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Guest Opinions

The Innovations of Ranchers: How Every Business Can Benefit from Technological Advancements

Written by Mike Enzi

If you want to run a successful business, it helps to be innovative. Powerful technology is becoming more accessible to us every day – for example, an iPhone has four times as much processing power as NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover. 

It may not always be easy to know what opportunities are out there for your business. One of the best ways to find out is to learn what innovators in other industries are doing. Ranchers in Wyoming are a perfect example of an industry taking advantage of technological advancements to improve efficiency and marketing. 

Ashley Garrelts, who lives in Douglas and works for the University of Wyoming Extension, runs a blog called Writing on the Range. She writes about topics like grazing, rangeland soils, livestock herd systems and technology in ranching. Garrelts explains that the number of agriculture technology investors increased by 52 percent during the first half of 2016. Prior to that, new technologies were lacking.

“If you spend time with a rancher, you will soon come to learn they are innovative,” she writes on her blog. “They have to be.”

For her, part of this innovation includes smartphone apps. Garrelts shares a spreadsheet of helpful apps she has used.

“These apps allow managers to keep records and make decisions based on those records,” she writes.

Her list includes a pasture map, soil survey data, a grazing calculator and even a manure analyzer. 

An important aspect of any business is marketing, and social media can be an incredible resource. Social media platforms allow you to quickly interact with customers, connect with new audiences and promote your brand.

Mike and Erin Galloway recently created a YouTube channel, Our Wyoming Life, to share their experiences and the ways they have diversified to keep their ranch afloat. 

“The series invites viewers to experience Wyoming ranch life and learn about everything from raising livestock to raising and harvesting crops and everything in between,” Mike writes on his website. “Our goal is to bring the consumer closer to the producer through education and understanding.”

The Galloway family posts several videos each week that show the inner workings of their ranch, which is located 10 miles south of Gillette. They even use drones to provide aerial and panoramic views. In their first month of production, their videos garnered more than 30,000 views. Two months later, they were up to 125,000 views.

“The ranch is a business. That’s the bottom line,” Mike tells his YouTube subscribers. “It’s here to help support my family, raise my kids, send them to college, and – hopefully – maybe one of them will want to do the same thing I am, just a million times better.”

If one of the Galloway children does follow in their father’s footsteps, it is hard to say what new technology and business strategies would be available to them. One thing is certain – the opportunity to utilize progressing technology and share best practices in the ranching world – and across all industries – will continue to grow. Businesses that learn to innovate using new technologies will likely thrive into the future.