ILSOYADVISOR POST

The Bottleneck

Now that harvest is over, all of the bushels will soon be accurately counted and from the profit capital investment can be purchased. Regardless of your farm’s size or how much money is in your checking account, you are the CEO and president of your company and your farm. It is 100% up to you to make sound agronomic decisions, but to also make good, sound financial decisions.
 
Several years ago I was talking with a family member who farms, and they were telling me how they just got done with harvest and were thinking about buying a new, larger combine. I asked them, “Why do you need a new combine”? 
 
Famer Reply:
“So, we can harvest more acres faster.” AND
“Need to spend money for taxes.”
 
Our conversation went on so that I could better understand their operation. I then asked, “How often does your combine sit at the edge of the field now?”
 
Farmer Reply: 
“It’s always sitting. We can’t get the grain away from the field fast enough. We are growing more bushels now on every acre.”
 
My follow up reflection was that if your smaller combine is currently sitting now and if you buy a bigger combine that can harvest more bushels faster, how often will that next combine be sitting?
 
Farmer Reply:
“Well, I don’t know; I haven’t thought about that.”
 
Based off that response I was able to take our conversation on a remarkably interesting journey. I explained that we need to investigate the “bottleneck.” What are the true pain points that slow down harvest efficiency? 
 
What are the actual “bottlenecks?"
  1. Not having enough trucks to haul grain from the harvest site causing combine to sit
  2. Not enough grain cart space to hold grain for trucks
  3. Long lines at the elevator slowing trucks
After the discussion had time to settle, my family member contacted me a few weeks later to say thank you. He told me our discussion saved him from buying a new, larger combine that he actually didn’t need, and he would have just been more upset at harvest because the combine would be sitting even more. Instead, they purchased a new semi-truck, a grain cart and are setting up more storage at regional sites. 
 
At the end of the day, every farm is different and as farm profitability becomes more volatile and challenging, we must look at each situation differently. Will this purchase reduce a “bottleneck’s” impact on the operation, reaching higher yields, etc.? Sometimes it’s just having a different kind of conversation that can change perspective and help you make a better long-term decision. What are your “Bottlenecks”? Go fix them!

Todd Steinacher
Steinacher is an ISA CCA Soy Envoy alum and currently supports ISA on agronomic content as well as serving as an Illinois CCA board member. Since 2015, he has been a regional agronomist with AgriGold in West Central Illinois. His previous experience includes 10 years as a sales agronomist in the GROWMARK-FS system. Steinacher has an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a B.S. in agronomy and business from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. If you have any questions for him about this article, he can be reached at steinacher@ilsoy.org.


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