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Record Keeping Part III

Ten Minute Tech

Will electronic data collection work for you?

Published on: October 18, 2012

We have been talking about collection of record keeping data. The previous discussion was centered around paper collection of data in the field. Farmers face several positives and negatives when trying to use paper to capture their data. For many years this was the only method available to farmers for in-field record keeping. However, over the past several years, as in-cab monitors have become more commonplace, farmers have looked to them for the purpose of record keeping.

The main reason for tasking these computers with keeping track of data is to simplify the process. Simplification mainly comes in the form of single data entry done in the field by the applicator. This certainly saves the time of double entry however, this means that all pertinent data must be in the monitor at the time of product application.

Variables such as products, product mixes, target pest and applicator identification need to be preprogrammed. Taking the time to identify and enter all these variables ahead of time can be a daunting task. Then in-season, when the best laid plans change, as they always do, getting the appropriate new data plugged in can add stress to an already stressful time. Generally, as a result, the data does not get put into the monitor correctly. You know the old saying garbage in equals garbage out.

Another huge advantage for using a monitor in the field to collect data is that it can be hooked to the internet and the data can show up live in the office. Even beyond this, the monitor can access a central database of products, pests and even real-time weather data. This is going to be a for-pay service that is offered by equipment manufacturers. This would help eliminate the need to pre-program as much data into the system. There will still be local data that you will need to enter but it would cut down immensely on the pre-planning required.

As a company, you should look at the positives and negatives of collection of data from the field via paper or electronics carefully and decide which one better fits your record keeping needs. Once you have decided that, you then need to develop a plan for organizing and reporting your collected information. The office component of your plan can often be more involved and challenging than getting the data from the field. We will look into your options for this task next time.