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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.

MyPrime goes primetime in 2015

Prime Meridian – “Your Home for Precision Ag Data.” 

Providing an independent and secure home for growers’ data has been the mantra of Prime Meridian from day one.

Well, in 2015 the growers and retailers served by Prime Meridian are getting a brand NEW HOME.  Its called MyPrime and its built in the cloud so you can take it anywhere you go. Whether its a pickup truck or a spreader truck – your information is there with you.

In simplest terms, MyPrime is your very own personal dashboard that allows you to do the business of precision at both the farm and retail level.  One of the central features that is unique about MyPrime is that it gives a grower his very own precision safe deposit box where he can store his original precision data.

Ready for Primetime in 2015The precision safe deposit box is important because with MyPrime a grower can effectively share data with other members of his Precision Ag team (fertilizer dealers, seed dealers, crop insurance agents, agronomists) without ever giving away or letting go of his original data.  Its sort of like making a copy of the deed to your land but never giving away the original.  That’s just one of the things that makes MyPrime so attractive to growers.

For retailers, MyPrime takes precision services into the 21st century with a customizable and brandable online store. Retailers can offer their traditional in-house precision services like soil sampling and yield mapping. Plus they now have access to advanced services like variable-rate irrigation and imagery – all through MyPrime’s single dashboard digital storefront.

Think of MyPrime sort of like a precision Amazon.com.  Amazon may source some of its items from its own warehouses and other items from third-party vendors.  That’s similar to what MyPrime does. It allows retailers to incorporate existing services into their online store, but it also allows them to offer a more complete portfolio of precision products without having to reinvent the wheel or adding additional overhead.

Streamlining the deployment of new precision services is also one of the key reasons retailers are signing up for MyPrime. One example of added efficiency is the digital scouting program ScoutPro, which can now be synchronized with MyPrime so that all a grower’s fields are automatically added to his ScoutPro account.  Plus, all his digital Scout Pro reports are directed right to a grower’s MyPrime safe deposit box.  This is just one example of many integrations that will help simplify deployment of precision technology both at the retail and farm level.

Finally, MyPrime is unique because it is more of a precision “social” program than it is a GIS or glorified version of Dropbox.  MyPrime connects people.  It is a precision bridge that provides a common platform for all those people that serve a grower with precision services.  It connects retailers, agronomists, soil samplers, applicators and, most importantly, growers through a common online portal.

Until now there has not been a common platform that allows the transparency of what takes place at the retail level and exposes it to the grower.  It allows everyone to be on the same page singing from the same hymn book.

To discover more about how to get your business or farm on MyPrime in 2015 contact Justin Ogle at Prime Meridian at 417-667-4471 or by email at: justin@primemeridiandata.com.

Start building your precision services and your precision team in 2015 with MyPrime. Complementary 45-day trial subscriptions are available upon request.

A Season to Remember

Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year.

God Bless.

That’s our simple message to all our customers, growers and friends.  You are all part of our extended Prime Meridian family and we want to thank you for your business but most of all for your friendship and trust in us.

The year of 2014 was not only a great year for Prime Meridian but I’m hoping it was for many of you as well.  In many places it was a record harvest as corn yields notched personal bests for many growers. Just one of the reasons 2014 will be a fond memory as we head into 2015.

Of course, 2014 had its sobering moments as well with the high commodity prices of the past few years falling back to earth.  But as they say – that’s farming! Farmers adapt. They innovate. They persevere.

Agriculture is unique.  The Good Lord every year gives us a Mulligan – another opportunity. Another chance.

At Prime we see every season as a chance to get better by learning from the one’s previous experience. That’s why its important that we as growers and agri-professionals need to answer the simple question of whether we’re farming for a season or a lifetime?  The answer is in our DNA. Always keep your eyes looking just a bit over the horizon.

Howard Buffet wrote a great book on this very subject.  Its called Forty Chances and its based on the premise that most farmers only get about 40 harvests in a lifetime. It challenges the reader of how you’re going to tackle life, your business and your legacy. This is a great book and a perfect last minute Christmas gift to give to others or even yourself.

So may the Lord bless you and your family this holiday season and we’ll see you over the horizon in the year 2015.

Merry Christmas from Prime Meridian

Making it Pay: Applying Aerial Imagery at the Ground Level

There is the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. But the question that many growers are asking is…what is the value of in-season aerial crop imagery?

Up until now the answer probably would have been – “not much”. Historically, many factors have diminished the value of “in-season” field portraits in the eyes of growers.   Either it wasn’t timely enough as some past services had turnaround times of over 2 weeks. Then, there was the issue of “grainy” images as the resolution on some “satellite” or even “flown” products was less than adequate. Then there was the issue of bang for your buck – in other words was the product worth it?  Probably not, if it didn’t arrive on time and/or even if it did it had the clarity of an out-of-focus eye-chart.

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All that being said there is another saying that says don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The fact is, there is tremendous value in timely, high-resolution aerial imagery that can have an immediate positive affect on a growing crop and future crop-year management decisions. And the good news for growers is today such services are much more timely and the technology has improved greatly.

Seeing the present value in this for its clients, Prime Meridian has teamed with Bill Stocks of Aerial Imagery Solutions of Chadwick, IL to add aerial imagery as an advanced agronomic service for its agri-retail partners and producers.

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The goal is to provide real “information” –  not just images back to agronomists and growers so that they still have time to “take action” while the crop can still benefit.

For example, in-season aerial imagery can address such issues as:

  • Nitrogen deficiency
  • Fertilizer and herbicide misapplication
  • Weed and insect infestations
  • Pivot irrigation equipment or sprinkler malfunctions

In addition to the “real-time” management benefits listed above, there is an agronomic and economic bonus that comes by taking a “rear-view mirror” management approach to the data. By comparing geo-referenced imagery data such as NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) to ground truth data like GPS yield, variety and population information there is a lot one can learn from a bird’s eye view.  Some of the types of post-harvest data analysis possibilities include: 

  • Correlation of image NDVI values to actual yield map values
  • Comparison of image NDVI values to actual nitrogen rates
  • Evaluating NDVI value differences between different varieties
  • Looking for correspondence between seeding population rates and NDVI values
  • Possible relationship between NDVI to actual field topo evaluation values
  • Comparison of soil EC readings to NDVI values

And the list goes on… As you can see from the above possibilities aerial imagery can produce more than just a “pretty picture”.  It is a real-time and rear-view mirror management tool that can yield real results when applied properly. To discover more about Prime Meridian’s new aerial imagery offerings or if you’re ready to schedule your “farm’s” portrait, contact GIS specialist Justin Ogle at 417-667-4471 or via email at justin@primemeridiandata.com.

Moving Beyond the Iron to Precision Data Services

AgLeaderYieldMonitorIron dealers were there at the beginning of precision agriculture. For many, the piece of precision hardware called the yield monitor started this whole technological revolution in agriculture. Today, it has become integrated into machine as just one of the hundreds of sensors that make up a modern combine.

Yield monitors, planter monitors, sprayer monitors all should be the “domain” of the iron dealer. Because of that fact, machinery dealers are now being faced with whether or not to be more than just a “seller of iron” when it comes to precision agriculture. A recent forum by Farm Machinery magazine at the Ag Connect conference in Kansas City took a look at where and how machinery dealers should position their businesses when it comes to the business of precision data services.

View the full article, “Data Management: Waking the ‘Sleeping Giant’ in Precision Farming,” which features an interview with Steve Cubbage of Prime Meridian, by clicking here.