So, my title is indeed relevant to this post, but I admit I made it sound outlandish in order to really pique your curiosity. A 266% return on investment (ROI)?? What am I talking about? After all, these days you are hard pressed to find interest rates on a 12-month cd higher than 1%, and banks even have billboards advertising such rates as if that is impressive! You've got to be kidding me! But, I digress.... This isn't about interest rates at a financial institution. It's actually about a 266% ROI based on one farming operation's experience using a 23-year no-till system and integrating cover crops into that system. But, even more than that, this post is actually about the value of counting the cost in general. Not just for farmers, but for all of us.
First, the 266% figure. The article in which this story was recorded is from No-Till Farmer Magazine. The farming operation is located in Indiana. The article breaks down into three categories the economics of what they are trying: #1 is the cost of the cover-crops; #2 is the savings they experience through using cover-crops; #3 is the soil health increase they see through using cover-crops.
I am not going to include the charts and graphs into this blog post because some of you might just be interested in the overall general life-lesson here, but if you are interested in the actual article, send me an email and I will send you a link to the article.
But, the gist of it is this: these folks have sat down and counted the cost vs. benefit per acre of every aspect of using cover-crops. Here is the breakdown:
Costs they take into account: seed, aerial seeding, tractor hours, labor, fuel, planter repairs/wear.
Economic benefits they take into account: fertilizer saved, crop yield increase, drought tolerance, soil quality, erosion reduction, CSP program payment.
And because they are doing this on a field that has been continuous no-till for 23 years, at the end of the day, they can honestly show a 266% return on investment of using cover-crops on that field.
Now, before you start breaking out in a cold sweat, wondering, "how can I get involved in something that would give me a 266% return on investment??" because that sounds crazy, but also tempting...... Like a Ponzi scheme that I might fall for.... The point of this blog post is not to get you to translate into your own life "where can you make financial investments that will bring in those kinds of returns?" The point of this blog post is to use a really extreme example in order to remind us all of the immense value of sitting down and counting the cost in the most common, mundane aspects of our own lives.
Every choice we make, be it financial, time, relationships, etc, etc, can be evaluated in a cost/benefit way. But, I don't necessarily mean the financial cost and the financial benefit. There are lots of way to evaluate cost/benefit that don't necessarily translate into dollars. An example: Say my son has a soccer game in a neighboring town. Should I go to the game? Yes or No? Well, I might find the best answer to that question if I first evaluate it from a cost/benefit standpoint. In order to do that I need to answer a few questions: How much will it cost in fuel to drive to the game and home again? Will I be gone over the supper hour? If so, will I: skip supper, bring a sandwich with me, buy fast food or buy food at the concession stand? Will any of my other kids want to come along? How much will that increase food costs? How much does it cost to get into the game? Again, how much more will it cost depending on any other kids who join me? What about the time I will spend - driving to the game, driving home, and actually watching the game? What will I NOT be able to accomplish at home by choosing to go to his soccer game? Can I do those things at a later time? Will I be missing something that is time-specific such as a meeting or the school event of one of my other kids? What will it mean to my son that I attend his game? Have I missed all of his previous games? Have I attended all of his previous games? And, when the time comes that he graduates and moves away from home, how important will it have been to me that I went to THIS particular game? How important will it have been that I went to ANY of his games?
This is counting the cost. My simple yes-or-no question is not so simple if I really take time to sit down and count the cost.
I realize this sounds exhausting. But, that just may be why so many people live with so many regrets. They made decisions that they thought at the time were simple but didn't realize the long-term impact of those decisions because they didn't take time to sit down and count the cost.
This can be played out on the farm field, the soccer field, or wherever life takes you. Sitting down and counting the cost can be the best way to know if you are going to get a really good return on investment, whatever the currency - money, time, relationships, etc. Is it exhausting to do this? Sometimes. But, anything that is worth doing well takes a little extra effort and attention. I am of the mind that how we spend our lives is definitely worth the extra effort.
Peace my friends,