TAKE ACTION. It’s important to have an objective when collecting data in the field. Some of Erin Hightower’s customers have compiled 20 years’ worth of data but haven’t taken the next step of utilizing it. “Examples of action plans may be variable rate of fertilizer or seed, timing decisions and mode of action changes,” Hightower says. Erin Hightower

Transform Complex Data into No-Till Solutions

Veteran agronomist teaches no-tillers how to collect, organize & use data to solve problems

Erin Hightower, an agronomist for John Deere dealer RDO Equipment who is based in Kennewick, Wash., often uses a sports analogy to illustrate the first step to successful data management

“The best teams start by having honest conversations with themselves about where they need to improve during the off-season,” she says. 

Data management starts with identifying the right farm management software for your operation. There’s no one-size-fits-all, but it’s advantageous to pick software that has growth potential, Hightower says. She likens the process to her own experience with financial software.

“I spend a little extra money for a really good personal financial software,” she says. “The reason I paid a little extra is because I’m choosing a software that continues to grow, one that’s always coming out with new features. It’s the same thing with farm management software. If it doesn’t grow with the times and the technology, then there will be an issue because we need a farm management software that will keep up.”

Hightower identifies a few basic prerequisites for a successful data management plan. First, make sure the data you’re compiling is in a format that allows you to easily obtain analytics. 

“Data is only valuable if it’s usable,” Hightower says. “I worked with a farmer who refused to have his data in one place because of his mistrust of cloud-based data. He used John Deere, FarmWorks and Precision Planting software. His harvest data was in one place, and his planting data was in another. He couldn’t…

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Noah Newman

Noah Newman started at Lessiter Media in March 2022 as Associate Editor for No-Till FarmerStrip-Till Farmer and Cover Crop Strategies. He previously worked in broadcast journalism as a sports anchor/reporter for television stations in central Illinois and most recently Jackson, Mississippi, where he was named the state’s sportscaster of the year by the National Sports Media Association. The Cleveland, Ohio, native looks forward to engaging with growers, learning extensively about their operations, and sharing impactful stories with the audience.

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