When I was about 10 years old, I spent a lot of time in my dad’s shop on our farm. I remember wandering around the work bench and the shelves checking out all his stuff. Wrenches, drills, spare parts, wiring kits, motors, bolts, etc… From my perspective at the time, we could have built a spaceship with all the things he had in that shop. There I was with all these “expensive” and “important” tools and parts right in front of me… and I had no idea what most of them were supposed to do. It would have been nearly impossible for me to figure out on my own how to utilize most of these tools, no matter how great they were, without his knowledge, experience and leadership.
In today’s agriculture, there are a lot of high quality and experienced farmers sitting behind their desk, feeling just as inexperienced as I felt in Dad’s shop 25 years ago. All this data, but for what? They can see all the hardware, the maps, and the folders with data… They even remember the price-tag that came with them! They simply lack the experience to effectively use them, because no one has shown them how to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
There is a very broad spectrum of expertise among farmers when it comes to using these kinds of “tools”. Some producers are very tech-savvy, but need to figure out a better way to validate the decisions they are currently making with their precision ag system. Some have acquired quality grid samples on all their fields and have multiple years of yield data, but don’t quite know where to go from there. Others are half way in the middle; wondering how to make the planter talk to the combine, then how to interpret what the combine is telling them in order to make better decisions for the next season… Keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but no matter where you are at on the spectrum, it just takes a commitment to improve, a good systems approach, and experience.
If you are the type that wants to improve, and if you identify the right precision ag system; then there’s only one way to gain experience. You do it the same way I did when I was 10 on the end of that big blue hot water sprayer Dad had in the farrowing house (one of my least favorite tools in the world). Take that next step, commit to the process, and get started… It’s really not that bad once you start.
The precision ag tools we have at our fingertips today are amazing. They can help us compare nitrogen timing directly to yield results on a specific field over certain years. They can give us a guide as to what population to plant our seed, in what parts of a field, based on historical reports. They can tell us what herbicide has attributed to the best yields in our area, and which herbicides to avoid. They can even help us understand what inputs are the most important on every individual field we farm, so that we can make better financial decisions as commodity markets are ever-changing.
Our top producing clients have committed to a precision ag system, and are successfully using their data like a “tool” in order to make management decisions. Today, these decisions are based on so much more than visual reviews of yield maps and fertility reports, as we are able to evaluate every input and every cultural practice on every farm.
How does my corn on corn nitrogen efficiency rate against my peers?
How do I make better decisions on seed to avoid future train-wrecks?
What is my #1 limiting factor on each field?
Is it really worth building fertility to “Optimum” or “High” levels on all my farms?
The list goes on…
If you have access to any of these “tools”, and you haven’t figured out the best way to use them yet, I encourage you to reach out to your AgVenture Yield Specialist (AYS), and have that discussion. We at Legacy Ag, as well as others, are on their quick-dial to help (and you) with discussions like this. I assure you… you CAN use these tools to improve your bottom line. Make the commitment to get started and jump in. You won’t regret it!
Tyler Rees, CCA Legacy Ag Solutions.