategically in the fall so that in will grow faster than the weeds in the spring. Maximum effects are achieved by planting early in the fall or in the late summer into a prepared seedbed followed by an irrigation to increase germination, early growth, and soil cover.
Regardless of the cover crop species selected, soil preparation is relatively standard. Preparing a well granulated, soft, friable, and moist seedbed generally works well for virtually any cover crop species.
Cover crop seed can be planted either with a drill or a broadcast seeder. Drills place the seed with much more precision than broadcast seeders but either can be used.
Watering after seeding helps ensure successful germination and establishment of the crop. Once germinated, many cover crop species can survive drought fairly well.
Mowing the cover crop can actually improve cover crop establishment and performance. Mowing removes taller weeds that can shade the cover crop. Mowing also encourages the growth of shoots from the crown of the plant, spreading, and flowering. Many cover crop species are pasture forages which respond well to grazing.
No-Till versus Till:
Whether to till or not is an important consideration while choosing a cover crop strategy. Preventing soil erosion and saving energy are two benefits to no-till management strategy. Another benefit is firm footing in wet weather, which can make a tremendous difference, especially if your area receives a high volume of rains. Growers also often report fewer insect and mite pest problems in no-till areas.
What is no till? No-till planting refers to the planting of primary crops into actively growing cover crops. This practice can be used when planting a grain crop. The other type of no-till involves planting into a bed where the cover crop was killed 2 or 3 weeks before planting time.
Annual Cover Crops Green manures:
Green manure cover crops are typically planted from roughly September to early December or into the spring. They consist of winter annual grasses, legumes, or flowering plants. If the green manure is used to add nitrogen, legumes are used alone or in combination with non-legumes, usually cereals. These plants store nitrogen in their roots and are tilled/mulched into the soil to decompose and add nutrients to the soil.
How much nitrogen?
Research indicates that legume cover crops can fix from 50 to 200 pounds per planted acre of nitrogen. The amount of fixation depends on the cover crop species, soil pH, soil temperature, soil moisture, soil nitrogen status, and inoculation.
Although invisible to the naked eye, soil microorganisms are an important part your soil, and are a potentially valuable asset to your next harvest. The value lies in the role they play in the decomposition of organic matter, improvement of soil structure, cycling of nutrients, and as a living reservoir of nutrients. The microbial community is most beneficial to the grower when it is diverse, abundant, and active. Microbial populations play active and passive roles in soil fertility and should be taken into consideration to improve soil health.
At the end of the day we could go on and on about cover crops and the numerous benefits to planting them. There is no universal cover crop for all agricultural operations. The choice of cover crop systems depends largely on the benefits you hope to gain from the cover crop. Cover crops should be chosen for their suitability for a production system and the style of farming that the manager wishes to use. The cover crop’s physical stature, water use, and ease of establishment/maintenance are only a few reasons why they should be chosen carefully. That being said, there are a tremendous amount of cover crops to choose from. Start small and experiment to determine which type will most benefit you.
You asked for it, so we developed it. The Farmbrite mobile App is out!
Built by farmers for farmers. The Farmbrite native mobile App for IOS is a simple to use all-in-one agricultural operating system for your farm or livestock business. We've developed Farmbrite to make it simple to plan your season, manage your resources, track your operations, measure your output and understand what is working well and what is not providing valuable insights that can help you run a more efficient and profitable agriculture business.
Running your agricultural business just got a whole lot easier. You don't need an internet connection to input your data, just your mobile device. The information will sync to your account when you're back in range.
Run your farm business from anywhere, anytime.
Key Farmbrite mobile features:
Learn more about Farmbrite
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