Incorporate Your Farm Data Into Your Strategy To Give Your Business The Edge It Needs


Every farmer can tell you that farming is a game of decisions. But what are those decisions based upon? Is it hunch-feel or solid information? Perhaps often something in between.  

It’s increasingly evident that a movement towards data-led decision-making is key to optimising farm performance. It is ultimately about validating a course of action before committing to it.   

As a necessity, farms already capture a wealth of information, from seed rates & drill dates to accounts and compliance details. How can this be elevated to true on-farm value? Well, to quote Peter Drucker: “Data is information endowed with relevance and purpose.” 

From the ground up, things like soil moisture, crop level yields, weather patterns and input applications are all being recorded. Be it in a diary, on a whiteboard or on a spreadsheet. We believe that centralising your farm data and incorporating it into your strategy is essential to achieving your goals as efficiently as possible.  

It’s likely you already have set goals and ambitions in mind for your farm. These could include planning to grow or expand, to boost your efficiency or to fortify your bottom line. Some may simply possess a desire to expand their knowledge; all key to unlocking the potential of your operation. 

By incorporating your pre-existing farm data into your overall strategy, you are aligning your decision-making with all the relevant information. It’s about being able to make accurate decisions based on outcomes. Above all, it’s a transition to a new way of thinking. Over time, the correct implementation of data capture and analysis forms real-world, actionable insights.

Here are some considerations which are already taking place on farm that you can elevate to greater value:  

  • Invoices allow you to undertake a procurement review.  

  • Farm management software allows for input application benchmarking. 

  • Combine telematics and weigh bridge data can uncover variety and individual field performance, both internally and vs the wider market. 

  • Year-on-year field level data provides detailed field rankings and rotational analysis.  

One of the most powerful aspects of understanding your farm data is how it can reveal patterns and trends across your farm. As well as saving time, which itself has monetary value, it enables a proactive approach by providing insights that you can use to pivot and mitigate risk.  

It truly is a case of the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.  

For example, Alan Clifton-Holt and his 1’400ha arable enterprise benefited from some detailed comparisons. By participating in YAGRO Virtual Groups, Alan was able to identify key differences in his operation compared to similar farms within his area which were contributing to a spread in his yields. By analysing the 2022 harvest in detail, Alan realised his drill window of over six weeks for Winter Wheat was an outlying factor. 

After investing in a second drill, Alan’s capacity increased by around 30% (with the second drill covering 240ha of Winter Wheat) and his drill window narrowed significantly. Not only did this mitigate risks of adverse weather, but it is estimated to enhance his yield by up to 2t/ha. That’s an extra 2t/ha across 240ha. At £220/t (based upon average commodity market prices) this is an opportunity worth up to £105,000.  

An incorporated data strategy clearly has worth greater than the sum of its parts. A sentiment echoed by another YAGRO user James Hawes of Westfield farms, who agreed “the planning and management of inputs is all made irrelevant if you let the data slip”. 

If nothing else, begin thinking about what tools you currently have, and what additional insights you need to meet your specific goals. As the season progresses, you will encounter numerous opportunities which invite a contribution from your data. Such as a post-harvest wash-up meetings, sales reviews, or account meetings. 

Often, given the wealth of data farms are already obliged to collect, finding other farms to collaborate with through YAGRO Virtual Groups is a great stepping-stone towards true optimisation.  

Calibrating your long-term farming goals without a sound understanding of what your data is telling you is akin to Spraying without checking your nozzles. 

Instead, seek to understand the true cost associated with every decision you make and gain the exact information you need; whether that’s a bird's eye view or field level detail. Your farm data holds the key.  

Incorporate your farm data into your strategy to give your business the edge it needs.