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Value of Data: Guest Blog from John McGuire

by Aug 5, 2011Value of Data

There are several SMS users that are realizing the value of data on their own operation or through their business, and I've asked some of these users to share their stories. These will be posted through a series of guest blogs that will be part of our Value of Data theme. Today, John McGuire shares some of the ways SMS software benefits his business and the value it brings.


John McGuire is a broadly skilled technology service provider.  His professional prowess is built on a strong educational foundation.John holds a Bachelors Degree in chemistry from Michigan State University.  He also attained a Masters of Arts in geography from Southern Illinois University.  His major area of study was focused on geographic information systems and remote sensing. 

Before John started his own company, Simplified Technology Services, he worked for Brookside Laboratories, Spatial Ag. Systems, Monsanto and Terra Industries.  He believes that hard work and a commitment to expanding his skills will continue to lead to professional success. Below is what John has to say about his use of SMS Software:

SMS is a powerful tool because it allows us to very easily organize and analyze our spatially referenced precision ag data.  Because of this, we have been able to keep track of our farmers’ data as well as several large research projects all with the SMS software. One of the most convenient features in SMS is the several categories with which to organize our data.  As you can see in Figure 1, we have used the Grower, Farm, Field, Year and Operation levels to keep track of our plot information. 

Figure 1.

We have been liberal using these categories beyond what each was designed to handle.  We have needed to do this because the data we are collecting is being tagged to the project coordinator and not necessarily to the farmer.  We are also using a project ID in place of the field name.  Although this may not be evident to you as you study Figure 1, the main idea is to recognize that you can use these layers of organization to best fit your needs. Some of the other tools in SMS that have been most helpful for us include the batch tool and analysis tool. The batch tools in SMS Advanced are especially effective. 

One tool we have used to our great advantage has been the import/export tools that have allowed us to very quickly transfer data in and out of our SMS projects. We have also used the analysis tools to look at some of the results from our plots. 

Again, by appropriately organizing our data we have been able to use the comparison tools to evaluate our plots by treatment and soil types.  SMS gives us the tools to explore our data quickly and thoroughly to determine if our treatments are efficacious between and among one another. Before you begin to use SMS for your own organizational needs, I encourage you to take the time and think through the kinds of information you are going to store and the results you will require.  With this in mind, you can organize your data appropriately and the SMS software's reporting tools and other software functionality become very powerful.

We are excited about the new tools and functionality that have come with each new version of the software.  We look forward to continuing to use SMS in the daily operation of our company as well as for managing our research projects. We appreciate John sharing his story with us. Keep checking back for my guest blogs regarding the Value of Data.