Analyzing Analytics

Analyzing Analytics from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Keith Byerly

by Keith Byerly

As I watch these crops change color, and begin to show signs that the end of our growing season is near, I look forward. I look forward to harvest and the opportunities that it affords us on our operations. I talked a few weeks ago about the preparations that we need to undertake with our Yield Monitoring Systems to make sure that they are ready to go for harvest. My deeper point of that conversation was the importance of collecting that data in a historical term for better definition of production areas and input management going forward. But, it occurs to me that I neglected to talk about a major point in the data acquisition chain, and that is its relevance in analytics.

Field Analytics is the emerging buzz area of Precision Ag. It has existed for several years in many different forms and offerings, but never really gained a lot of momentum or a large following. And honestly, it’s because it is a challenging proposition to get correct. Getting inputs into the mix has always been a more daunting task than the output. Very simply put, it’s easy to get a harvest map. But a planting map, all of our fertilizer maps, a map of irrigation, herbicide application, insecticide and fungicide applications, plus fixed costs is a daunting task.

But the good news is that technology is making it easier every day. Better data transfer service makes it easier to get data from the cab to the office. Better software, like FieldReveal, makes it easier to get the data from the computer to the cloud. And, better API’s make it easier to get that data into the Field Analytic tool of our choice.

And all of this is good news for you the producer because these are all things that somebody else can take off of your plate for you. Now, you can focus on what these tools output for you. A map that breaks your field down into hundreds of areas where we can define profit and loss to a very local spot. And within this is the opportunity to become a better manager. You can study these maps to find areas where inputs are too high and too low. Or you can assign that task to a trusted advisor and continue to look deeper.

And herein lies my take home for the day. Field Analytics is about more than understanding your inputs and profitability in a single season. We need to begin to utilize this data and be honest with ourselves. There are areas of fields that need to be taken out of production because they are losing several hundred dollars per acre. There are areas to re-allocate those inputs to that will make profits go up for the year also. The data that we collect with our machines and displays all season long has a much greater value to your operation than just being a historical footnote. These data sets can be the definition you need in the conversation with a landlord, banker, or your grain merchandiser. You have everything at your disposal that you need to be in the driver’s seat of the decision-making process instead of just along for the ride. When it comes to what’s next on your operation, Field Analytics may just be the next tool we need to add to make ourselves more successful going forward.