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Working Under Pressure

Ten Minute Tech

Data, calibration, takes a backseat when it is time to work

Published on: July 15, 2013

As I was driving by a field this morning I noticed that a client of mine was finishing up his wheat harvest. That's when I realized that we had discussed meeting prior to harvest to calibrate his monitor.

Somewhere over the past couple weeks of extended rain delays and the fear that kernels were sprouting or falling from the head, he must have decided that the data he could get from the monitor was going to take a backseat to finishing harvest. 

I cannot blame him because with rain in the forecast for Tuesday he was under the gun to get the crop out of the field. There is also the fact that this is his first season with the monitor, so he has had limited exposure to the data and the value that can be created from its analysis.

Without the experience of knowing what can be done with the data, it is hard for him to justify the hour or so it would take to calibrate the device.

Even so, from my perspective it is frustrating.

I am frustrated because the wheat has been covering those acres for the past eleven months and those acres will not see another crop harvest until soybeans come off in fifteen months, give or take. So we have given up over a year of learning on those acres.

Tough times ahead?

A few years ago that may have not been as big of a deal as it is today. If you listen to the agricultural economists they are saying there are extremely tough times ahead. This situation requires acceleration in management efficiency, and accurate data is the foundation.

RELATED: Reasons for Yield Monitor Calibration

I am hoping the wheat data will not be a total loss without calibration. With any luck we will still be able to pick out some of the extreme differences caused by soil type and water. These patterns will be incorporated into our soil management plan. However, I do not expect to be able to accurately estimate the number of bushel change from high to low yields.  All we will be able to infer is that one area was high yielding and one area was low yielding.

The moral of the story is we both need to do a better job of being prepared. That starts with communication. Had I known his plan for harvest I would have made myself available to help. And I need to communicate to him the imperative need for calibration.