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The Decision Blind Spot

by Sep 29, 2017Value of Data, Yield Monitoring

Have you ever looked over your shoulder while driving and started to change lanes to suddenly hear a horn blaring from a neighboring vehicle? You’ve experienced the infamous “blind spot.” The blind spot is an area that blocks the drivers field of view so that what may be there cannot be seen.

Farm information may contain a decision blind spot if not managed and understood properly.

Many producers desire to use yield to evaluate various management practices such as tillage, chemical applications, seed treatments, hybrids, or row spacing. High-resolution information is critical as we explore treatments and practices in spatially variable environments such as your fields. By spatially variable we mean that whatever we are interested in, such as yield, changes as we travel across the field (through space). This is a concept that all farmers understand and is the reason we employ things like grid or zone sampling, zone management for fertility or seeding, and using yield monitors. It’s no big secret that every field is unique. Our goal at Ag Leader is to provide tools to shine a spotlight on the variability and help you invest resources as wisely as possible. We manage our investment portfolios in this way, why not our farms? You the farmer are in control of how you invest the big three – seed, crop protection, and fertilizer.

Let’s look at one example to illustrate decision blind spot:

Farmer Bob has a field of soybeans. He has a yield monitor but doesn’t calibrate it. (No one does that, right?) The field averaged 57 bushels per acre according to the display. Farmer Bob knows the yield monitor may not be accurate but thinks he can use the relative differences in the maps to make decisions. Let’s look closer.

The images below represent yield from the same field. The averages for both yield maps are very close. The map on the right is information after the system was calibrated. If Farmer Bob’s area of interest is where the black arrow points, which map should he use to base his decision off of? One map is spatially inaccurate. If the trial involved a foliar fertilizer application that costs $16 per acre and the data is inaccurate by a factor of 3-5% (not uncommon at all), will Farmer Bob make the right decision on what to do next year?

How much can the decision blind spot cost you? Check out the table below. Eliminate the decision blind spot on your farm by properly calibrating your yield monitor.

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