The agriculture industry has become increasingly dependent on data. Tractors and farming equipment are now essentially computers on wheels that collect tons of data about soil, crops, and machinery. The fact that John Deere now employs more engineers in software rather than mechanical illustrates this point further. They are doing this so that they can gather data from their machines and use that data to improve farming practices. What is the best way to manage all this data? Data management can be a challenge, especially when you must be out in the field or in the shop. Take advantage of your data by following these steps.

Who’s Using Your Data?
Four Vs of Big Data
Use your Data
Conclusion

Who’s Using Your Data?

Considering how your data will be used is the first step. In the same way, you should also consider who you will partner with. For a bank, for example, we’re going to find the most useful data related to profitability and efficiency. Your financial data helps us determine whether you are able to take on more debt, get a new loan, or purchase a new home.

An agronomist will also want access to all kinds of map data in order to understand your soil health, including pH, fertility, and moisture. Data may also be of interest to your employees, especially those who operate machinery. Equipment performance, yield, outputs, and overall efficiency will be important to them. Don’t forget to consider how you and your partners will use the data you collect. In some cases, it may be necessary to collect different data, or to interpret it in a different way. Your data collection process will be guided by knowing how and who will use it.

Four Vs of Big Data

If you do not understand how to read data, it is just numbers. It is critical to compare data year after year as well as to other operations. To put it another way, context is essential.

Benchmarking your data will help you uncover and address problems, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement, allowing you to understand it.

The Four Vs of Big Data will help you make the most of your data. These are volume, velocity, variety, and veracity. Using the Four Vs will help ensure your data is accurate and useful. Read a breakdown of the Four Vs here.

Use your Data

It would be a waste of time and money not to collect data using the equipment you’ve invested in. You probably have a lot on your plate, so using your data is easier than it seems. Here are some things to consider.

Analyze

The use of data goes beyond exporting it to a spreadsheet or writing down notes on paper. You may want to invest in software that helps interpret and organize your data depending on the size of your operation. Data collection and analytics can be integrated into one platform if you choose a company that offers both hardware and software. You should at least look for patterns in the data so you can set benchmarks. This will help you track and measure your improvements.

Crop consultants can also interpret the data that farmers provide them. The data you have might not be easy to analyze, but no matter what, you should have someone analyze it for you. There are many tools and resources available to you. If you need help determining the right path, you can speak to your crop insurance agent.

Make changes

It is possible to identify problems and then fix them using the data that you collect and interpret. Using your data to improve your operation will help you get the most out of your investment. Using the data, you might discover that certain sections of your field need more water than others. The soil nutrient density may be higher in certain parts, allowing you to adjust your fertilizer prescription and save money. Data analysis can be used to optimize your yields, saving you time and money as well.

Backup your data

The importance of backing up your data may seem obvious, but it can be easy to overlook. Losing all your data makes it hard to recognize patterns and set benchmarks. This can be as simple as printing out some of the files or just buying a backup hard drive to download your files to. You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t Forget About Privacy

Since consumers own more devices that collect personal data, data privacy has become a hot topic. Similar to Siri and Alexa, farm equipment has also been scrutinized for its ability to collect your data. It’s important for farmers to read the terms and conditions so they understand what’s being shared. Don’t forget that all the information you collect about your farm allows companies to gain insight into how you operate it. You also need to consider the equipment you use and the inputs you use. Sharing your data is not necessarily a bad thing, but make sure you understand how it is used by third parties other than you and your partners. Don’t share your data portal login information, and when sharing data, ensure it is “read-only”, which means other users cannot edit it.

Conclusion

You should treat your data like any other tool in your shed. When you use it effectively, your operation can run smoother, more efficiently, and more profitably. The information you collect doesn’t need to be analyzed every day. Identifying patterns and setting some benchmarks can make a real difference in your decision-making process.