Making good farm decisions before ‘rolling the dice’

Author: | Date: 03 Jan 2019

Cam Nicholson
Nicon Rural Services consultant Cam Nicholson, who will address coming GRDC Farm Business Update events in WA, stresses that decision making is a skill that can be learnt and practised. Photo by GRDC.

Past negative experiences can have a major influence on future decisions, sometimes resulting in significant missed opportunities.

However, a structured approach to making complex and sometimes difficult decisions can help in making a good decision, according to Nicon Rural Services consultant Cam Nicholson.

Mr Nicholson will stress that decision making is a skill that can be learnt and practised when he addresses coming Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Farm Business Updates in Western Australia.

Designed to enhance grower and adviser knowledge of farm business issues, to help with effective planning and management, Updates will be held in Tambellup on February 12, Lake Grace on February 13 and Moora on February 14.

Mr Nicholson, of Geelong, Victoria, says that while some decisions are habitual, not requiring much thought, others appear more difficult due to a range of issues such as not knowing all the facts; there being many pros and cons to weigh up; severe consequences from making a wrong decision; or a strong emotional element.

“Yet we still need to make a decision, even if it is do nothing at all,” he said.

“At the Update events I will focus on providing background information and tools to assist growers and industry personnel to make better tactical or operational decisions.”

Mr Nicholson says decisions are influenced by our ‘head’ – the logical or orderly approach to analysing and solving a problem; the ‘heart’ – the emotional influence on decisions; and the ‘gut’ – the intuitive influence on a decision shaped by our experiences and knowledge.

“The more difficult or complex a decision is, the more we rely on experience or the gut to inform the decision,” he said.

“Our temperament also influences our decision making, and most growers have a temperament that naturally defaults to relying more on the gut and heart than the head.” (Mr Nicholson speaks about grower personality types in a GRDC podcast at

Other speakers at the 2019 WA GRDC Farm Business Update events include:

  • Saul Eslake, economist: Trade wars, Trump politics and Banking Royal Commissions – What’s the fall-out for agriculture? The economist’s view
  • RSM Australia personnel Jo Gilbert (Tambellup event); Cameron Taylor (Lake Grace event) and Keiran Sullivan (Moora event): Tax Tips – essential tax management strategies for grain growers
  • Advisers Rod Grieve, agricultural consultant (Tambellup event); Steve Curtin, ConsultAg, (Lake Grace event); and David Williams, BJW Agribusiness, (Moora event): Farming to Profit – Focusing on the drivers and breaking down the barriers to profit
  • Stephen Park, Pacer Legal: Labour arrangements forum – Are you compliant? What is at risk? What you need to do next. Session to include questions and answers with a grower case study
  • Susan Brumby, National Centre for Farmer Health: Sustaining farm family businesses – your health is critical.

Each of the GRDC Farm Business Updates in WA will be held from 9.25am to 4.25pm. To register or for more information, visit or, or contact event coordinator ORM on 03 5441 6176 or

Contact Details

For Interviews

Cam Nicholson, Nicon Rural Services
03 5258 3860 or 0417 311 098

Matt McCarthy, ORM
0407 344 264


Natalie Lee, GRDC Communications Manager – West
0427 189 827

GRDC Project code: ORM00017