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Good data in equals good data out

Recently on social media, there were posts showing how a producer was able to mount his three iPads and multiple monitors inside his cab most efficiently. While that may seem a little excessive, it got me thinking of how common it is to have more than one display or tablet inside of a tractor or com­bine cab these days. We’ve got a John Deere monitor controlling the AutoSteer function of the tractor, Ag Leader display controlling the planter, and an iPad to check in on the other planter a couple fields over. That scenario is very real in today’s farming operations.

What is the point of all this tech­nology inside modern agriculture equipment? Data, data, data!

Today’s farmers are collecting mountains of data on everything from crop performance to ma­chinery efficiency to help them make decisions across their whole operations. This data can be used for fertility management, creating zones for variable-rate planting, helping to drive seed purchasing decisions, in-field trials and more. The list goes on and on.

Collecting data is the easy part. Turn on your precision equipment, and you are logging some sort of data. Managing that data and linking it all together in a way that makes sense is a whole other chal­lenge. Most precision companies have the capability of sending your data off to the cloud to be received remotely at your office computer. Some growers still use USB drives for removing data from their field computers. How you are gathering the data doesn’t matter. What mat­ters is what you do with that data once you have it collected.

Data files can be large and cumbersome to manage. To help put this data into a usable format, producers have access to software such as Summit or Sirrus from Proagrica, SMS from Ag Leader, My John Deere from John Deere, and FieldView from Climate, to name a few. The first decision producers must make is which software is right for their operation.

The saying “good data in equals good data out” could not be truer when a grower is using this infor­mation to make solid decisions on the farm. One common issue I run across when working with my growers is the inputting of infor­mation to their monitors. Naming your fields seems so simple but can often be overlooked. You know your fields by looking at them on a map, but not everyone does! Most displays utilize a grower/farm/field format. If you take a few minutes to input this information accurately, it can save you and your agronomist time on the backside when discuss­ing fields.

A major offense is not changing your grower/farm/field in the moni­tor, leaving a conglomerate of fields that were soybeans and another for corn. This makes a huge challenge for the agronomist and the grower alike when trying to filter these files to individual fields after the fact.

Another common mistake is entering or not entering hybrid and variety information in the cab when planting. Most producers would like to see how individual seed products performed across their operation. If you are taking the time to sit down and place a hybrid or variety for optimal performance on every acre, entering the individual seed product information is a must.

When reading as-applied planting data, it is useful to know whether the crop is corn or soybeans. But knowing the particular hybrid or variety is much more powerful when evaluating performance on your acres. I know you probably have a notebook where you’ve writ­ten this information, but too often those notations become victim to the great unknown. At that point we are giving our best guess on what took place in that field. Your field computer does a great job of organizing and storing this data if we help it along by recording infor­mation accurately.

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