The challenge with data is using it
by Thad Becker for the May Today's Farmer magazine.
Collecting data is a wonderful thing—we have used field data for years to improve our decision-making. Historically that data was collected and stored on a notepad kept in a shirt pocket or in a record book. These methods are still useful—as long as you take the time to collect and organize the data in a way that you can analyze it. As precision agriculture has advanced, you may have added machine-collected data to the mix. Precision tools automate the process of collecting data. And it brings us copious amounts of information to factor into crop management decisions. With today’s precision tools, you’ll easily catalog:
• planting data such as date, variety and population
• yield data
• fertilizer applications
• pesticide applications
The challenge is integrating this data with other information. Getting data from the monitor to a place where it can analyzed is the trick, especially if you have multiple brands of monitors. But now, as part of MFA’s Nutri-Track program, there is a website that can help—www.nutritrack.ag. On the web portal, machine-collected data can be viewed alongside the same information you are accustomed to receiving with the MFA’s grid soil sampling program including:
• soil nutrients such a phosphorus and potassium
• soil properties such as pH, CEC and organic matter
• fertilizer recommendations
• soil types
The Nutri-Track web portal also includes site-specific weather data including real-time radar, 10-day forecasts, and historic rainfall for each field. The historic rainfall section is customizable to see rain fall for different time periods, and includes a comparison from the previous year during the same time period.
From my perspective, the best part is that all of this information is kept organized in the proper field. No longer will you need multiple pieces of software to see your machine-collected data. To find a specific piece of information, you won’t need one hand on the computer and the other riffling through the reams of paper that have been printed off over the years. With the Nutri-Track portal, the search becomes a simple matter of opening up a field, scanning the list of available data, and clicking on the data you need.
To get involved in the Nutri-Track web portal, visit the MFA precision agronomist at your location. They will work with you to map your fields, bring your information into the software, and set you up with a login for the site. They can also help get you acquainted with all of the site’s features so you can hit the ground running.
The true power of all the data you collect is when you can reference it to make a more informed decision. You spend countless hours and dollars recording information every year, but unless it is easy to access, all too often it ends up on a shelf collecting dust or in a computer never to be accessed again.
See an instructional video on the benefits of nutritrack.ag by clicking HERE.