Top Producer

From Precision Agriculture to Decision Agriculture

By Ben Riensche
December 1, 2013
At a Feeding the Planet Summit hosted by George Washington University, Bayer CropScience’s David Hollinrake, vice president of Agricultural Commercial Operations Marketing, shared the importance of research in helping farmers feed more than 9 billion people by 2050.

“Research is the key to enabling healthy food for everyone,” said Hollinrake. The challenge with the wealth of data available is how to help farmers translate the data into capabilities to do more on the same amount of land. Hollinrake stressed the importance of moving from “precision agriculture” to what he termed “decision agriculture.”

Hollinrake said Bayer CropScience’s goal is to find solutions that address this and many other challenges farmers face while conserving resources and ensuring long-term sustainability. Hollinrake pointed to the increasing problem of weed control, which is estimated to impact more than 50% of U.S. farmers. Hollinrake explained that weed control is critical because it’s estimated that weeds consume enough food to feed 1 billion people.

“Continued investment in research and development offers the best hope of addressing such challenges,” Hollinrake said.

We’re unlocking the mystery and getting inside the heads of Top Producer of the Year winners, with the hopes that you’ll pick up some tips to incorporate into your own farm. We asked Ben┬áRiensche, the 2001 winner, what he knows now that he wishes he knew 30 years ago.

“Swing for the fences. I’m not saying you should forget about managing risk, but set your sights higher than you can imagine-you might just get there. In the early years, my thinking was shaded by the 1980s and early 1990s. I reached my goals faster than I ever anticipated.

“Make an effort to build a quality peer network. Include the best farmers you know who operate outside of your area so you don’t compete. Everyone involved will encounter similar challenges, except at different times. You’ll find that it’s valuable to be advised by your colleagues.

“Socializing with other outstanding farmers is also important. Make sure they visit your farm often. You are probably moving at a different pace than most. Your connections with them will help your family and team better understand why you march to the beat of a different drum.”

Ben Riensche
Jesup, Iowa
2001 Top Producer of the Year

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