Thinking Ahead For Next Season

Dec 01, 2021

Written By: Jeremy German

What a time to be alive! Agriculture industry veterans across the West have been absolutely baffled by the plethora of unexpected variables that affected our industry in 2021. For most farms, the last major catastrophic impact on production and economics was the excess moisture in 2016. Looking back, those were simpler times and I think we would all take a few drops of moisture from 2016 at this point. 

Simple supply and demand of agriculture inputs (and thankfully grain outputs) are driving markets to new record prices. The wild crop protection and fertilizer ride is only compounded by the fact that we are limited to growing our crop in a short, four month growing season. Crop planning for 2022 is challenging our team to anticipate and address factors that are beyond our control. The potential rewards of managing through this season will be very high. Commodity prices have set the stage for a lot of profitable acres in 2022.

At G-Mac’s AgTeam, we have a few suggestions to keep your farm on track next season. The following suggestions will not replenish or guarantee soil moisture increases, but they will lead to some solid goal setting and planning for 2022. The first is our digitized crop plan. We were fortunate to adopt a crop planning platform developed in Australia for use in cereal crops similar to those grown in Western Canada. Many of the apps and software offerings in agriculture are targeted at the corn and soybean growers in the U.S. and are not really a fit for our cereal grains. Anyone who runs a John Deere combine knows that it was not until recent years that they started to really tailor engineering in their combines to work for our small seeded cereals and pulses. Crop planning software is somewhat similar to the corn combine example; we were in need of a platform that was designed for Western Canadian farms. The value in our approach is that we know your farm, create a plan to fit your production needs, and then tweak the plan as needed throughout the season. This method takes a few meetings to get things started, but once the field-by-field plans are initiated, they can be easily updated with changing growing conditions as the season progresses. The result of this effort is a long term look at the investment and product supply needs for your farm. There is a significant return on investment in “digitizing the farm”. 

Digitizing the farm is a current buzz term in agriculture, but we know that digital adoption will be a big part of your farm’s future. Even a simple move from handwritten sprayer records to an as-applied record in our digital platform is a step toward digitizing your farm. We are working to improve our CrOptics service by partnering with a Canadian tech startup called UKKO Agro. UKKO has expertise in crop modeling and disease predictive analytics. Our approach includes strategically placed weather stations on your farm to collect and interpret the abiotic (weather related) influences that will have an impact on your fields. Predicting crop stage and even disease risk can be done with a high degree of accuracy and is delivered directly to your phone. When this technology is paired with our local field experience, efficiencies are created to streamline the process of planning, logistics, and agronomic considerations. This delivers a precise date of application without the stressful guesswork. 

As we approach 2022, there are already a number of indicators that point toward supply constraints. Our manufacturing partners throughout the world have proposed a number of potential factors that will impact supply, but we feel the most significant is raw material shortages and escalating costs of chemical ingredients. North American formulation plants are currently “tapped out” due to weather events, labour shortages, and logistics problems on the West Coast. In any business, it is always comforting to know you have control over production. After a drought, we know how that feels. But the chemical supply is concerning. The world is battling through the COVID-19 pandemic and we are at the mercy of global logistics jams. One underlying driver of logistics is energy and there are hints that some places in the world will be tight on supply of base energy such as electricity and natural gas. Rationing fuel supply in global leaders of formulation, such as India or China, for as little as one month would create a mess of production and logistics for chemicals and fertilizer coming our way. Ocean freight price increases and port congestion are only going to make it more critical to plan what your farm needs and, more importantly, position it so that you have control of your farm operations. 

G-Mac’s AgTeam is working hard behind the scenes to uphold our position as a trusted business partner with our customers. We will continue to make every effort to ensure procurement of the products and services you need to meet your 2022 production goals. The better we plan and forecast your individual farm needs, the better chance there is for successful execution. I encourage you to work proactively with your ACE or Account Manager in order to meet these challenges together. 

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