The ability to capture and share data has grown exponentially in recent years
By Diego Flammini
If farmers have good data, they can quantify what good practices look like.
That was part of Seth Crawford’s message to attendees during the 2020 Farms.com Virtual Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase.
Crawford is vice-president of AGCO’s Fuse Connected Services and Digital Customer Experience.
Using corn production as an example, Crawford highlighted the discrepancies between harvests.
“We know that from recent record winners it’s possible to get as much as 600 bushels per acre,” out of one bag of corn seed, he said.
In 2019, David Hula, a producer from Virginia, harvested 616 bu/ac on his farm to win the National Corn Yield Contest.
But when looking at United States Department of Agriculture figures, the average corn harvest in 2019 was 168 bu/ac.
“That’s a huge gap. How do we close that gap?” Crawford asked. “You don’t need every possible variable mapped out, but it is important to leverage the data you do have to improve your agronomic performance in the future.”
Growers can gain about 20 per cent of net farm income over the next few years if they manage data properly, Crawford said.
Focusing on making key improvements and putting insights to use are important to achieve that goal.
“Look at the data points you have and look at the ones you may want to enable with minimal effort or expense, and start leveraging the information you have so you have a continuous improvement process.”
Next, a grower should focus on the data he or she has and where they would like to make the biggest gains or savings.
“With data in your hand, you can consult key advisers for advice on what will make the greatest impact,” Crawford said. “And your advisers will be able to give you better information back because they’re talking about real facts.”
Automating as much as one can is another important step.
This helps ensure data is always up to date.
“The great thing about precision farming is you don’t need to have everything at once,” Crawford said. “You can add on bit by bit so you’re automating and collecting the relevant data and putting it back to use."