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The harvest checklist for collecting accurate yield data

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With harvest either in full swing or just around the corner for many, it never hurts to remind yourself of the steps you can take to prevent the beginning-of-harvest-technology-related headaches.

We’ve compiled a list to ensure you’re precision ag ready for harvest:

  • Ensure that previously collected data has been backed up onto an external storage device (USB/hard-drive). If your monitor has setup or configuration files, make sure those are safe as you may intend to use them in the future
  • When saving your data, you should follow specific naming structures that include the year and/or season and year so that you can easily locate that data later
  • Make sure that the software on your yield monitor is updated – often the dealer or service provider can help with this if needed.
  • Perform maintenance on your hardware – ensure cables are fully connected, check for damage to cables and monitors
  • Calibrate your yield monitor for each crop that you are harvesting to ensure the validity of the data – you may need to do this a few times throughout the season to adjust for high or low grain moisture. This will help you capture more accurate yield data which can then help you to better evaluate the performance of your program.
  • Check your settings – the lag time setting, header position setting, header cut width, and the distance travelled measurement all play key roles in measuring yield, so accuracy is key!
  • Start your equipment and check that there are no errors or alerts that may need your attention prior to harvest.

 

So you’ve collected the yield data, what next?

Quite often, crop management decisions end up getting dictated by old habits and environmental conditions, but with a range of data sources available at growers fingertips including yield data, it’s important that this information be considered to better understand the reasons behind the variability.

Yield data can reveal a comprehensive picture of variable conditions across a paddock, however getting the most out of it and interpreting the data can often be difficult.

Yield data can:

  • Highlight under-performing or loss-making areas, and allows for targeted improvements or other actions to increase efficiency
  • Identifty the most profitable areas, which can then be examined to find out what characteristics it has that other areas don’t
  • Provide a way of evaluating the effectiveness of agronomy changes or management, and understand how the different practices performed
  • Be viewed as a Replacement Map – replace the nutrients that have been removed to grow the crop
  • Enable you to make informed management decisions for the succeeding crop
  • Provide the basis for variable rate application

 

Here are 3 steps to help you get the most out of your yield data:

1. Upload and save your data

You’ve probably been collecting data for a number of years, but may have struggled to pull it all together and effectively utilise it to make informed decisions. For many growers, their yield data is sitting on USB sticks, data cards or just left in the monitor. A great place to start is by uploading and saving the into a platform.

Decipher’s Yield Data product allows you to easily upload, save and view yield data for multiple seasons from a wide range of yield monitors including John Deere, CNH Industrial, Ag Leader, CLAAS and others, into our easy-to-use platform.

 

 

2. Check the data for errors

In order to get a clear and accurate picture of what actually happened with your crop, you need clean and reliable yield data. Yield data straight off the monitor might be imperfect for a number of reasons such as your machinery not being properly calibrated, signal and grain flow delays, and start and end pass delays. Therefore, it’s important to remove as many of the errors in the data as possible before using it to make decisions.

Decipher’s Yield Cleaning service processes the inconsistent and patchy data, and smooths out the data points, creating accurate yield data and images that you can rely on.

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3. Analyse data

“A yield monitor is a great tool for collecting data and showing you what actually took place in field. The interpretation of the data is what will lead you to change management practices.”

– Grant Mangold

Armed with clean yield maps you can start to get a better understanding of what happened that season by comparing crop performance with your other data layers, enabling you to take the appropriate steps to improve and precisely target your variability.

With Decipher, you can easily store, overlay and merge all of your data in the one place, making it easy to visualise and analyse. By overlaying your yield data with biomass imagery, soil and plant sample results, management zones, and crop and nutrition plans, you can start to analyse trends, and identify and precisely address variability.

When analysing your yield maps, you should ask:

  • How did my nutrition program relate or compare to yield this year?
  • What parts of the paddock yielded the most/least? Why? What are the characteristics of those areas?
  • Did the in-season application, or different rates make a difference? Did I get a return on my investment?
  • How did this year compare to previous years? Are there any trends?
  • How did the variable rate applications perform?
  • Was the lime application justified? Was there a yield difference between normal and low pH levels?
  • How did my varieties perform across the farm, and how can I better place them next season?
  • What’s causing the variation?
  • How does the variation compare to peak season biomass imagery? If it correlates should I consider variable rate applications?
  • Based on the trends, is the variability likely to occur next year? How can I better manage this paddock?
  • What can I do to address the variability?

 

From here, you should identify trends and ground-truth these areas by scouting and sampling to better understand the reasons behind the variability.

Yield maps can be one of the best sources of data for defining management zones within a paddock. With Decipher, you can create management zones and prescription maps with clean yield data, allowing you to take the appropriate steps for a more precise application to target your variability.

To start getting the most out of your data, sign-up to Decipher Plus today and then purchase Yield Data and/or Yield Cleaning from Decipher’s Marketplace.

 

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