A New Year’s Resolution – Put Precision First!

New Year’s Resolutions.Precision First New Year's Resolutions

Yes, they are all paved with good intentions. Trouble is most of them don’t make it past the month of January.

The same could be said of most grower precision agriculture programs. Most either fall victim to the mood of Mother Nature or the mood of the grower themselves.  If its a good year with good prices then collecting things like yield data are considered worth doing because you can always show off the results to the guys down at the coffee shop. However, throw in a bit of adversity and many start abandoning their “good” precision habits, and data collection becomes nothing more than an afterthought.

To address this “binge diet” phenomena within the culture of precision agriculture Prime Meridian has developed a grower-based precision program called Precision First.  Think of it like your own personal precision trainer designed to get your farm’s precision program back in shape.

To illustrate just how badly “out of shape” most farms’ precision programs are you have to look no further than the struggles Monsanto ran into when they first introduced their FieldScripts program.  One of the things Monsanto asked their most “elite” set of growers being considered for the new program was for 3 years worth of basic yield data.  The reality was that many of their best growers could not even produce 3 years of data – good, bad or otherwise.

Many of those “elite” growers probably had latest combines decked out with yield monitoring and autosteer.  Half-million dollar combines and 20-plus years after the invention of the yield monitor and we still can’t come up with 3 consecutive years of yield maps! Yield maps are the kingpin of almost every precision program and yet growers still treat them as “extra credit” that’s just not worth doing.

Precision First is based on the premise that growers will never get past first base if they do not execute the fundamental tasks necessary to build their precision data portfolio.  Bottom line, they’ve got to collect data not just this year or maybe the next – it has to be EVERY YEAR – even if its a bad one.  Plus, it needs to be GOOD DATA – and that means fields are not named 1, 2 and 3 and corn varieties are not referred to as A, B and C!  If data is to be respected and have value then i’s must be dotted and t’s must be crossed.

Collection of yield and planting data should be required homework for every farmer on every field.  Precision monitors should be prepped with proper field names and seed varieties before ever going to the field in the spring or fall. Your planter and combine get pre-season checks before going to the field – why not your precision equipment?  That’s what Precision First does – it makes sure your precision homework is done and you’re ready to graduate to the next level to tackle things like variable-rate seeding and in-season nitrogen monitoring.

The true message of the Precision First program is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Precision First is your farm’s tape measure.  If you don’t have even the most basic data, you can’t even start to measure your farm’s performance.  Such performance may not have mattered when corn was $7.  Note to self – it matters twice as much when corn is $3.50 a bushel.

For more information about putting Precision First on your farm in 2015 contact Justin Ogle at 417-667-4471 or justin@primemeridiandata.com.  This is one New Year’s resolution that we can help you keep!  Put Precision First in 2015.