The risk of not taking risks

Cutting costs without compromising yield.

I would say that this sums up the general gist of our  south-east Monitor Farm topics and discussions over the past year. We meticulously examined subjects such as:

  • weed and pest control
  • soil and machinery investment
  • grain marketing strategies
  • collaborative ventures
  • diversification and biodiversity
  • the benefits of cover crops and companion cropping.

So did we find that silver bullet; a risk-free strategy that suits all? Well, not exactly, but these discussions showed all that there is definitely more than one way to crack a nut. Unfortunately the fact is there isn’t one solution that fits all. What may work successfully for one may well do the opposite for another. However, what is for certain, is our regional Monitor Farm and benchmarking discussions do generate many relatively risk-free, nugget ideas and messages for others to ponder over or try on their own farm.

There is no doubt that people attend these meetings for many various reasons: learning from experts, seeing and debating real farming problems, and enjoying the social element that these meeting have. However, what is always apparent at these meetings is the general thirst people have for innovative ideas that help promote efficiency and reduce risk in their businesses.

It isn’t surprising, then, that much of what we discuss relates to risk and how much we are willing to take. This subject can often be very contentious but also very interesting. We always seem to have an array of interesting opinions and thoughts, some of which I’m sure are governed by personal business circumstances.

However, what is clear for everyone to see is the fact that our Monitor Farmers are risk takers: this is part of their work ethos, trying to develop strategies that benefit the future resilience and economic sustainability of their business. In order for us all to achieve this, can we afford to ignore the importance of taking risks? Is the biggest risk to your business actually not taking risks?

As humans it’s easy to settle in our comfort zones, continuing with our normal work days and strategies. By doing this we don’t have to think about any risks – it’s business as usual

But can we afford to take risks? Well, entrepreneurs do it – they speculate to accumulate in order to increase their personal wealth. But, the risks they take are calculated.

A calculated risk is about knowing the probability of success together with the potential consequences associated with it being successful or, not.

Therefore, surely as farmers we all need to follow the entrepreneurial rules, making sure we have thoroughly done our homework and we know our business costs, objectives and goals.  It’s only from doing this you can be sure you are taking the correct calculated risk for your business.

Finally, as technology entrepreneur Mark Zuckenburg said: “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash



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