At this time of the year, it’s easy to feel like yields are largely a function of weather - temperature and rainfall. Over the years in hundreds of grower meetings, I’ve heard that sentiment repeatedly. If you are inclined to think that way, think about this scenario.
We can all probably think of a product, service, or brand we feel biased towards. Then think about how you make decisions on your farming operation. Do you have any bias on how different fields respond to a certain seed, fertilizer, or crop protection product? Allowing your bias to persuade field decisions can be very costly and frustrating. Your knowledge of your own farm is invaluable. Using farm analytics can enhance your decision making by removing or challenging the bias with objective analysis.
You don’t have to look very hard to find chemical manufacturers’ advertisements claiming a significant positive yield response (15, 20, 25+ bu./ac) to using one of their fungicide products. There are many effective products on the market that provide good control and protection against fungal pathogens, but advertisement claims based on ‘average trial data’ aren’t guarantees for your fields. Three critical components (a host, favorable environment, and pathogen) must come together at the same time for a plant disease to thrive. These three components are commonly referred to as the Plant Disease Triangle. Management or alteration of just one of these components prevents or reduces disease severity.
For the most part, farmers will have made their input purchasing decisions before the soil is warm enough to begin planting. Those in-season decisions that still remain can be some of the most challenging to make. Not because they’re the most financially significant, but because there are so many factors present once the crop is planted (current weather, short and long-term forecast, crop condition, grain markets, fluctuating input prices, and an endless list of tasks to complete). All of these factors can have an influence, consciously or sub-consciously, on a grower’s ability to make an effective in-season decision.
Now is always a good time to start managing your farm decisions at a finer scale. If someone were to ask you if you know your cost of production, you’d likely have an idea. But, when I say it’s time to manage at a ‘finer scale,’ the question that precedes it is, “Do you know how much it costs you to raise a bushel of grain in each unique part of your field—that is—as your productivity changes across the field?”
"It's just putting data to work for you. You can drill down on which fields, and which parts of fields are most profitable, and which aren't. I think the more you help growers know their costs, the better managers they are." - Dan Frieberg
"It convinces growers to spread those nitrogen pounds out over the course of the season or minimally making more than one application, and they see improved efficiency. We're talking about less pounds of nitrogen to produce a bushel of corn, and we generally see higher yields at the same time. So, it becomes a win-win." - Mike Manning
"Data is valuable, but data in the hands of the right people with the right context is really, really valuable." - T.J. Masker
"Growers tell me they are frustrated with precision ag, they've invested in the technology. I tell them, 'You just want to put the pieces of the puzzle together to see exactly what the picture is.’ And they are relieved when Premier Crop can help."
- Katie McWhirter, Director of Training and Development
As a grower, you’ve most likely asked yourself, “How do I improve my operation’s performance?” Defining success is an important first step towards improving performance on your operation. However, the definition of success has evolved over time.