Sometimes I get a list of questions from clients that they want answered. Invariably, they are mostly yes and no questions.

And then I feel good because I can help them. A lot. The world is rarely black and white, and it’s even more so in farming.

I used to say that every farmer had the same answer regardless of what question you asked them:

“It depends…”

Even if you ask a yes or no question, the answer will likely be, “It depends…”

I used to get frustrated, but then I realized I was missing the real information: not what decisions they made, but how they decided to make them.

Finding out if a customer bought product X, yes or no, tells you only what they did. It’s a bit of data from a moment in time that can change tomorrow. Why?

“It depends…”

…on the weather, on the markets, on the pests, on the rotation, on the comparative prices, on the availability of labor and services, even on the availability of the product.

Every decision rests on multiple factors, each interconnected with the other.

I was at a panel discussion of young farmers, and I loved it when, in response to a question from the audience, the farmer said:

“This still takes some skill and expertise you know…you can’t just leave for 10 days in the middle of the summer and tell the guys to go spray on the 15th. There’s so many factors that go into the decision; you have to be there.”

I like to help companies understand the “it depends…”

That’s how you understand behavior, and that knowledge allows you to predict and change behavior.