As a long-time statistical junkie when it comes to baseball, I remember as a youngster charting the annual batting averages and homerun totals of my favorite players in notebooks. (I guess baseball cards weren’t good enough for me).
While getting a head start on spring cleaning, I recently turned up a couple of these notebooks in my basement, dog-earned and faded from years in isolation. It was nostalgic flipping through the pages, but it also got me thinking about why I took the time back then to put pen to paper and chronicle such detailed data.
Perhaps I thought there would be some lasting value to recording statistics and they would someday prove useful. The same could be said for farmers who for years now have been encouraged to collect and store volumes of precision farming data with the hope that at some point, it’ going to pay off.
While data continues to collect dust for some, more farmers are trying to turn their compiled farm information into something more than “pretty pictures.” A multitude of service providers have data management solutions that promise profitability.
But one of the challenges for farmers to realize the return on investment in data management service is that a prescription is only as good as information that it’s based on. Talking with dealers who are delivering agronomic services to customers, they point to a “data disconnect” in that emphasis is often placed on why farmers should be collecting data, instead of how.
“Farmers can collect all they data they want, but if it’s not done properly and validated for accuracy, it’s junk,” says one Midwest precision dealer offering data management services. “This is a problem we see quite often and it can make it difficult to meet a customer’s expectations because nobody explained the importance of calibrating a yield monitor when they started collecting data 10 years ago.”
With more dealers adding agronomic services to their precision portfolios, untangling a web of disorganized data will come with the territory. But dealers can also leverage their hardware expertise to minimize the garbage in, garbage out scenarios when processing customer data.
As Devin Dubois, vice president of integrated solutions at Western Sales noted during his recent webinar with Precision Farming Dealer, dealers need to understand that nearly every agronomic decision customers make, is going to be carried out through a piece of farm equipment.