If you’re like the average farmer, you generate nearly 500,000 data points daily. That’s according to experts at the *International Data Corporation, who highlight how this enormous amount of data provides challenges and opportunities for farmers. If you’re intrigued by data and wonder how it can improve outcomes on your farm, here are a few ideas to consider.
Most of your peers are taking a stake in ag technology to make more reliable decisions, improve yield potential and reduce farm input costs. McKinsey recently reported that 61% of North American farmers already use or plan to adopt (in the next two years) at least one ag technology product. As technology for farmers continues to advance and evolve, you must view data as a resource that’s just as important to your business as a tractor, combine or bag of seed.
But, how exactly can precision ag data directly benefit your operation? Here are a few ways:
- Data increases profitability potential.
A survey conducted by Purdue University in 2020 reports that a majority of farmers making data-driven seeding rate decisions (72%), fertilizer decisions (81%) and drainage decisions (85%) report a positive yield impact. And, using precision ag data and technology for more prescriptive applications can help reduce the cost of your farm inputs.
- Data improves on-farm efficiency.
By the end of this decade, enhanced connectivity in agriculture could add more than $500 billion to the global gross domestic product (McKinsey). Ag technology and data enable farmers to do more with less, saving time, money and resources.
- Data supports faster, more reliable decisions.
Ag technology, including drones, satellite and aerial imagery, enables around-the-clock crop scouting opportunities to identify field issues faster than ever before. That data facilitates faster in-season management decisions to protect your yield potential.
- Data helps you spot trends.
Collecting data over time allows you to see trends in management decisions and production outcomes. Having a historical record of what worked and what didn’t improves decision-making each year and can help you identify new opportunities to tweak your management program.
- Data validates your production practices.
Consider your data a report card that helps to validate your season-long production decisions. This information can help support your investment decisions, and you can also leverage on-farm data to navigate financial discussions with your ag lenders. When you have data to support your cause and validate your operational decisions, lenders can feel more confident doing business with you. Sharing farm data with your ag lenders can strengthen relationships and helps you articulate your business goals.
- Data facilitates more sustainable land management.
Precision ag data can help you audit your current management practices to identify opportunities to implement more sustainable production practices. For example, there are modeling tools that can recommend the exact amount of nitrogen to apply to your fields based on weather conditions in your area, the hybrids you planted and other factors customized to your situation.
Now that we’ve highlighted how precision ag data can benefit your operation, let’s look at a few ways to turn data into action on the farm.
Choosing the right seed for your acres is a critical step in optimizing your productivity potential. You can use yield maps of your fields to match the best seed products based on specific agronomic conditions. For example, if you’ve collected data that shows a particular part of your field consistently has flooding issues, you may decide to plant a more moisture-tolerant hybrid on those acres. On the other hand, your data can help identify fields with high-yield potential. In those areas, you’ll want to push planting populations and choose more offensive-style hybrids to capitalize on top-end yield potential. Your data, including yield and soil maps, aerial imagery and historical records, can help guide a customized seeding plan for every field on your farm.
One-rate fertilizer applications were once the norm, but they’re becoming less popular thanks to precision ag technology. Some farmers are using variable-rate fertilizer applications to supplement only what every acre needs to maximize yield potential. As rising farm input costs tighten profitability margins, using precision technology and data is one way to optimize your investment dollars.
While variable-rate technology may be cost-prohibitive for smaller operations, farmers can still benefit by taking a zone approach to fertility management. That means cutting back on nutrient applications on low-productivity acres and applying more on high-yielding acres.
Much of the data you collect can help with overall farm management. For instance, weather data from soil sensors and on-farm weather stations can help guide your planting, crop protection application and harvest schedules. You can use your equipment’s technology data to remotely monitor machine performance and field progress from anywhere. That allows you to manage labor more effectively and optimize equipment performance. Precision ag data doesn’t only drive agronomic decisions; it also helps you make day-to-day operational decisions that affect your bottom line.
We know data is critical to farm success, but it’s not always easy to know which data is important and how to use it appropriately. Unless you are a master data analyst, the raw data you generate each season isn’t obviously useful. More than likely, you need an expert who can interpret that data and turn it into an action plan.
That’s where we can help. The GROWERS Guide™ is a service that helps you secure and make sense of your ag data. Our precision ag data experts analyze, consolidate and create reports using your data, so you can easily execute management decisions that will directly impact your bottom line.
With these simple steps, you can turn your data into actionable insights with the GROWERS Guide™:
- You work with the GROWERS Guide™ team to pull data from all of your sources.
- GROWERS’ Data Scientist will standardize the data, clean it, make reports, and store it in a data repository for you to access.
- The GROWERS Guide™ team will analyze your data to provide insights for more profitable decision-making.
Precision ag data can help you unlock your farm’s potential while reducing operational costs. In addition to collecting meaningful data, you’ll also need resources to help you interpret that data and turn it into valuable insights for managing your operation. If you’re interested in learning more about how GROWERS can help you make the most of your precision ag data, contact us.
*International Data Corporation