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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Sep 6, 2018


I recently built a garden shed, and as I was measuring a stud to cut, it suddenly struck me that no matter what cut I was making, I never measured the bit I didn’t want--I always measured the part I was going to use. But how often in life and work is our focus on that little leftover scrap of wood we don’t want?

  • I don’t want lazy workers
  • I don’t want to be overweight
  • I don’t want to be broke
  • I don’t want bad yields
  • I don’t want people making mistakes

We’d never build a shed with instructions stating only how much to take off each piece, yet it can be tempting to focus our emotion on things we don’t want.

“POSITIVE MEASURES” Farming and America’s quest for higher yield = Proof that what we focus on, grows!

Year vs. U.S. Corn yield
1930 = 30 bushel/acre
1960 = 60+ bushel/acre
1980 = 100 bushel/acre
2017 = 176+ bushel/acre

Caution: When we concentrate on a narrow focus, we risk tunnel vision and losing perspective of overall goals. We can get so focused on that singular goal that all other aspects of the business or our lives fall away.

  • Obsession with weight, diet and exercise can create risk of anorexia.
  • If we worry only about our retirement account, we miss out on enjoying today.
  • Pursuit of huge yields could cause us to ignore the overall goal of profitability.

Billy Beane (of Oakland A’s) understood this and began looking at players’ “on-base percentages” to uncover undervalued players. This approach, made famous in the hit book and movie, Moneyball, brought one of the lowest-budget teams from a .400 season to a .630 season in six years.Remember: You get more of what you measure...but you have to temper that with a consistent vision of the “Big Picture” to keep from going astray.


  1. What do you want for your farm 10 to 20 years in the future? Keep that vision in mind, and use it to guide your decisions.
  2. What key measurements do you need to be making regularly in order to stay on track for that vision? 
  3. Create systems and habits for performing these measurements so that you’re never operating in the dark.
  4. When checking the numbers, determine what and if any action needs to be taken to make improvements.

Thanks for listening! Do you have any questions or comments on this or any of our other episodes? I’d love to hear them. Send me an email at and I will respond as soon as possible. I really appreciate hearing from our listeners. Keep those comments and suggestions coming in. Until next week...