• Jun 06, 2017

Survey Details Farmers’ Data Management Views

A recent article on Farm Journal’s agprofessional.com website cited results from the Field Data Management Practices Grower Survey, conducted by Stratus Ag Research. The survey drew responses from 839 U.S. farmers (with operations of 1,000-plus acres) and 709 Canadian farmers. It showed some interesting attitudes about field management, agronomic practices and the collection, aggregation, analysis and ownership of individual farm data.
Here are a couple of highlights.
1. Less than half of U.S. farmers use their data.
Eighty-four percent of U.S. farmers who responded said they have equipment that captures big data from planting, harvesting or crop protection product applications. However, only 42 percent of them transfer this data to a field data management software program for further analysis. Unused data often stays on the equipment or is saved to an external device such as a USB flash drive.
Why does this happen? I believe it’s because no one has taken the time to show these farmers the true value of their data. How about you? Has your agronomist or ag retailer worked with you to extract your data, store it securely, analyze it and use it to make decisions?
There is tremendous value in the data you collect. But it needs to be used. If you’re not comfortable with technology, I urge you to reach out to your local trusted advisor and ask him or her to help you leverage the data you have. Using harvest data to determine fertility applications is a good place to start.
2. Farmers consider data specific to their farm more useful than aggregated data.
My guess is that these farmers were defining aggregated data as data from other farmers. I believe it’s a combination of both on-farm and trusted aggregated data — such as data from the Answer Plot® Program — that will deliver the most value.
Of course, you want to make sure you have good, calibrated, accurate data from the combine to help make decisions throughout the year. But when you start looking at management strategies for a particular hybrid, for example, that’s when Answer Plot® data can be very valuable. It can help you determine the optimal population at which to plant that hybrid, the optimal amount of nitrogen to apply and whether a fungicide application will be beneficial.
Winning combo
Working closely and collaboratively with a trusted advisor is one of the most important relationships in agriculture. If you’re not doing so already, use this relationship to get to where you need to be with both agronomics and technology. The farmer of the future is going to be more data-driven and data-dependent. Farmers who use a combination of quality, trusted data and the expertise of a trusted advisor who understands their operations and tech tools will be the ones who ultimately win.