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Data Provides Insights Toward Improvement


Using data effectively with Brad Matheson

Collecting and using field, yield and soil data is the most effective way to systematically discover and correct yield-limiting conditions.

“Information farming” and “data farming” have become popular buzzwords as science and technology help farmers gather greater understanding of crop production and the myriad of variables that impact the crop’s final output.

Harvesting Combine in a Wheat Field

Crop consultants and agronomists agree yields can be affected by roughly 70 or more variables, and to concentrate on only one at a time would take years to make significant changes. Today’s data farming allows a systematic approach to managing farms by zones of high, average or lower productivity. Once those categories have been set, growers and their crop advisors can begin to diagnose what problems might be affecting yield in a particular zone – is it a soil test issue, is it a drainage issue, a pest issue or something else, to define what limiting factors exist. Only after diagnosing the limiting factor can the problem be solved.

In each step of the process, from preparation for planting and fertilizer application to crop emergence, growth, reproduction and harvest, information collected empowers farmers to systematically discover yield-limiting conditions so that they might take action to correct them.

Information from soil samples, fertilizer application and planter logs, over-flight imagery by aircraft, satellite, or camera-equipped drones, along with yield monitors on harvesters can all be useful, but information by itself is just “data.” To make sense of that data is where your Southern States representative and the Southern States Agronomy Technology team can help. With tools and expertise, they will help you take a thorough and systematic look at the season and its ultimate result – profitable yield. In addition to personal, one-on-one assistance, we also offer educational materials to help our customers better understand how to effectively use data. 9Ask your Southern States agronomy representative for more information.

Yield variations, in a sense, provide a report card on the effective use of soils, nutrients, precipitation, seed and other management practices. In addition, by benchmarking inputs and production data with yield records over the years, growers can compare results to improve performance the following season.

Southern States Cooperative offers a number of tools and expertise to help you make better decisions in your data farming, such as the Discovery, Evaluation and Analysis programs. Each program helps growers analyze their field data to discover untapped yield potential, and provides a look at potential production changes that could improve results. Each program provides in-season site visits by trained crop advisors, a specific number of satellite images, and a post season evaluation or “report card” of the year’s production cycle. In addition, the Analysis Program allows benchmarking of a season’s records to compare year-over-year progress, a handy tool for improving next season’s performance.

For more information on which of the programs would fit your individual farming operation, see your local Southern States professional.

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