Data as a strategic asset: a farmer’s best friend
In part two of this series, Gareth Lash, chair of Trev, shares his views on why data is rapidly becoming a strategic asset for farmers to add to their conventional portfolio of land, capital, livestock and labour to lift farm productivity.
"Everyone in the primary sector is conscious the 'stick' of compliance has sharpened in recent years.
What we often don’t focus on is how that same data can become a strategic ally for a farming business."
- Gareth Lash
Data is rapidly becoming a strategic asset for farmers to add to their conventional portfolio of land, capital, livestock and labour to lift farm productivity.
Put simply, what is measured is known, and what is known can be managed and understood. Data is the resource to base that measurement upon - ultimately adding value to a business’ IP by delivering better outcomes for sustainability, profitability, health and safety and providing the means to manage an operation across a widening range of expectations.
Everyone in the primary sector is conscious the 'stick' of compliance has sharpened in recent years, however what we often don’t focus on is how that same data can also be a strategic ally for a farming business. Whether it’s to build a track record and a licence to farm, to provide continuity, or to increase productivity and farm profitability.
Data capture by Canterbury dairy farmers in the Selwyn district for example has enabled them to prove they are meeting the region’s 30% nitrogen loss reduction target set by Environment Canterbury. Seventy percent of farmers in the catchment have met the 30% requirement, and secured their right to continue farming.
Data flows from day-to-day farm activities - such as milk volumes, animal weights or crop yields - are now collated and funnelled through software, offering daily performance insights. For example, cow collar technology helps detect individual animals with health issues affecting production, often identifying them before they become critical. Whole herd data collation and monitoring then provides herd 'metadata' that can provide solid benchmark indicators and KPIs on herd performance.
At a farm operational level, benchmarking key performance indicators like round length, feed conversion efficiency and cow milking days can all be compared to other farms in a portfolio, in the district, region or within the country.
Flowing from the capture of physical on farm data means farm profitability also benefits. The traditional retrospective annual set of farm accounts no longer offer enough value for farming businesses wanting to respond to rapidly changing, volatile market conditions through the current farming year.
Data regularly entered into software like Trev or Figured can provide updates on a farm’s true operational position, providing alerts on impending issues, and insights to opportunities for tactical investment and expenditure decisions that dated annual accounts can never offer.
It also provides a mechanism to build a track record of farm business performance over the years, validating production and sustainability claims. This is equally relevant to current and prospective farm owners undertaking their due diligence process - demonstrating that farm data is fast becoming a strategic asset.
Missed the first part of this series?
Catch up on the Industry Data Collection & Use article.