Grainews Q&A

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Q: How can precision agriculture tools help manage farm data?

A: Precision agriculture involves ever-evolving technology in crop production and farm management. Within the last several years, there has been an influx of interest around utilizing different components of precision agriculture. 

The introduction of GPS to farm equipment has aided in the growth of precision agriculture by enabling growers to more accurately and efficiently track their data. In the agriculture industry, data is a priceless resource as it can help measure progress, including both successes and shortfalls. Managing farm data can be challenging and time consuming. As time is limited in our short and demanding growing season, programs that can assist in recording and managing data can be a great asset to a busy farm. 

Through precision agriculture tools such as weather tracking, variable rate applications, seeding and harvest data, zoned soil sampling methods or agronomy services, growers can gain knowledge about their land leading to improved management decisions. They can then fine-tune their decision making through the information obtained in the data that they collect. Along with a grower’s invaluable knowledge of how their land has performed historically, precision agriculture can assist in capitalizing on the best land on the farm and managing the less productive and/or troublesome areas of a field. 

Whether it be tracking rainfall or utilizing variable rate fertilizer to manage productivity zones, the data obtained can help guide the decision-making process. It can illustrate where success was quantifiable, but more importantly, how the success was achieved. 

Gathering, organizing and analyzing historical data can help growers choose what specific products have aided in their success, such as what fertilizer rates, application methods and timing have maximized yields, any significant changes in soil nutrient levels, and how weather patterns impacted their growing season. Managing the data collected can help growers make informed decisions to get the most out of each growing season. 

Amy Sayer, BSA, P. Ag, is an Echelon Regional Account Manager for Nutrien Ag Solutions in north central Saskatchewan. As featured in Grainews, April 01, 2019