Accurate yield monitor data is the first step in showing customers the value of precision data management.

Jack Zemlicka, Technology Editor

The old adage, “garbage in, garbage out,” is a simple phrase used to describe the flawed collection and analysis of yield data that leads to flawed results.

At the recent Ag Leader dealer event in Iowa, precision technology consultant John McGuire noted that far too often, farmers store reams of recorded yield data on their shelves, because nobody has ever taken time to show them what to do with it.

But he says those volumes of data sit there for another reason as well.

“They’re worthless, because there is still a tremendous lack of understanding about how and why growers need to calibrate their yield monitors,” says McGuire, who owns Simplified Technology Services LLC in Toledo, Ohio.

Therein lies an entry point for farm equipment dealerships considering data management services to supplement precision farming product sales.

Helping customers develop a goal with their precision investment is a significant part of a precision farming dealer’s job, McGuire explains, and it starts with collecting good data with yield monitors.

“Dealers need to be the ones working with customers on set-up and calibration,” he says. “If we don’t start with good data, we’re all wasting our time.”

That message isn’t lost on Troy Strangstalien, precision farming specialist at Portland Implement Co. in Cashton, Wis.

The AGCO dealership began offering precision farming products to customers about two years ago and is considering adding data management service in the future.

“There aren’t a lot of businesses or individuals in our area offering it,” Strangstalien told Precision Farming Dealer at the Ag Leader event. “There are customers who see the value to it, but they just haven’t had the ability to use it. We understand that it all begins with the hardware.”

To eventually provide a data management service — and more importantly, show customers why they need it — Strangstalien says the dealership first has to make sure growers are collecting worthwhile data.

Troy Strangstalien, precision ag specialist at Portland Implement in Cashton, Wis., explains the importance of yield monitor calibration

This comes through yield calibration service the dealership offers as a way to start the conversation with customers about the value of precision data.

“Maybe customers are thinking they want to trade-in combines in a couple of years and they don’t want to invest the money in a newer yield monitor. But whether it’s brand new out of the box or 10 years old, it absolutely has to be calibrated correctly,” Strangstalien says. “That is the most crucial hour we are going to spend with a customer as far as data goes.”

Even if customers don’t express an interest in data analysis now, he says, getting them to at least have their yield monitors calibrated regularly will allow for accurate collection of results if and when they decide to use them in the future.

Three years of accurate yield data is a good starting point to track trends, Strangstalien notes, and it’s not going to pay for the dealership or customers to collect and analyze worthless information.

“If you don’t calibrate that yield monitor, you might as well not go through the steps to collect that yield data, because it’s junk data and not going to be accurate at all,” he says. “All that will lead to is inaccurate prescriptions and a waste of time and money for everyone.”