The Do’s And Don’ts Of Precision

Agricultural history is filled with stories about individual innovations, framers whose tinkering resulted in successful new products to improve production. How will historians capture the innovation and development of precision agriculture? It’s clear to many that doing precision “on your own” is a likely formula for failure.

Little did Ringo and the Beatles realize that their popular ballad could be the rallying cry for precision agriculture. But “getting the right help” is necessary for many to implement effectively the new technologies available for crop production.

There is a whole new vocation springing up across the countryside, and its practitioners are a gutsy group of entrepreneurs, committed to helping farmers get started in precision. Some call themselves integrators, others consultants, their specialty is to bring the tools of precision farming into the mainstream of production agriculture. Be sure to visit www.precisionag.com for the names and addresses of these precision integrators.

Our Precision Harvest ’97 travels took us to several of these integrators. We asked one company, Northwest Precision Ag Inc. of Blackfoot, Idaho, to lend their “help” in suggesting how to get started in precision farming. Company President Richard Johnson, Roy Chiappini and Kevan Hillyard shared their views. If their do’s and don’ts seem a little slated in favor of getting help from a precision integrator, verses another agribusiness source, well we can’t blame them for that. It’s what they do best!

The Do’s

  1. Take the time to develop a precision plan with goals that mesh with other business plans on the farm.
  2. Design your entry into precision as if it were a research project. Do research that helps you learn more about your crop production potential.
  3. Learn from the mistakes of others. Use resources to gain information on what is happening, what is and is not working.
  4. Research all precision equipment. Look past the sales pitch and hype. Look for a good track record and service availability.
  5. Be patient. Start out reasonably and develop precision one step at a time.
  6. Have reasonable expectations. Make precision work for you, and look for early results in areas that are obvious and practical.
  7. Use an open ended approach. Be sure software, hardware and raw data can be used in an expandable and flexible manner. Use the GIS engines like MapInfo or Arcview, not programs that lock you into one way of analyizing and viewing data.
  8. Find a precision agriculture company or specialist. There are companies and individuals who have precision experience (even if this experience has only been one or two seasons).
  9. Be meticulous; your data is not forgiving. Back up your raw data and make sure the equipment is operating properly.
  10. Calibrate equipment when you change fields or varieties or when environmental conditions change.
  11. Find and use what will fit your needs and plans, and implement them in a manner consistent with your program.
  12. Use a board of directors for input, and involve them in the process and the steps that they need to be there. That board might include your banker and agronomist or other family members. They need to be inolved or you may not have their support.

The Don’ts

  1. Don’t use the shotgun approach once you start precision. Stick with it. Building a comprehensive database is important. You can’t skip a few years due to crop rotation.
  2. Don’t take short cuts. Fot example, don’t use one yield monitor if you have two combines in the same field or section. Split them up so you have one monitor in the whole field or section to get complete data. Half a field of yield data really is worthless information.
  3. Don’t forget you have a farm to manage. Don’t take on more than you can handle, and don’t do more than you can afford. Bring in a precision agriculture specialist or consultant, and use their resources (a commercial? oh, not really).
  4. Don’t read more into the data maps than might really be there. You need good answers, data and feedback. Be reasonable in your approach.
  5. Don’t apply short-term thinking to a long-term project. Always have the end in mind. Don’t get distracted along the way.
  6. Don’t use sporadic precision agriculture practices or approaches. Focus and maintain that focus. Apply precision technology to the whole field not just a part. (Unless you are comparing results in a planned test).
  7. Garbage in equals garbage out. Don’t approach precision in a half-hearted manner, it’s a management decision and deserves your full commitment. Train your employees to pay attention to detail. We’ve seen one simple mistake ruin 1,000 acres of yield data.
  8. Don’t assume anything. If you think it is not working, go check it out. If you feel something isn’t working, then it probably isn’t.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the January 1998 issue of PrecisionAg Illustrated.

Leave a Reply

PrecisionAg Institute Stories
Corn Field Sunset
Industry NewsEFC Systems’ FieldAlytics Now Available in Canada
September 29, 2017
According to an AgPR news release, FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Partner Perspectives: Winfield United
September 27, 2017
Joel Wipperfurth talks about the challenges of compatibility and collaboration in ag technology, and some of the key findings that the the company’s Answer Plot program is delivering for farmer customers. Read More
Excellence AwardsHelping Producers Manage Data: 2017 Award of Excellence Recipient Dr. Joe Luck
August 23, 2017
Dr. Luck is part of a wave of young Extension professionals who are educating producers and service providers on best practices in precision agriculture. Read More
Wade-Barnes
Excellence AwardsBuilt By Agronomists: 2017 Award Of Excellence Winner Wade Barnes on the Making of Farmers Edge
August 2, 2017
Farmers Edge President And CEO Wade Barnes reflects on the process of building his company, shortly after receiving the Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur Award during the InfoAg Conference in July. Read More
Trending Articles
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imagery Deal
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Industry NewsEFC Systems’ FieldAlytics Now Available in Canada
September 29, 2017
According to an AgPR news release, FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSciFi in Ag: Chatbot with your Plants?
September 26, 2017
(Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
deepfield-robotics-bonirob
Robotics/Labor SaversDeepfield Robotics to Showcase Precision Agriculture Technology at Agrilevante
September 22, 2017
Deepfield Robotics is preparing to showcase its robotics and automation technologies for the agriculture market at the Agrilevante event, in Read More
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment for a More Sustainable Future
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
Latest News
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient …
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Vector-and-Raster-image
Data ManagementUsing Vector Soil Data in a Raster World?
October 16, 2017
Why spend the time and resources to extract the NRCS ‘Soil SURvey GeOgraphic’ (SSURGO) soil polygons only to display the Read More
Precision Irrigation
Precision Irrigation4 Important Ways Precision Technology Is Impacting Irri…
October 12, 2017
Water management is becoming an increasing concern in agriculture, whether that’s dealing with too much or too little water. This Read More
DronesDroneLife: Global Ag Drone Industry Potentially Worth $…
October 12, 2017
Via DroneLife.com’s Jason Reagan: According to an August study by Esticast Research & Consulting Market Research, the global commercial drone Read More
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imag…
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Planet Labs satellite imagery
Industry NewsFarmers Edge, Planet Labs Announce Multi-Year Exclusive…
October 11, 2017
Farmers Edge announced today a strategic partnership to bring Planet’s best-in-class global monitoring platform to the Farmers Edge precision agriculture Read More
John Deere Combine Harvester at Hagen Farms
Decision Support SoftwareAg and Rail Equipment Uptime Critical for Good Harvest
October 9, 2017
Across the American Heartland, growers have started harvesting their crops for what the USDA predicts will be a good yield Read More
Ag Drone
Industry NewsBotlink, SST Announce Integration
October 6, 2017
Botlink has announced a seamless flow of actionable aerial data into the agX Platform. This integration makes it quick and Read More
corn field
Industry NewsEFC Purchases AgSolver Assets, Establishes New Sustaina…
October 6, 2017
EFC Systems announced it has purchased the assets of AgSolver Inc. The move establishes a new Agronomic Planning and Sustainabilty Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Australia/New ZealandNew Technologies vs. Agronomic Knowledge in Precision A…
October 4, 2017
As the days are getting longer and the temperature is starting to rise, Australian broadacre growers are gearing up for Read More
Field Sky Beauty shot
Industry NewsClimate, West Central Distribution Join Forces on Phosp…
October 3, 2017
To help farmers improve productivity and return on their investment, West Central Distribution and The Climate Corporation have teamed up Read More
Lettuce-with-a-binary-code
DronesYuma Growers Embrace Precision Production
October 3, 2017
From the Rose Garden at the White House, to the laser-leveled fields of Yuma, AZ (home to 90% of this Read More
Drone
EuropeUK: Robotic Farm Completes First Fully Autonomous Harve…
October 3, 2017
It’s harvest season in many parts of the world, but on one farm in the United Kingdom, robots — not Read More
APSUL overview
AmericasFuture of Digital Agriculture Arrives at South American…
October 2, 2017
Last week I attended the fourth South American Congress of Precision Agriculture and Precision Machinery (IV APSUL America 2017). The Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Industry NewsEFC Systems’ FieldAlytics Now Available in Canada
September 29, 2017
According to an AgPR news release, FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company Read More
AgDNA
Industry NewsAgDNA Launches Profit Spatial Analysis Tool
September 29, 2017
This week AgDNA has launched a product it says has the ability to analyze profit spatially throughout a field. The Read More
Algae Lake Erie
Service ProvidersAg Retailers Report Progress on Products and Services t…
September 28, 2017
Ag retail-serviced acres of variable rate technology (VRT), cover crops, rotational soil testing, and other phosphorus-saving strategies continue to grow Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Partner Perspectives: Winfield Un…
September 27, 2017
Joel Wipperfurth talks about the challenges of compatibility and collaboration in ag technology, and some of the key findings that the the company’s Answer Plot program is delivering for farmer customers. Read More