Time to Harvest Your Data
Farming is full of checklists and tasks to do for the day, week, month or year. Feed the dog, clean the livestock buildings, clean up equipment before putting it away for the year, fix equipment you’re getting ready to use for the next season, and the list goes on. Among all of the other items, don’t forget to take some time to read in and analyze your information for the year into your precision ag desktop software. By analyzing your data and combining that information with your own knowledge of the field, you can learn a lot and, in turn, make some management decisions for the following year. Items that you may ask yourself as you look ahead to the next year may include the following:
Which products (i.e. seed, chemical, fertilizer) worked this year and which didn’t?
- Which will you use again next year?
- Does soil type make a difference?
Do you have areas that are consistently poor yielding? If so, why is that area different from other areas in the field?
- Is the soil type different?
- Is it a water drainage issue?
- Is it a fertility issue?
- Are nearby trees shading the crop too much?
- Do you need to fix that fence so the neighbor’s cows don’t get into your field again?
- Are you money ahead to seed that area down to grass and not plant that area at all?
What did you learn from your test plots?
- Did population make a difference?
- Did different rates of fertilizer make a difference?
- Did applying chemicals like fungicide make a difference?
- Is there any correlation between yield and soil sampling maps?
How much did the weather affect different areas of your field?
- Was there any flooding by the river bottom?
- Was there any lodging due to wind?
Once you have a good picture of what is going on in the field and how the yield was affected, you can then start looking at the costs for making changes and comparing that to your potential for increased income.