Farming has really changed over the years. Just like cars, medicine, and technology, farming has evolved a lot. You may picture us in dirty t-shirts, flannel, jeans, and work boots (and you wouldn’t be wrong..), but our jobs aren’t much different than yours that consist of dress shirts and khakis. While there are still older generations out there driving their original tractors and keeping their operations simple, there are a lot of farmers embracing technology and a more structured farming approach.
My husband and I both work “in town,” as he would say. So we’re no strangers to computers, emails, phone calls, spreadsheets, and numerous software programs. And when we log off our work computers, gather up our things, and leave our offices for the day, we step into our virtual or remote offices. In other words, our laptops, tablets, and tractors. Yes, I said tractors.
That spreadsheet you just prepared at work for your product inventory or monthly costs? Yeah, we have those, too. When you’re entering all those numbers into columns, preparing a formula, and coming up with a monthly/quarterly/yearly figure, we’re doing the same thing. We enter how much seed and fertilizer we purchased and how much we used for each field. Oh, and we have columns for parts, repair costs, and fuel. Can’t forget to figure those in.
Do you ever use the cloud to store files, or to download onto another device? Guess what- we do, too. Just last week my husband said to me, “Oh I need to get on the computer later tonight and download our prescriptions from Dropbox.” (Prescriptions in farming are the percentage and combinations of fertilizer to put on different parts of a field). And we have also been known to use a thumb drive every now and then to pull reports from monitors in the tractor and save them to our laptop.
Seriously, there are more monitors in our tractors than there are in my office at work.
And you know how at your office there are different departments, with people focusing on their specific tasks? That’s how we roll, too. During planting we’ve got someone running the corn planter, someone else running the bean planter, and someone running the seed tender to fill up the planters as we go. As soon as planting is done, someone hops in the tractor to spread fertilizer, while someone else hops in the sprayer. During baling we’ve got people driving tractors, someone else picking up the bales, and others back at the barn to unload and stack. When it comes to harvest, we’ve got someone running the combine, usually two people driving truck to haul the load back to the farm, and then someone filling up the grain bins. Multi-tasking? We’ve got it down.
While our meetings don’t take place around a conference room table, we still have them. They’re usually a little less formal, either around a kitchen table or out in the shop surrounded by equipment and parts. We’ve got budgets, goals, and schedules to go over, just like any other business. And if you know how it feels to never have enough hours in the day–don’t worry, we feel it, too.
We have to run our operation like a business, because it is one. That means long days, stressful times, and embracing technology to constantly improve. If nothing else, maybe these things you can relate to.