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Use your ag data like the 2002 Oakland A's

Use your ag data like the 2002 Oakland A's
Oct 17, 2022
By Denise Faguy
Assistant Editor, North American Content,

Data — Your Competitive Advantage

Climate FieldView’s Marvin Talsma, Product Manager, and Christina Prelax, Field Product Specialist, presented at the 2022 Risk Management Great Ontario Yield Tour in early September.

They began their presentation by sharing their goals which was to show farmers ways where data produced on the farm can provide value to the farmer.

Talsma made an analogy, based on the movie Moneyball. Back in the early 2000s, baseball teams either had lots of money like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Texas Rangers, or they had significantly less money like the Oakland A's baseball team.

Billy Beane was the general manager of the Oakland A’s and was tasked with trying to win as a low-budget team. Beane wondered how he could do this differently.

Data and stats have always been part of baseball, but he looked at it differently than most at that time. When choosing his team, he evaluated different data, such as: how many errors did a player make in a game?; how many hits did he get per nine innings at bat?; and did a player get multiple base hits?

Beane broke down the data and looked for those players that were solid or had certain strengths, but perhaps were not as well known--ie, not a star. He looked for players that could provide value for money.

At the Great Ontario Yield Tour, Talsma asked of the attendees at the presentation how many of them had every single acre of their farm producing high yields of either 75 bushels of soybeans or 200 bushels of corn?

He acknowledged that it does not happen that way. Every farmer has variability in their fields, whether it is soil type, or drainage, there is always variability in the field.

On the farm, producers need to try to use some of the information that data can provide to capitalize and turn negative numbers into positives, or turn positive numbers into higher positive numbers, to get a better return on investment and increase profitability.

“How can something like Climate FieldView help us do that?” Talsma asked.

He provided the example of tar spots. “Tar spots is a new disease to us; we're learning about it. We're learning if there are hybrid differences,” continued Talsma. He indicated that investigations are underway regarding the impact fungicides have on the disease.

Talsma suggested that some of the precision agriculture data coming from Climate FieldView showed up to a 400-bushel loss for those farm areas that did not apply fungicide in areas where tar spot later appeared.

“One of the things that I don't think we've determined yet is can we determine the progression of this disease using some tools like imagery, whether it's from a drone or satellite. Are we able to follow it and track it? I still think we're learning.”

He added: “There are growth models looking at how this disease spreads to determine if that can help us, but we're not quite there yet.”

However, he indicated that from a precision agriculture perspective using Climate FieldView, it is possible to determine whether spraying and fungicide will actually give a farmer a return on their investment.

Prelax shared that one of the things we can do in FieldView is take an image and turn it into an application script. The green on the demonstration screen indicated where the farmer should apply fungicide, and the red showed where they should not.

“What we can do when we have technology like this and we have our data—both our planting and our population data—but we also have our yield data [is impressive],” Prelax said.

Farmers can look at their data and see where their yield advantages are coming from.

Prelax and Talsma cautioned that the farmer still needs the years of experience in the field, and boots on the ground, to understand some of the data that comes in.

“Your knowledge of these fields is going to help you. This doesn’t replace everything that you've learned, but it does add another layer of information that can help.”

Watch the full presentation from the 2022 Great Ontario Yield Tour below.

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