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Simplifying ROI

Contributor: Jesus Martinez

Editor: Dave Price

Illustration of different plots of land

“ROI.” That may not be the first thought of motivation each morning as landowners work to preserve the century farm that their great grandparents toiled to build. But it might be the reason that the farm will survive for future generations.


“The general issue with -- at least the customers that we have and folks that we talk to -- is that data is disconnected. There's a high volume of data; it's not necessarily usable. We help to provide a solution, which is to connect that data and make it useful,” said David Nicola, Head of Operations and Finance at CamoAg.


David Nicola, Head of Operations and Finance at CamoAg. Photo courtesy: CamoAg
David Nicola, Head of Operations and Finance at CamoAg. Photo courtesy: CamoAg

CamoAg is a Palatine, Illinois-based farmland software company that supports agricultural lenders, appraisers and real estate agents with agricultural intelligence and workflow platform strategies to help streamline operations with the goal of enhancing ROI.


Nicola – who has spent the past two decades in agriculture direct investment, hedge fund portfolio management and credit trading – believes that farmland owners may feel overwhelmed navigating their marketing strategies and business operations. They can find themselves in situations where their data and transactions can be disorganized, complex, not up to date, or all the above. This makes it hard to track their marketing ROI, which is vital information in any business. 


RELATED:  The Motley Fool offered this perspective: “Since 1991, farmland has produced a positive return every year, generating an average annual return according to the USDA. To put that return into perspective, it has outperformed all other asset classes except the Dow Jones REIT Index during that time frame.” Read that article here, which is part of an overall real estate investor’s guide. 


“We have solutions for marketing, sales, and operations,” Nicola said, “We have marketing and sales enablement solutions which were mostly aimed at ag lenders, which would be farm credit.”


Software can provide services like automatic reminders and electronic signatures to improve efficiency, and detail lease by acre data according to type (e.g., irrigated, dryland, and pasture) to enhance understanding of ROI potential.


“Farmland managers, whether it's an individual, a family office, high net worth, or an actual institution, utilize workflow management solutions, which is really a digitization of a process for managing assets,” Nicola said.


ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE: Growing Produce assembled a list of what it considered the best apps to use artificial intelligence to aid the agricultural industry. Read that here. 


These technological advances can make strategic planning more focused for landowners and operators. But Nicola points out that there is still ROI value in direct mail. In 2023, the company sent out 1 million pieces of direct mail.


“Direct mail is one of the ways in which we have effectively implemented technology and an increase in ROI for certain ag businesses,” Nicola said.


With platforms like these, producers can own their data and upload it to the system which records their transactions. Overall, this data informs the marketing aspect of a business creating useful content.


“There’s an ability to significantly improve this process over time,” Nicola said.


Another solution, Nicola said, is list building. It can save time by filtering customers and creating digital ads targeting the most attractive potential clients. “There's an ability to really match up the data that is behind the scenes and inform your future process so you're spending less money over time,” Nicola said.


The focus is to provide intelligence to those that sell to producers. Building these connections is essential for producers having the resources to make their business less tedious.


NOTE: CamoAg’s David Nicola led a discussion about improving ROI during a breakout session at the 2024 Land Investment Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. 


RELATED: Insight Ace Analytic looks at how large-scale producers use technology to assist with yield monitoring, farm mapping, weather tracking and a variety of other critical areas. Read that here.


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