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Connecting Bold Thinkers in a Time of Change: A presentation by AG Wright.

ROSS DAWSON

A stand-out seminar at CropTec 2023 was “Connecting Bold Thinkers in a Time of Change. Real Stories from Boots on the Ground.” Hosted by Andrew Francis of Team AG, the panel included AG Wright Farm Director Jack Smith, who spoke about why he chose to join the YAGRO platform and the value he’s found in advanced farm data analytics. 

AG Wright & Son's Farming Landscape

AG Wright & Son, based in Cambridgeshire, farm around 1800 ha which includes 1600ha of cereals, plus potatoes and stewardship. Their soil types vary from black Fen to sandy loams, and they serve a range of end markets including premium wheat and pre-packaged potatoes. 

As a family-owned business, there is an emphasis on sustaining good soil quality for future generations whilst managing tightening gross margins.

Industry Shifts and Risk Mitigation

Jack Smith began by openly stating that the profitability of any business is necessary for its survival. Citing the evolving agricultural landscape Jack says we’re in “a huge time of change, no matter which graph you look at. Prices increasing, BPS decreasing [...] We must manage these changes to reduce their risk.” 

Available Technology

Jack emphasises that “choosing the right technology is essential” when seeking to mitigate risk and propel your business forwards. Tech must provide “returns on investment and returns on your time”, noting there are many solutions to choose from.

Allocating resources to innovation is essential for future-proofing a farming business. However, as Andrew Francis says, “new innovations are often the hardest to justify.”

AG Wright chose to use YAGRO’s platform to drive efficiencies across their operation. Goals for joining included assessing Nitrogen regimes, optimising gross margins and “crucial benchmarking opportunities.” 

Jack initially asked YAGRO “What are you doing that’s new? And how can you help us think outside the box?”

AG Wright now “work very closely with YAGRO” according to Jack, who appreciates the “extensive amounts of farm data we had and weren’t making the most of.” 

The Value of Accurate Farm Data Analytics

When asked what the main areas of value AG Wright have benefited from since using YAGRO, Jack answered “navigating accurate costs of production which helps to optimise margins. Plus, driving value through accurate and reliable farm benchmarking.” Jack now sees data-led decision making as “paving the way to profitability.”

Jack continues by saying “input data at crop and field level is perhaps our most useful tool” out of the many features offered by YAGRO. “This helps us know what’s working, why and in what situations [...] It’s an innovative way to optimise your costs.” 

Farming isn’t about “chasing a quick buck”, says Jack, but “cost of production is always something we’re working hard at. So being able to associate costs and justify decisions” via YAGRO’s farm data analysis has become an essential part of the operation.

Unlocking More Through Farm Data and Networking

Jack also nods to an additional service YAGRO provide which underscores our commitment to on-farm value and that of farm data – YAGRO Virtual Groups. 

Virtual Groups are optional peer-groups of likeminded farmers who benefit from insights in a group setting, meeting together with YAGRO Data Analysts. Knowledge is pooled. Lessons are shared. This is reliable and accurate farm benchmarking. 

Jack explains that “finding an organisation you can get on well with” and openly working to extract value from partnerships and networks around you is key to success. 

Jack continues to highlight this vital “connecting piece” as an enormous opportunity for farmers to come together and enhance the existing benefits provided by online tools and farm data. 

He succinctly summarises YAGRO Virtual Groups as “a route to new thinking.”

Concluding

Jack thanked The Institute of Agricultural Management and YAGRO for their role in enhancing and supporting the farming operation at AG Wright thus far. 

Other panellists agreed with Jack’s emphasis on technology, with Jo Franklin at Kaiapoi Farms saying that “tech is the direction of travel.”

It’s about marrying the vast amount of technology available to farms with data-driven decision making to maximise on-farm value.

Listening and responding to your farm data is the surest way to mitigate risk and grow your business in today’s climate, and tools are available for achieving this. 

What more could you know about your farm? Click HERE to find out. 

Further Reading 

YAGRO identify Risk Mitigation, cited above, as a core area of value provided by advanced farm data analytics. Read this article to find out more: Fortify Your Farm.

The topic of time saving and time management on farm, cited by Jack as a key measure of effective technology, is a topic we covered with another YAGRO Farmer Will Oliver. Read this article to find out more: Time Well Spent.

Ross grew up on his family's arable farm near Bury St Edmunds, where he currently lives with his wife, son and cocker spaniel named Bella. Ross has been involved in agriculture his whole career, starting off in seed sales, where he also gained his BASIS Seed Sellers qualification, before moving into purchasing arable Inputs, including seed, fertiliser & crop protection products. Before joining YAGRO, Ross was the Farmer Engagement Manager for Camgrain. In his words: "I pride myself on my ability to communicate, engage and cultivate relationships with customers to best support, develop, and grow their businesses. I have always had a fascination with technology and believe that organised, validated, ‘real world’ data will be pivotal for enhancing decision making on farms as we move through the next phases of UK agriculture."