Keeping accurate data records is important when making critical in-season and harvest decisions.
As you add new equipment and advanced technology to your operation, data can get messy, resulting in inaccuracies and information that may do more harm than good. And in the heat of a busy growing season, you may feel you don’t have time to spend making sure data are recorded accurately and filed using a common naming system.
Making time to double-check input accuracy and name files appropriately will pay off in the long run. Here are some tips to help ensure the value of your data throughout the season.
There are four in-season tips:
1. Maintain accurate application data. Once you get your data structured at the beginning of the season, ensure that you maintain that structure as you move from recording planting data to recording application data. When your application files are clean and complete, you can rely on them when making future decisions, knowing you have the right brands, products and rates recorded. As new technologies and chemistries are introduced, being diligent about recording applications will be even more critical for proper stewardship of those technologies.
If you hire a professional applicator, make sure that person keeps accurate records of the crop inputs applied and supplies them to you.
2. Quickly correct any inaccurate entries. Most of the time, you can modify information quite easily. As future ag technology tools are fed with data from monitors, tractors and combines, having accurate data will be key to capitalizing on data insights. In addition, cloud-based storage systems are enabling ways to fill in missing data across multiple places.
Check data inputs whenever you begin a new application or start working on a new field. Bad data in mean bad data out, so enter information when it’s fresh in your mind.
3. Involve your agronomist. Agronomists can help take your data and turn them into a usable form that provides insights about how you can get the most return on investment out of every acre. If you haven’t already, talk with your agronomist about how your data can best be stored to ensure data privacy and security.
4. Always back up your data and store them on another device. That could be a computer, thumb drive or a second hard drive. Remember, secure cloud storage is safer than a home computer hard drive. Use multiple channels to back up and store your data.
And here's one tip for harvest and postharvest season:
5. Calibrate and recalibrate combines often. It’s common practice to recalibrate when switching from harvesting corn to soybeans. However, it’s important to recalibrate between fields of the same crop, too. Historically, it’s been time-consuming to recalibrate. However, newer technologies have scales right in the grain hoppers that are reducing how much time this takes. If you want accurate yield data, you need accurate equipment. To be innovative next year, you need to have quality harvest data to identify areas where improvements can be made.
Accurate data is important for planning. Look at where ROI was achieved and where profits landed on every acre to help determine seed selection, fertility programs and in-season management for next season.
You have made a significant investment in your technology program. Take the time and care you would with any agronomic task to ensure your data are accurate and usable. It’s not a stretch to say that bad data can lead to bad decisions. Work with your agronomist and others who support your operation to ensure that your data are the best they can be. You’ll be grateful next spring.
Ullrich is an ag technology operations specialist with WinField United in northwest Minnesota. Contact her at [email protected].