Farmer Perspective: Take Time to Get Data Right

data farmer planter

If you’re going to record data in the field, take a few moments to be sure it’s accurate. It’s worth the extra effort to know your data is correct, especially when you think about referring to it again later, years down the road. Getting your fundamental data entered properly for all of those things that we do every day as farmers is actually pretty simple.

At planting, make sure the right varieties are loaded into the monitor on each fill. If you have a yield monitor in the combine, odds are it’s going to record yield and make reports based on the info you enter at planting. That's how they work, right?

We split our planter in half a lot when we are planting corn. My nearly foolproof method for making sure I enter hybrids on the correct side of the planter is to simply grab a seed tag from each type. What goes in the left side of the planter goes in my left pocket. Right side, right pocket. Then when I get back in the cab I punch them in the 2630 and iPad correctly. Good to go - hybrid placement is good for the season!

Double check that you are sure you’re in the right field, digitally speaking, when seeding, applying fertilizer, harvesting, etc. Sure, I’ve flubbed this a few times, but I’ll usually catch it at some point. You can post-calibrate a lot of things later with software. For example, this spring I fat fingered the wrong field and started planting. I figured this out eventually because my GPS line for the South end row took me off course - I had it pulled up for another field. Knowing I could post-calibrate later, I went ahead and planted this small field under the wrong name. Later, I went into Apex and moved it to the right location. So even if you screw up on something small the first time around, you can go back and fix it, just don't forget to go back to it! 

And at the end of the season please calibrate that combine! I’m kind of a stickler for this, and I probably do it at least once a day via the grain cart scales. I bought a large LED readout for the grain cart that I can see from the combine. Now, if nobody is in the cart, I don’t need to climb in and out of the combine and tractor twice just to check one weight. Even if I don’t have to make an adjustment to my calibration, I just feel better knowing it’s right. I've heard there is tech that allows you to get the scale weight on a mobile device, so your grain cart is talking to your device in the combine.

Once we empty our bins and all our crop is delivered, I’ll go back and pull up my yield monitor harvest reports and compare the totals for each crop to what all scale tickets combined say we delivered. I’m satisfied if those figures are within 3 percent of each other, but I can usually do better than that.

The moral of this story is: If you want to make good decisions you need good data to pull from. It doesn’t take much time at all to ensure you’ve got this right. There is a lot more to precision farming than just making a neat map to look at. You have to be able to use it. 

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The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.