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For more than a decade now, no-tillers have been using precision ag and harvesting lots of data to use for making better farm-management decisions.
Even though there’s lots of data to pore over, it’s becoming more important to think more critically about the data streams we have coming in and understand their strengths and limitations.
Fortunately, technology keeps evolving and there are many new options for collecting data that will help us better define field variability and fine-tune decisions making.
In the beginning, no-tillers had yield-monitor data and grid sampling to develop maps showing the basic variability in fields. This helped no-tillers vastly improve their understanding of field variability and how to make better site-specific fertilizer recommendations.
These tools still work fairly well but are developing limitations in some cases. An example is the data lag, and averaging of mass going through the combine. Today’s combines are much larger and have tremendous capacity.
If you really pay attention to the flow rates of crop mass through the combine, you’ll notice the monitor reading will be averaged out across the field because — due to the machine’s capacity — it takes time for the crop to move through the machine.
This was really evident last year in highly variable fields during the drought. The monitor would overestimate yield when going through soils with low water-holding capacity, and underestimate yields on the borders of soils with higher water-holding capacity.
I guess the only way we could have improved the reading…