Where is the value in your farm data?

Where is the value in your farm data?
Jan 20, 2021

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Expert discusses how data generated from various precision ag equipment and technologies can benefit farmers

By Ryan Ridley

The modern farmer has no shortage of ag data, the challenge is figuring out what data is useful and how it can be used to increase efficiencies on the farm, which saves a grower time and money.

Attendees of the 2020 Farms.com Precision Agriculture Conference and Ag Technology Showcase tuned in to Felix Weber’s presentation to learn just that.

Weber is a Technical Agriculture Specialist with Ag Business & Crop, a provider of innovative product solutions for precision agriculture.

“The first data set that I want to talk about is elevation maps,” says Weber. “I think it’s a very important map to work with in precision farming.”

Weber explains that growers will find elevation maps useful when analyzing drainage maps, soil sample locations, production maps, test plots, seed bed preparation, erosion, crop protection and more.

When it comes to yield data, the quality of the data largely depends on how the combine monitors are calibrated. Weber notes the calibration of combines has become much easier in today’s time.

So, how can growers best use this data?

“Since yield data represents removal rate, this data is great to make soil sample maps. The data must be normalized to be able to compare from one year to the next,” explains Weber.

Growers can also find value in yield data for management zones, future scouting maps and the evaluation of practice and test plots.

Soil sampling allows growers to monitor their nutrient management plan.

Weber provides some best practices when taking soil samples:

  • Consistent depth
  • Collect enough samples to represent the area
  • Geo-reference soil sample locations

“If you have the same sample location GPS located, you can compare that data. Otherwise, you’re going to start to get into different soil types each year, making [the data] incomparable,” says Weber.

Growers can use this data to analyze and plan for the upcoming season, allowing them to optimize input costs.

“In comparison to how much money is spent on fertilizer I would say that doing a [complete] soil sample would be a good investment. The sample information is used to analyze crop differences between crop needs and availability in the soil,” he adds.

Weber goes on to discuss the value of other data sets including ‘as applied maps’, drone and satellite data, real-time N application, electronic conductivity mapping and gamma radiation in the below video.

Photo: agbusiness.ca

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