What is in this article?:
It takes “devotion to do precision ag” at Jeremy Hopper’s level, says Jason Hamlin, North Delta Crop Consulting, Dyersburg, Tenn. If a piece of precision equipment goes on the fritz mid-harvest, for example, or a prescription file is bad, “you have to be willing to stop and fix it. It’s one thing talking about this and another thing implementing it. A lot of people try it and quit.”
What’s next for this “numbers” guy? “The easy stuff, we’ve done now,” Hopper says. “Where we go from here is a question. The next steps — variable-rate population, hybrid changes within fields — these will take a lot more time and energy.”
Jeremy Hopper, Tiptonville, Tenn., uses precision data to make many agronomic and management decisions.
About Jeremy Hopper
In 2004 and 2005, Jeremy Hopper went through Texas A & M University’s Executive Program for Agricultural Producers (TEPAP), the famed management workshop that teaches farmers agribusiness skills. “That opened up my eyes to a lot of things we could do,” says Hopper, 41, who manages several thousand acres of cropland in northwestern Tennessee and southwestern Kentucky.
Soon after, he joined FamilyFarms Group [http://familyfarmsgroup.com/], a Brighton, Ill.-based consortium of producers and business consultants, which is helping him put some of those ideas into practice. FamilyFarms members work one-on-one with experts in a wide range of business areas, including finance, marketing, human resources, GIS technology, and regulatory compliance, says a company spokesperson.
Hopper also belongs to a professional development group, sharing expertise and best practices with a group of 13 row-crop farm managers from around the country.
He’s learned to seek out niche crop opportunities, prepared a written crisis-management plan to deal with hazardous spills, and installed special locks on grain bins and chemical and fertilizer storage.
Hopper also invests in annual third-party audits of his environmental and safety practices, performed by Validus, Des Moines, Iowa. Hopper compares this certification process to ISO-9001, a widely used industrial management benchmark. “We want to make sure we’re doing a good job,” he says. Third-party certification “helps us stand out from others, and brings us up to another level of management.”