From the May 2016 issue of Drovers.

Staying ahead of the curve is a fundamental element to the survival of most businesses. Identifying and embracing new technologies can add efficiencies to inputs such as fertilizer, labor and feed. Often businesses that are more profitable than their competition achieve those margins through savings and increased efficiencies rather than an increase in price point. Profitable businesses tend to realize a higher percentage of every dollar saved rather than an additional dollar earned.

Tighter margins are forecast for beef producers for the intermediate future as the price crunch has begun. All of us have felt the immediate impact on our bottom line. Operating expenses, such as higher cash rents, have escalated to the point producers are staring at spreadsheets trying not to miss the tiniest budgetary detail. The key to successful margin management might be in embracing the same age-old practice that produced the stone wheel—innovation.

Using and investing in innovative technology is innate to many of us born in the “X” and millennial generations. We’ve developed a keen eye for the adaptive nature of technology and its effect on efficiencies. A cutting edge piece of equipment that enables us to ranch additional acres with the same amount of labor, or graze more cow units per acre, falls right in our wheel house.

For example, Camas Uebelacker, owner of C & G Cattle Company in Othello, Wash., has successfully embraced several technologies to advance his business. Camas operates a highly successful feedyard for high risk cattle. At age 34, he has a reputation for supplying elite-level cattle care with a death loss of only 0.02%.

In addition to building a successful high risk feedyard, Camas is expanding his farming operation by capturing value from manure. He uses a Super Beaver, created by the logging industry to screen wood shavings by particle size, to separate composted manure from his feedlot. Smaller screened particles are broadcast over hay ground, while intermediate materials are spread onto crop land. This waste product with limited use, is now a specialized, high value fertilizer.

A typical corn field in that region can demand up to $30,000 in fertility requirements. Camas has cut that cost by more than half through his use of this nontraditional tool and effective manure management. By taking an adaptive approach to waste management, he has successfully cultivated sizeable operational efficiencies and converted a burdensome product into a more renewable resource. Most agriculturalists would agree Cama’s innovation captures the true essence of sustainable agriculture.

This is just one example of a new generation producer cutting a trail through a symbiotic link between hard work and transformative adaptation. The efficiencies gained through Camas’ innovative approach to resource utilization have allowed him to develop additional opportunities for his business to expand. Follow his lead by scheduling time to research and strategize new technologies on a weekly basis. Outside-the-box thinking and planning has considerable value, if executed properly.

Jared Wareham belongs to a team of beef-industry specialists called Allied Genetic Resources. Allied assists seedstock and commercial producers with education and support in the areas of marketing, customer service, genetics and sale management. You can contact him at jwareham79@gmail.com or (660) 492-2777.