While new precision farming tools such as global positioning system (GPS) and guidance technology have recently gained much attention from growers, it’s the collection, storage and analysis of field data that may have the greatest impact on farming operations. That’s because the availability of accurate information for most businesses, including farming, can lead to better management and input decisions over the long term.
“The accurate collection and analysis of the data generated from precision farming technologies can be the most important part of the entire package,” says Kayla Reynolds, product marketing manager for John Deere Ag Management Solutions. “While guidance, GPS, variable rate application and other precision tools are important in the physical production of each year’s crop, it’s the use of field data over time that can really drive farm productivity and profitability into the future,” Reynolds adds.
Field, yield and soil maps, along with crop and input information and other data, can be collected easily and accurately with many of today’s precision farming systems. In many cases, much of this data can be aggregated and overlaid to help producers understand the dynamics of their fields and farming operations.
The documentation features of these systems make it convenient to tie in accurate data with guidance and other precision tools when conducting normal field operations from planting through harvest. It also allows the collection of information on weather and field conditions, hybrid/variety data, seeding rates, product and operator information and much more. For some producers this information-intensive management provides the missing link in what technology offers in precision farming.
The GreenStar™ system from John Deere with its Apex desktop software, for example, is a popular precision farming program. This system allows producers to collect, store and retrieve a wide variety of farm data from numerous operations into one easy-to-use program.
Some of the most common documentation features include:
• Yield mapping
• Field boundaries
• Planting information
• Field application and operational documentation
• Harvest documentation
For producers involved in growing identity-preserved crops or crops that need detailed documentation of inputs, or who are looking for that competitive edge, these precision farming technologies can be very useful tools.
“Access to highly detailed agronomic and production information for each individual field can help growers more fully utilize the capabilities of this technology,” adds Reynolds from John Deere. “It provides the intelligence behind the technology that helps growers further optimize the productivity and profitability of each field.”