From Our Partners: Putting Irrigation Data to Work

November 29, 2017

Nick Lammers and Matt Maloney are based out of Wood River, Nebraska and started Precision Agronomy Solutions to help better connect growers with the tools and insights they need to run more efficient, profitable operations. In addition to his business, Nick is a FarmLogs Partner and uses our platform as a way to support his customers with making tough management and financial decisions.

 

Tell us a little bit about your background in agriculture

Nick: I have a degree in Ag Education, Ag Economics, and Agronomy. I continued my education and received a Master's degree in Ag Education and then taught Ag for five years. From there I went into the seed business, and I worked with a small company called Prairie Valley Hybrids out of south-central Nebraska.

After many years with different seed companies, I had worked in pretty much every aspect of the business. I finished as the coordinator of the Moisture Probe Program with Monsanto. When they ended the program I could have stayed on as an agronomist on the seed side. But, I really had a passion for water and wanted to continue the high level of service we had started with those 850 growers who had been a part of the program. So, I left Monsanto and went to work with CropMetrics full-time in 2013 as the Agronomic Service Lead, where I still train and certify all the CropMetrics dealers. I also started a CropMetrics dealership called Precision Agronomy Solutions with Matt. 

Matt: Growing up, my dad was a livestock farmer who raised hogs. Eventually, raising hogs just wasn’t profitable enough for us so we shifted to just farming our acreage. When I got out of school, I basically started farming right away, so really I’ve farmed all my life right up until Nick and I founded Precision Agronomy Solutions. Having a farming background really allows me to know what farmers are feeling, and help them find the tools that work best for their operation. I don’t sell products that I don’t believe in, so knowing what will actually help the farmer is huge for me.

 

Nick Lammers and Matt Maloney

Matt Malony adjusting a weather station.

 

What are some of the challenges that farmers experience, especially with water management?

Nick: Prices are a big challenge right now. There's a very slim profit margin in the business of raising corn, or pretty much any commodity, so growers have to be efficient.

Farmers have to make sure that they're spending every dollar in a manner that will return some profit on that investment.

There's not much of a margin for error so growers can’t afford to just invest in something to see what happens. I’ve heard many say that, "Technology has to prove itself. If it doesn't make me money, it's gone.”

Matt: Irrigation is a fairly expensive process. If you have a gas or diesel power unit, it will probably cost you somewhere between $1,000 and $1,200 just to make a circle with that pivot system. If working with somebody like Precision Agronomy and CropMetrics can save you a revolution or two, that's money you can put back into your pocket. That also means that you’re saving around 9 million gallons of water, which has a huge impact on society because that water is a precious resource.

 

How does technology play a role in water management?

Nick: One of the bigger challenges for the growers we work with is record-keeping. In some areas, the government requires certain records that need to be kept. Part of that comes down to not having enough time, and a system that would be simple and easy to use would enhance record keeping practices. FarmLogs Essentials looks like an excellent tool for that process.

Matt: Even my farm’s records were never that good, and we always knew we had to start doing a better job — I think most farmers feel the same way. A lot of farmers just have stuff written in a book, but having that information in FarmLogs can be really helpful. It's pretty cool to have some of that technology, especially on a mobile device versus on paper, because you can go back and reference it quickly and easily.

 

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What are the benefits of preparing a pre-season plan putting together a plan for irrigation?

Nick: A lot of growers don’t really have a plan for how much they’ll spend on it. With the current technology it’s so easy to over water, because most of the pivots can be controlled by your phone now. You don't have to drive out to the pivot to get started.

Now that it’s so easy to do, growers don't always think of the cost attached to that.

There’s obvious costs like fuel, parts, and labor. Then, there are your secondary costs, like overwatering (which ends up reducing your yields). 

Growers should be sitting down thinking, “Here's my cash flow, and if I'm going to water six times I know that every time I turn that pivot on it could cost me $1,000.” If you have that in your budget, and you end up not having to water six times, that $6,000 goes right back in your pocket. Those are the types of decisions you can make with tools like FarmLogs and CropMetrics solutions.

 

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 Adding irrigation expenses in the FarmLogs Planner Tool 

 

How can FarmLogs Essentials help your growers?

Nick: The Planner tool is pretty unique, and I think that it’s something our growers are really going to like. I see it being really helpful for getting a handle on your finances and developing a plan for your season, and it’s going to help growers make sure that they're spending money in the areas that need to be spent in.

When you're doing your taxes, you're going to be meeting with your accountant and gathering a lot of information about your operation, which is a great opportunity to start using Planner to develop your plan for next year. I would start the planning process right then.

Matt: Over the winter we, as farmers, really need to think about what we did wrong last year so that it doesn't happen again. The Planner tool can be really beneficial because you can map out a rough plan for your operation that incorporates the things you want to adjust based on last season. 

And the Marketing tool is something that a lot of guys could benefit from. As a farmer, I looked at this tool and knew that it would be useful right away.

Nick: With the current market conditions, there's a huge opportunity to increase your profit with the Marketing tool.

Even saving just a couple of cents can really make an impact on your overall profitability.

Matt was telling me the other day that you don't always realize what just a couple of cents per bushel does to your bottom line until you have a way to visualize it like you can in the Marketing tool.

 

The FarmLogs Marketing tool.
FarmLogs Marketing Tool 

 

With all of this data, how do you glean actionable insights from it?

Nick: That's exactly what the grower wants to figure out. I mean, they don’t want more data. They don't want more technology.

Growers want to be able to make good management decisions that put money back in their pocket.

Matt: That’s why we joined the FarmLogs Partner Program. In addition to the Customer Experience team that FarmLogs has, we have the opportunity to be the boots on the ground support for our farmers. Every week, we meet with our customers and recommend what they might need to be doing based on the data. With FarmLogs, I can use the data already in their account to explain what I think would be really helpful. It’s a tool that can be very valuable in your conversations with any consultants you work with.


To learn more about Precision Agronomy Solutions, or ask Nick and Matt a question about your water management, visit their website, h20agronomy.com!

 

Stop focusing on yield, start focusing on profits

Rachel Nizinski

Author

Rachel Nizinski is a Michigan native who developed a passion for agriculture throughout her time growing up in the Midwest. She attended Saginaw Valley State University, and joined the FarmLogs team as a content writer in 2016.