Value of Data
As the use of technology continues to increase in agriculture, the fundamentals of growing food for expanding populations do not change. Similarly, the fundamental question of why you use technology on your farm continues to be essential. This is a simple question with a variety of answers. You may answer, “so I can save on seed and chemical costs,” while others say, “I want to be able to do a better job planting,” and still others might say, “I want the planter tractor to guide itself, putting seed on the fertilizer strip.”
Saving costs (with technologies such as Autoswath) and accurate placement of products (with technologies such as ParaDyme, OnTrac2, and the Ag Leader® Integra display) are practices that allow you to see immediate benefits. However, have you ever wanted this technology to help you make decisions even when the machinery is not in operation? Have you ever wanted to do more than save costs? Do you want to save costs and increase production with this technology? Using software to make specific management changes on your operation is the beginning.
Dr. Matt Darr, Assistant Professor from Iowa State University, recently gave a presentation showing that the average Iowa corn grower will save $.18/bu by adopting autosteer and autoswath functionality. These are savings that you want to have. He continued to communicate that management decisions grounded in knowledge from historic data will increase production, adding income to the savings already seen. This potential for increased yield beyond the savings is virtually limitless. This increased yield is based on decisions where the data shows a problem that you can address. For example, on my farm it is common for us to identify drainage problems that can increase corn yields by 40 bu/ac on 20% of the field. In this example, the return was $.27 bushel for this management decision. Add this increased income to the savings from technology, and now the technology is working inside and outside of the cab.
The examples of how data has shown value by increasing yields are virtually endless. Many examples are very specific to a location, as not everyone has the same soil, weather, crops, fields or management practices. What we do have in common is all of our farming operations have a weak link. We believe that your data (or your report card) is the best source of identifying the weak links in your operation. We are going to begin to regularly post examples of how analyzing the data in software has increased yield, in addition to the average savings of $.18/bu. for guidance and autoswath functions in the field. We hope these varied examples will help inspire you to continue the journey of understanding how data has tremendous potential to increase yields and profit on your operation.