Author

Sally Krueger

Sally is a city kid with an ag degree. She has more than 13 years of experience sharing stories about why farming family businesses and rural communities matter. Sally has worked with some of the most recognizable brand names in agriculture, as well as a number of long-standing organizations advocating for farmers, ranchers and rural America. At FBN, Sally’s primarily role is developing compelling content and storytelling that helps farmers to become more independent and profitable, and the agriculture industry to become fairer and more transparent—that means putting Farmers First® every day. Sally is an eighth-generation Georgian; she was born and raised in Atlanta, and earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from Auburn University in 2006. She was also an NCAA student athlete on the Auburn Equestrian Team. She now resides in eastern Kansas, but considers herself to be only a novice Midwesterner.


Oct 03, 2019

by Sally Krueger

Our latest report on U.S. Seed Price Transparency shares some of the recent trends that we've observed in seed pricing based on information provided anonymously to FBN by our farmer-members. In the report, we analyzed: More than 33,000 seed price records Prices spanning 2010-2019 (with 99% of the records from 2015-2019) Prices for corn, soybeans, cotton and sorghum Prices from 41 states Prices from more than 6,000 products from more than 180 seed companies Here are a few trends we analyzed around seed prices:  Maximum Price Difference by State Based on our analysis, in-state price differences of more than $100/bag for corn and $40/bag for soybeans are common . The Most Expensive Seed Trait Technology by State The following maps show the most expensive trait packages by state for corn. In our analysis, trait packages needed to have data from at least 10 farmers to be included. The Most Expensive Seed Companies by State The following maps show the most expensive seed companies (by median price per bag) among the most popular seed companies among FBN members (with prices from at least 10 farmers) in each state. Download the report to see more maps for other crops, and read additional analyses on the price of seed per bushel of yield produced, typical seed price ranges by county and yearly seed price variations.  Beck’s is a trademark of Beck’s Hybrids. Agrigold is a registered trademark of AgReliant Genetics LLC. Asgrow, Channel, Dekalb, Deltapine, Fontanelle, Genuity, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, Roundup Ready 2 Yield, Stone, SmartStax and VT Double PRO are registered trademarks of Bayer AG or its affiliates. AcreMax, AcreMax TRIsect, AcreMax Xtra, AcreMax XTreme, Optimum, Phytogen and Pioneer are registered trademarks of Corteva Agriscience or their respective owners.


Sep 04, 2019

by Sally Krueger

At FBN , we believe that farmers deserve more transparency around data, pricing and genetic/parental lineage of seed, so you can manage risk at whatever level fits your farm best. That’s because transparency helps you make better-informed decisions, which ultimately can help you to increase your farm’s overall profitability.  With the launch of F2F Genetics Network seed, you don’t have to rely on the product development process of a multinational seed company. Instead, farmers like you have the opportunity to work directly with a network of breeders who are developing the next generation of top-performing hybrids and varieties. You can now help breeders to identify the right combination of genetics and traits for your farm.  When farmers and breeders are working more closely together, farmers can actually help drive new seed development . This means breeders then have access to anonymized, aggregated, real-world performance data they can use to develop new seed with a thorough understanding of micro-environments and agronomics.  Getting farmers closer to seed breeders matters, so we asked four farmers to tell us why it matters to them, in their own words.  Dennis Anderson, Alta Vista, Kansas “Today, it seems like seed has a lot of hands touching it, which just means we pay a higher price. Buying from FBN is a low-frills deal, but that's all right. I'm buying seed—I'm not buying trips and hats and coats. Knowing where my seed comes from is important. You can look at plots all day, and some products will come in one- or two-tenths of a bushel off of each other and their similar maturities, which each company measures a little differently anyway. Being closer to the breeder gives me more confidence that I know what I’m getting, and that it’s not just some relabelled product from another company.”  Zack Johnson, Lowry, Minnesota “So to me, being more closely connected to the breeder is definitely an advantage. It gives you a direct connection to communicate better about what you need. And you’ll get a real answer as to whether that’s something they can w ork on or not. I think it’s valuable to have access to as much info as you can about the seeds you’re looking to plant, so that you can make the best choices for your operation. I like knowing I have it when I need it.   I don’t trust all the yield data I get from seed companies. I don’t really trust anything that doesn’t come from my farm, because at least I know how it was managed and how it does on my ground. That’s part of what I like about FBN’s data—I don’t know exactly which farmers it came from, but I can search by region, soil type and other management options, and know that my data is coming from real-world farmers.” Eric Wappel, North Judson, Indiana “The closer I can get to the guys that are actually developing the hybrids the better. A lot of seed company reps just bring their book and talk about the hybrid. I want to know more about the parents of that hybrid, how they react in different situations and what other hybrids I may know came from that female and that male. I want to see if there’s a pattern to how they react to different weather and soils, and what their disease characteristics are. You can learn a lot from an inbred and a seed corn production field about the hybrid that you're going to be planting. So the more information, the closer to the breeder, the better.” John Heitkamp, New Bremen, Ohio “I don’t know a lot about the breeding industry, but if it could be closer to the farm, I’m all for it. There are so many people these products go through before they get to the farm—if we can eliminate a lot of that in-between, and help my return on investment, that's the approach I have to go with. When I went to Farmer2Farmer in Omaha, I got to actually talk to the head of seed for FBN, and he explained just the number of breeders that are actually out there, but they've had limited options for bringing their seed to market. Just hearing directly from people like that gave me the confidence to purchase F2F Genetics hybrids this year.”  Farmers like you are participating in accelerated seed innovation instead of just passively consuming what seed companies determine is best for your farm.  By bringing new and different genetics separately from trait technology, we have the opportunity to bring you F2F Genetics Network seed products at a lower cost. When you plant them, you and other farmers in the network are contributing anonymized product performance data that helps to create the industry’s only unbiased and transparent dataset on seed. 


Aug 30, 2019

by Sally Krueger

Randy Smith works with his two brothers on an operation that’s been in the family for 150 years. Together, they manage 630 acres of row crops, while running a 250-head dairy operation, as well as finishing steers and handling 2,500 custom finish hogs.     Sally Krueger, FBN : Why did you decide to check out conventional corn hybrids from the F2F Genetics Network this year? Randy Smith, Minnesota Farmer: Well, I used to always plant “the best of the best,” but I'm starting to realize that just because you spend a lot, doesn’t always mean you get a lot. This year, we decided that with dairy prices getting pretty tight, we needed to trim costs. A friend of mine told me FBN was coming out with a seed brand. It was affordable, and the yield results looked pretty good, so I decided to try two products. We also decided to go almost all conventional corn this year, just to give it a shot. That’s all we used to plant, so I know how to manage it. I’m impressed so far. My corn from F2F Genetics popped right out of the ground. We went through some tough conditions this season, but populations are right where they should be. It’s all about what’s right for your farm. SK: When you go to select seed, or try something new, what are you looking for in a corn hybrid?  RS: You know, the price of what I bought from F2F Genetics is less than half of the price of seed from some of the bigger name companies. So I’ve saved quite a bit of money there. I’m always skeptical, so we won’t know the real turnout until harvest. So after price, and yield, the biggest thing I’m looking for is stand, because nobody wants to be out there at harvest picking up downed corn. SK: I know you said you’ve planted conventional before. Can you tell me what your weed and pest management plan looks like? RS: For weed management, we use various products containing acetochlor and atrazine. I do that on the whole farm and it keeps it pretty clean. On my borders, and on a farm that has a ragweed problem, I use a mesotrione product. We’re mostly corn-on-corn, so we use bifenthrin to protect against insects. And with the cold winter we had, I’m hoping that will keep our insect pressure down a bit. I'm also planning on doing a double fungicide application. We’ve always planted conventional corn behind alfalfa, and I’ve never worried about a fungicide, because it was the first year in corn. But this year, we’re about 90 percent corn-after-corn, so we’re planning to add fungicide to the mix on all our conventional. SK: How closely do you pay attention to overall profitability versus yield? RS: Well, we need the yield to feed all the livestock, but it absolutely has to be profitable. If we can yield high enough and put it in with less money, that’s ideal. We run the numbers, and my brother [who handles the financial side of the operation] tells me where we can cut expenses. If we can get a similar return from a $100 bag of seed that we do a $300 bag of seed, that’s great.  When I first joined FBN , he grumbled a little about that expense. But then when I ordered the seed, we realized that the savings there alone had already paid for our membership. And honestly, we’ve saved a fair amount on the chemical side, too.  “F2F Genetics Network” branded seed products and other seed products are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed. Terms & Conditions are subject to change at anytime and without notice. See sales order form for additional terms and conditions.


Aug 30, 2019

by Sally Krueger

Eric Wappel is a third generation farmer in North Judson, Indiana. He, his brother and his father all handle the operation now, focusing mostly on corn, soybeans and mint. He is growing several conventional corn hybrids from the F2F Genetics Network for 2019. We talked to him about making this decision and what it’s been like for his operation during a challenging crop production year.    Sally Krueger, FBN : What are you looking for when you're selecting hybrids for your farm? Eric Wappel, Indiana Farmer: Well, I like to diversify the corn hybrids and plant a lot. I love seeing different types of corn grow. I think I'm at around 32 different hybrids this year. It's a little bit obnoxious sometimes. Every fall I say I'm only going to grow these three or four, but then come winter time, I'm ordering all different types. But you can't just do it all for fun. In the end, it's all about return on investment. So you’ve got to look at the price. There are certain seed companies just cost too much. I won't even look at them. Other ones, I'll try if they are a decent price, and take it to yield and see what happens. SK: Tell me how you balance the decision to plant traited corn and conventional corn hybrids on your farm.   EW: I try to plant as much conventional as I can manage. Most of the conventional corn ends up in the larger fields under irrigation. With irrigation, I'm probably gonna make a fungicide application trip anyway, making it a lot more cost effective to throw the insecticide pass in there, too. This usually happens about the same time as Western bean cutworm, which is our biggest pest. And some of the traited products don't even protect for that anyway. A lot of the double-stacked products are starting to miss them. I keep the traited products in our smaller fields that are harder to get the airplane on and probably won’t get a fungicide pass anyway.  SK: Do you approach fertility any differently with conventional corn than you do in your traited corn? EW: No. It’s still corn. The traits just protect the yield. So you just have to protect the yield in a different way. But fertility-wise, it's exactly the same. SK: What about your chemistry plan? Any differences there? EW: We rarely use glyphosate on corn. We grow glyphosate-tolerant soybeans, so we didn't want to have glyphosate after glyphosate and so on. What we’ve typically done on most acres is a one pass pre-emerge. But there are some trouble acres, our higher organic matter soils, where we come back with a post emergent spray prior to the corn crop reaching canopy. SK: What were you looking for in F2F Genetic Network hybrids on your farm? EW: I chose four maturities from the line up, after talking to the folks at Farmer2Farmer about the placement on them and what would work best for our area. They look good now. We’ll see what happens. SK: When you think about buying a new hybrid, how motivated are you by price? EW:  Well, to get corn on my farm, it's got to be priced right, because I'm not going to try something new if it's more expensive than what I'm currently using. Then, based on the cost of the other corn I'm buying, we're going to take the yield performance and figure out the return on investment versus traited products in the past. As long as we can protect the yield on the conventional, they almost always beat the return on investment for the traited products on our farm.  SK: Why would you tell another farmer in your area to try conventional corn, especially if they haven’t planted it in awhile? EW: Genetics absolutely create the yield. Traits protect it. And from my experience in my farm, every single test plot I've done, the more traits the corn has, the more yield drag there is in a non-insect environment. If you haven't planted conventional a long time, I would challenge you to try at least some acres. It might mean higher management, if you’re in a zone with high rootworm pressure, corn borer or Western bean cutworm. You do have to scout a little harder. If you’re going to plant your corn and go to the lake, you should probably plant the most traits you can. Just for peace of mind. But I think with a little bit more management, you can get a lot higher return. “F2F Genetics Network” branded seed products and other seed products are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed. Terms & Conditions are subject to change at anytime and without notice. See sales order form for additional terms and conditions.


Aug 29, 2019

by Sally Krueger

Matthew Swenson farms among the rolling hills of Postville, Iowa. His farm is in a rotation of one-third beans and two-thirds corn, and this was his first year planting conventional corn from F2F Genetics Network. We talked to him about making this switch to conventional.     Sally Krueger, FBN : What made you want to make the switch to growing conventional corn hybrids? Matthew Swenson, Iowa Farmer: The biggest reason I bought it was because of the price. I went from buying a $300 bag of traited corn, to a $99 bag of conventional corn, bringing my per acre seed cost down to about $30 an acre. That was our goal this year—to get our price per acre down as much as we could so that we could make a profit, based on the prices at the time we booked everything. SK: How has the first year gone with conventional corn so far? MS: Honestly, it looks as good as any crop we've ever grown. I mean, you can’t tell a difference. We did a pre-emergent chemical program on it, because we were worried about not being able to use glyphosate, and that has helped a lot.  SK: What were some of the specific considerations you looked at when you were selecting conventional corn hybrids to plant? MS: It was a pretty big stress honestly. I didn’t know what the yield checks should be for this farm. But, I talked to other farmers around the area that were growing conventional, and you know, they have no problem doing it. What really sold me on it was the opportunity to sell it at a premium—a possible additional 15-20 cents a bushel. Those markets have been a little harder to find, though. I’ve been working with a few companies, as well as some farmers who grind non-GMO corn for feed, so I think we're going to be able to market a fair amount as non-GMO. SK: When it comes to trying to decide about quality genetics and price, are you more motivated by yield, price, or both? MS: When I think about seed, I try to look at what kind of yields they say I can get, and then I look at what we will most likely get and compare the prices. You would think that a more expensive bag of corn would give you higher yields, but that’s all in a perfect world. We probably can't grow those perfect yields on this farm. So, our goal this year was to get our breakeven down and pick the best conventional to do that. SK: What did your chemical plan look like for conventional, compared to traited corn? MS: For the conventional corn, we ran a pre-emergent with our nitrogen, we tilled it and we got it planted, with a plan to spray again at 8 inches tall. I was a little stressed about not having the option to spray glyphosate over the top, but honestly, our fields are actually cleaner doing a pre-emergent program. Having weedy fields was my biggest concern, and we haven’t had a problem with that at all. SK: Some farmers have said they feel they need the traits to protect them from certain pests. What are your pest pressures like on this farm? MS: We're going to be on fourth year corn in some of our fields, so, yes, there is some concern. That’s why we put an insecticide down with the corn. As long as you have the right rate of insecticide out, there's nothing to worry about. And, I’ll add that we bought our insecticide through FBN , at one-third the price of the local co-op. SK: What would you tell a neighbor that was thinking about switching to conventional corn? MS: I’d show him my cost per acre and what I got per acre on yield. I mean, that's going to be the decision maker at the end of the year—what we actually get out of it. SK: You also planted some F2F Genetics Network soybean varieties this year? How have those done? MS: They honestly look better than any beans we've planted. I have high hopes for them at harvest. “F2F Genetics Network” branded seed products and other seed products are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed. Terms & Conditions are subject to change at anytime and without notice. See sales order form for additional terms and conditions.


Aug 27, 2019

by Sally Krueger

David Halsey is a farmer from Adrian, Michigan. His 700-acre farm includes 250 acres of hay, 350 acres of row crop and a cow-calf operation that raises feeder calves for the show industry. This year, Halsey decided to give conventional corn a shot on his farm for the first time. We talked to him about making this decision and what it’s been like for his operation during a challenging crop production year.    Sally Krueger, FBN: Tell me about how you decided to grow conventional corn this year? Farmer David Halsey: When I heard that FBN was coming out with a seed brand, I was intrigued. Seed was one of those things that was always a huge expense for me, and I did question whether I needed all those traits, but I wasn't familiar with conventional corn. So when you guys came out with a conventional option, I talked to my FBN rep, and he reassured me that raising conventional is not as scary as it sounds. So, I tried it, and this year I'm 100 percent FBN corn and bean seed. SK: Did you have to change your chemical plan for conventional corn?  DH: Yeah. Not spraying glyphosate was a big change. I had to apply more residuals, especially with my soybeans. It's critical to get multiple modes of action down. I tried to have at least three this year. You have to start clean, and in a 100 percent no-till operation with cover crops, it's hard to do that because you want it growing until you want it dead. But I will say, since I use cover crops, I don't have nearly the weed pressure. I guess, for me, the biggest change was making sure I had a really good burndown program and lots of residual. SK: How do calculate ROI for your farm? What does it take for you personally to determine where to start with your seed selection based on where your finish line has to be? DH: When I think about ROI, I look at my input cost and my labor cost, and I use that to determine what I have to get to break even, then I decide what I can and can’t do. And it just wasn't working out with the traited stuff. I mean, you might have to get 170 bushels (on corn) just to break even—that’s not going to happen on my farm.  On my farm, with its soil types, I'm never going to grow 250 or 300 bushel corn. If I can get 170 or 180 bushel corn, that's a good year for me. I have to base my seed decisions on my return on investment. Why would I want to spend $350 a bag for all these traits, especially if it's only going to yield 170 or 180 bushels. Why not raise a conventional seed? If it's within 10 bushels, for the lower cost, it's worth it for me to do it.  Price was a big factor. The conventional corn seed was a third of the cost of traited seed. Having a resource at FBN who could reassure me that we could do this and having the support on the chemical side was a big help.  SK: What would you suggest to a farmer in your area who is thinking about trying conventional corn, or going back to conventional on some acres? DH: I would say try it on a few acres. I keep my operation in a rotation, so I don’t have a lot of the worry about the bugs and rootworm and that type of thing. You just have to try it, because it will be different for every farm. Some people are corn-on-corn and may need traits to protect their yields. It's not as challenging to control the weeds as you might think. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to control pests. I guess I’ve been pleasantly surprised. So far, it’s easier than I thought it would be. SK: Do you think you'll keep growing conventional corn in the future? DH: Yes. My concerns were put to rest, and now I’m working to see what kinds of premium I can get for conventionals. That would make them even more lucrative to plant. SK: You’re also growing F2F Genetics soybeans this year… tell me about your experience growing these soybeans so far this year. DH: I planted all 2.5 maturity soybeans this year, and they are all the first-generation glyphosate-tolerant varieties from F2F. I plant on 30-inch rows with my corn planter, so I’m able to lower my populations. They emerged really well. Even though some of them went in kind of wet and the trenches didn't close the best, it looks like every seed germinated. They’ve still got some time, but they got off to a really great start. SK: What is your weed control plan like for these beans? DH: Like I mentioned earlier with corn, the residual is very important. The biggest change in my chem plan was adding more modes of action there. Previously, I used one, but now I do three modes of action. And, I was more adamant about starting clean. I beefed up my burndown program, so that I didn't have any escapes or any weeds out there when I started. We have a pretty prevalent mare’s tail issue in this area. If it gets going, it's hard to control. SK: Do you feel like you were limited on seed options before you started using the F2F Genetics Network ? DH: No, I think there have been a lot of options for buying seed, maybe too many. What has bothered me is the lack of transparency as to what’s actually in those bags. With different companies selling the same seed in different bags, under different names, it just seemed so dishonest to me. With FBN, I could get past the mystery of genetics and traits, and be just a few steps away from the breeder. So, I think there's a lot of options out there, the key is knowing what’s right for your farm and your ROI. That’s what we needed.  “F2F Genetics Network” branded seed products and other seed products are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed. Terms & Conditions are subject to change at anytime and without notice. See sales order form for additional terms and conditions.


Aug 15, 2019

by Sally Krueger

Buying the right seed is complicated. Every year, you have to choose from hundreds of seed hybrids and varieties. With so many seeds to choose from, how do you know if you’re getting the right seed.. with the right yield potential... for the right price? And you may not know it, but the exact same variety of seeds can be sold under multiple brand names at a completely different price. We believe you deserve complete transparency, because all of this can be the difference between profit and loss for your farm. That’s why we created FBN Seed Finder — so you can fi nd the best seeds for each of your fields. FBN Seed Finder is independent and unbiased, and shows you how seeds actually performed on more than 5,000 farms and across more than 36 million acres of real-world data in the FBN network. See what other farmers are paying for seed in your state, so you can maximize the return on your seed cost. You can filter performance by rotation, traits, region and soil type. And see how to optimize each seed by breaking out actual performance on factors like seeding rate, planting date, row spacing or nitrogen use. Best of all: the data comes from farmers like you so you can find the right seed for the right price for each field. You can turn the world into your plot trial with FBN Seed Finder.  Interested in putting FBN Seed Finder to work on your farm? Become an FBN member today.


Jul 16, 2019

by Sally Krueger

If you’re new to organic production, or are considering it, one of the biggest concerns you may have is around weed control. Without the use of herbicides, you may be wondering whether weed control is even possible. While it can take a bit more attention around management, weed control in organic systems is not only possible, but you can achieve a similar level of control as you can in conventional systems. The key is to create a plan and implement the right tools and practices at the right time. To learn more about controlling weeds in your organic row crops, check out this article from AgriSecure . 


Jul 02, 2019

by Sally Krueger

When Steve Merfeld heard FBN was investing in AgriSecure , he started to think about whether his 2,200-acre farm in Nashua, Iowa, should get into organic production. He presented the idea to two farmers he works with, and they agreed to investigate further. After meeting with AgriSecure and reflecting on their experiences with practices that are part of organic production, they decided to move forward and are in the process of transitioning some of their acres. They plan to continue transitioning additional fields into organic over time. While there were many factors that sold Merfeld and his partners on getting into organics, the key was recognizing the long-term consumer demand they could leverage to build security and sustainability on their operations . . .  Read the rest of Merfeld's story from AgriSecure here . 


Jun 24, 2019

by Sally Krueger

There are many use cases for satellite imagery in agriculture. Farmers commonly take various measurements from satellite imagery (e.g. red, green, blue, near-infrared) to calculate metrics/indices and help estimate crop health. Satellite imagery allows you to be an even better scout and problem solver, and this is a big time-saver. That's why satellite imagery is your field-scouting wingman! Satellite Imagery Gives You a Bird’s-Eye View Images for Every Field NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) is a popular vegetation index, but FBN provides EVI (Enhanced Vegetation Index) images . Both NDVI and EVI measure vegetation biomass by looking at the difference in light reflected in near-infrared (which healthy vegetation strongly reflects) and visible (which healthy vegetation absorbs) bands. However, EVI compensates for atmospheric distortions and distortions due to the ground cover below the canopy. In addition, EVI has higher sensitivity to dense vegetation. By reading the light spectrums of crop images, EVI provides an indication of the stage of crop growth and health. It is similar to NDVI satellite images, but includes image improvements that are not included in NDVI. What Types of Images Does  FBN  Use?  Satellite imagery is now accessible directly within FBN Maps and is included with FBN membership at no extra charge. Any member who has field boundaries drawn in FBN will receive satellite images. We display three types of images: Absolute Relative Raw The "Absolute" layer can be used to show how far along a crop is in its growth, to identify the variation of vegetative vigor within a field, and to compare a field’s vegetative growth against other fields on the operation. The "Relative" layer takes the range of EVI values from the Absolute layer and effectively amplifies the variation across a green to red color scale. This layer is used to identify the variation of vegetative growth within a single field. The "Raw" layer shows a raw image of the field on the date the image was taken. This layer can be used to identify clouds or shadows of clouds that might be showing up in the EVI layers. Are There Any Obstacles to Getting Pictures of Crops and Fields via Satellite Imagery?  No technology is perfect, but satellite imagery has advanced tremendously over the years, and the images are helpful for detecting problematic parts of your fields. Keep in mind it is… well, ...taking a picture from space. If clouds and other obstacles do block the satellite’s view of cropland, you should get an indication of that in your map view. It might appear as a grey patch, for example. That’s why reviewing multiple layers of imagery, and having several images at different stages of crop development, will provide the most useful imagery of activity in your fields. PRO TIP: When it’s scouting and fieldwork season, wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra set of hands, or eyes, to help you spot potential problem areas across your fields? Technical Specs for  FBN Satellite Imagery  New images are loaded every 5 to 7 days Members can access images going back 12 months The imagery has a 10-meter resolution WATCH: Types of Images and How to Access FBN Satellite Imagery (9 min video) How do I find EVI Satellite images in FBN ? EVI imagery is located in the FBN Maps section of My Operation. You can see satellite maps by using the “map types” drop-down menu located on the left of the screen, just above the map image and selecting "Satellite." Members can access new satellite images every few days from their online account or the FBN App, and images go back 12 months, so you can benchmark progress and see how fields compare, year over year.