Foundations of agronomy and geography are the starting place for data-driven decisions.
I believe data-driven decisions will power change in every aspect of crop production. Your data can be a valuable business asset that leads to greater profitability. Here are two reasons your data will lead to greater profitability:
- Yield limitations
There are some key foundational principles in using data to drive decisions in crop production that are worth reviewing. The first is centered on uniqueness. Just as we each have unique fingerprints and DNA, each part of every field is unique.
Your data is being collected with a device connected to a GPS receiver. Most of the software that reads the data files is a version of a geographic information system (GIS). The difference between this software and a database you might use for your livestock operation or some other aspect of your farming operation is the first word – geographic. Your data is stored and tied to a unique geographic place in the world. While there are other areas, geographically, that are very similar, none of those are exactly the same.
And since these areas are uniquely different it’s the reason a product works so well in one place, but not in another. And why an ideal rate of an input works within parts of your field, but not in another. Many times, the answer is as simple as “geography matters.” If you treat all your acres the same, you’ll lose out on efficiencies and profits. Our data has proven this time and time again.
The second principle is yield limitations which is best illustrated by the rain barrel. The rain barrel, with staves of varying heights, is a visual way to illustrate the real-world reality of what limits yield in any one place within a field. Nitrogen is limiting in the southeast corner of the field but not in the center. Population is limiting one place but not another.
The rain barrel concept is easy to talk about but challenging to put into practice. Our goal is to maximize return on every dollar invested. Ideally, we are adjusting every input to not only match the uniqueness of the geography but also to match the combination and limitations of the other staves in the rain barrel in each part of the field.
The irony of our leap forward in planter technology is that, in many cases, we now have more uniformly-spaced, nutrient-deficient plants than anyone would ever have imagined. A one-time investment in upgrading planters has been easier to justify than the continuous re-investment in fertility, especially on rented acres.
An appreciation for these two principles will lead you to collect as much geo-referenced data as possible. Your data is important an using a system like Premier Crop can help you dive deeper into understanding your yield limits in parts of your fields.