Is Automated Crop Reporting Ready for Prime Time?

The subject of Automated Crop Reporting (ACR) to report planted acres and yields to your crop insurance company using precision technology has a utopian sound to it.

John Deere and its affiliated crop insurance company are attempting to make this utopian dream a reality.  Other insurance companies are following suit.  One thing is for sure, there is plenty of buzz in the agricultural forums over the subject of Automated Crop Reporting (ACR).

There are plenty of questions surrounding this subject – the biggest of which may be whether or not ACR is ready for prime time.  For all the promises that the technology holds in this arena there are real obstacles to whether it can be successfully deployed on a mass scale.

The biggest mountain to overcome may at first glance seem to be the smallest – preparing precision hardware to collect the RIGHT data, in the RIGHT format, in the RIGHT way.  The honest truth is that most growers don’t know the RIGHT way to collect  data or simply where to start.  That is why the cornerstone of Prime Meridian’s data services is an inexpensive service called ‘Precision Prep‘ that prepares grower’s monitors before they go to the field with the correct grower, farm, field information along with GPS field boundaries and standardized variety and product names.

If ACR is to work It will require more rigid data collection standards within the industry and basic data setup programs like ‘Precision Prep‘ from precision service providers.  The other obvious mountain in the way is the issue of calibration.  The painful, unspoken truth is that most precision yield monitors are never calibrated properly if at all. If such precision records are to be accepted by crop insurance companies for proving baseline yields and ultimately for crop loss claims then monitor calibration will have to clearly documented and accuracies will have to be in the 97 percent accurate or better range.  We have a long way to go before that becomes the norm.

Working with your crop insurance company to implement ACR on your farm will mean you have some of your own mountains to climb in order for such adoption to be successful.  It is our view at Prime Meridian that professional precision agriculture services providers will be invaluable guides in order for ACR to become mainstream within the industry.

What do you think?