Tools & data


The rise of decision agriculture

From hybrid selection to planter adjustments, farmers frequently make management decisions that impact their bottom line. As margins tighten due to low crop prices, the importance of good decision-making grows. To be successful, farmers need to use all of the tools at their disposal to make the best decisions in every part of their operation. The next horizon for precision agriculture lies in growers making informed decisions within the context of a growing season rather than at year’s end.

The farmers’ decision-making process is underway throughout the growing season as they observe what is happening in their fields. That’s why it’s important for maps and information to be accessible throughout the season on in-cab displays, smartphones and tablets. And, farmers don’t make decisions alone, which is why sharing with trusted advisors is also important.

Photo: Ag Leader
Photo: Ag Leader

Confident decision-making

The first step to confident decision-making is recognising there is monetary value and an environmental impact in every decision you make for your crop. Then, use today’s advanced precision technology to connect specific data points to create a strong basis of information supporting those decisions.

Using the right precision ag tools to build a foundation of accurate data is important because no good decision can be made using bad data.

The 4 fundamental components that support agronomic decision making are

  1. reliability
  2. availability
  3. usability

Not even the highest-powered tools will work if you don’t have reliable data.

Photo: Ag Leader
Photo: Ag Leader

A different way to farm

Today’s farmers are using data to make decisions. Cloud-based platform, Agfiniti, gives them access to their maps and other valuable information from any machine, anytime, anywhere. Growers may have many farm information management platforms to choose from, but AgFiniti is unique because it has the power to change the way your operation functions. AgFiniti doesn’t just allow you to store files and view maps, it also provides efficiencies by connecting machines across your entire operation. Farmers can easily access all the displays across their farms to check progress, share information or help troubleshoot issues. A manager of the farm has the ability to access on a smartphone or tablet what is happening in the cab of each machine in real-time.

Avoiding decision paralysis

The volume of data points collected on each farm throughout the year continues to increase. Reviewing all of that information can be overwhelming, and sometimes it leads to decision paralysis, which can happen when the data becomes a hindrance to clear decision-making. When decision paralysis hits, it’s important to pause and take the time to understand what the data is saying. Ag Leader recommends focusing on your personal comfort level and making small decisions that move the needle in the right direction. Growers who stop to listen to what the data is saying will discover opportunities to be more efficient, lower production costs and surpass yield barriers.

  • Photo: Ag Leader

    Photo: Ag Leader

Follow these 5 tips to minimise the chance that decision paralysis will strike when you’re reviewing information on your farm.

1. Think incrementally

Don’t try to revolutionise your farm all at once. Take small steps and consider the “5% rule,” which means to look for changes that improve one aspect of your operation by a 5% margin.

Focus on improving your position on the big 4

  1. seed
  2. chemical
  3. fertiliser
  4. machinery

2. Get it all in one place

With data, more consolidation is better. Combine as much as you can into one tool or platform.

3. Assemble the right team

Your agronomists, input providers and other team members – as well as the tools you use – are critical to success in overcoming potential decision paralysis. Work with an adviser or a brand that you trust.

4. Don’t look for a silver bullet

No hardware, app or software program will be perfect. The best tool or app is the one that you will use.

5. Stay purpose-driven

While the allure of the latest and greatest technology may be strong, it’s important to build your precision ag toolkit with a goal in mind. Choose a specific area of your operation that you want to improve by analysing your farm data. Then measure success based on your progress toward that goal.

Author: Chad Swindoll, Ag Leader precision agronomist