Yield Monitor Tips, New Technologies

Ag Leader - incab
Getting a handle on how to prep and operate yield monitors still poses a problem for many current and would-be users.

In the Technology In Ag study released in 2012, yield monitors had the second highest adoption rate among precision ag tools, second only to GPS guidance systems. This high adoption rate, largely driven by today’s OEM machines equipped from the factory with yield monitors, confirms the importance of monitors to many growers. “They realize that it is near impossible to know if agronomic performance is improving if there is no year-to-year benchmark comparison,” says Sam Worley, product marketing specialist with yield monitor pioneer Ag Leader.

But getting a handle on prepping and operating the monitors still poses problems for many current and would-be users. How do growers set up systems effectively, generating real information?

Data Gathering Steps

Capturing good data is a process. Steve Cubbage, president and owner of precision ag firm Record Harvest, suggests the first step: Plan and prepare before going to the field, before planting. Iron dealers, retailers or independent consultants — or a combination of all three — can help with this. They can start with a very basic “kitchen table” discussion about what good data looks like.

A key part of that planning process is naming farms and fields consistently, in a way that will be used exactly the same in every precision display on a farm. “No more random naming of fields ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C’ or ‘1,’ 2,’ ‘3.’ No more randomly naming seed varieties with generic names like ‘corn’ or ‘soybeans,’” emphasizes Cubbage.

He says one of most important things his team does is something called “Precision Prep” or “Monitor Prep.”

“Before the season even starts we program every display on the farm with a standardized template that includes proper names of farms and fields, GIS field boundaries and a personalized picklist of seed varieties to choose from,” he describes. “That way at the end of the season everyone is on the same page instead of having to go back and sort everyone’s dirty laundry when it comes to data. It is better to start out right then to try and make it right after the train wreck.”

After pre-season work comes calibration, a task that’s not exactly simple, admits Cubbage. “It takes focus, dedication, commitment and time to calibrate yield monitor systems.”

But “getting a proper calibration is still the most important thing in capturing yield data,” says Ag Leader’s Worley.

To properly calibrate, Ag Leader recommends running four to six calibration loads to get multiple data points and an accurate read of highs and lows, to produce the most accurate results across all flow rates. Following this calibration procedure ensures the yield monitor will provide a year’s worth of accurate, quality data to act on. “Why skimp on a few calibration loads in the fall only to base your whole year’s report card on marginal data?” Worley suggests.

He notes that with four to six weight calibrations, Ag Leader’s yield monitor can be dialed in to be within 2% accuracy across all loads, and many users have reported even better results.

Cubbage says companies are working to make the calibration process simpler. For instance, Precision Planting says its new entry into the yield monitor market only needs one calibration per crop vs. the four or five required of current systems.

But he does admit, “I’m not sure that if a guy who won’t do three or four calibrations will even do one.” Cubbage has found that yield monitors (field-installed or OEM out of the factory) on combines that are covering most of the country’s acres “are horribly underutilized and the need for calibration is not taken seriously.”

Accuracy is the most important aspect of yield data so growers need to consider the variables that go into capturing it, says Brian Sorbe, director of sales, Americas at Topcon Precision Ag. The type of sensors a manufacturer employs, sampling frequency, integrity of the calibration, grain test weight, machine roll compensation and sensor maintenance are only a few of many factors that affect overall accuracy of the data and yield monitor outputs.

Data Captured Where?

Cubbage says growers should make sure to save their original or raw data after downloading it. “Do not give your data away first,” says Cubbage. “Always keep your original data either in your own computer or cloud account.”

Ag Leader’s AgFiniti cloud-based data management platform has improved data capture and made it more accessible, says Worley. With AgFiniti, yield data collected in the cab can easily be stored in the cloud, ensuring it won’t be lost and making it accessible when and where users need it.

John Deere’s JDLink technology is another example of cloud storage of yield data.

Cubbage believes going wireless is the latest, greatest improvement to yield monitors to come along in years. Why? “Because even though yield monitors have been around since the 1990s, the reality is that most yield data never made it back to the office. Most yield data suffered the same fate as do socks in your dryer. It just disappears.

“Wireless data transfer will grow the amount of actionable yield data exponentially over the next few years. It is a big deal,” he says.

Currently, growers are using this valuable data for analysis to improve year-to-year agronomics and take their yield maps to the field on their tablet during crop scouting. Or they overlay yield over planting maps to look for trends, notes Worley. Other growers appreciate the on-the-go yield indication right from the display in the cab, allowing the ability to make quick decisions for the upcoming season such as which variety to early order or anhydrous rates for fall application.

There’s a “potential disrupter” now arriving on the market that’s the result of what is created when a device combines ISOBUS reading technology with wireless technology, Cubbage adds. The two companies currently “attacking” this space are Farmobile and 640 Labs, which was purchased last December by Monsanto.

Both Farmobile and 640 utilize technology that generically plugs into the onboard nerve center of farm vehicles and can capture all sensor information — including yield data — and transmit it wirelessly back to a grower’s account in the cloud and even show it real-time on his mobile device.

“If this can be done successfully it could have traditional precision hardware manufacturers shaking in their boots. Who would I need a $4,500 yield monitor display?” Cubbage points out. “Instead I can use a $300 Android tablet.”

This technology certainly will make capturing data almost seamless, so finally it will be easier and cheaper and more and more growers will start using yield monitors, he believes.

Education Neglected

“Operating a yield monitor should not be that hard; however, it is perceived as hard by many people who are afraid to really understand it, or they just view it as in-field entertainment with no real long-term value,” says Cubbage.

The precision industry has done a poor job of educating/training producers in how to operate and program precision displays to capture useful data, he believes. The proof? “Look at the issues Monsanto had when the company first rolled out its FieldScripts program,” he says. “To participate in the program, a grower had to provide three ‘good years’ of yield data to his Monsanto seed representative. Given the fact that yield monitors had been around for 20 years, and they would be dealing with some of the most progressive and elite growers, Monsanto assumed growers easily had such data archived.

“But even the best growers had a hard time stringing together three good years of data,” Cubbage points out.

“The simple and honest fact is that most iron dealers really don’t have a vested interest in whether your yield monitor collects good data or not. As long as that combine picks corn, their primary job is done. Knowing how to change varieties or calibrate — well, that’s something you can figure out on your own,” he says. “The precision hardware industry has done a terrible job in educating and training producers in how to operate and program their precision displays in order to capture good data.”

More Advances

This year saw the entry of a new player into the yield monitor market, Topcon Precision Ag. The company introduced its YieldTrakk family of solutions, which Sorbe says has “some noteworthy improvements” to the technology that will give OEM yield monitors and aftermarket competition a run for their money. He credits the team at RDS (Topcon purchased Digi-Star/RDS this year), which has 15 years experience in yield monitors — and which he notes has created some of the “bedrock” technology used in most modern units.

YieldTrakk is designed to provide operators with real-time data collection that includes monitoring and mapping of yield and moisture and cut rate, as well as the total weight of crop during a harvest. Coupled with cloud-based data transfer systems, yield data can be automatically transferred from the combine back to the office.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Data Management Stories
Spray Drift
Data ManagementWeather Imposes New Time Restraint On Safely Spraying Dicamba
March 28, 2017
Dicamba drift is causing an uproar and exposing the ag community to a new reality: growers are going to have Read More
Davie Stephens combine
Data ManagementData Ownership: A Cautionary Tale
March 25, 2017
Davie Stephens, who lives in Hickman County, KY, farms more than 5,000 acres in Western Kentucky and Northwestern Tennessee. Stephens Read More
Bruce Rasa corn AgVoice app
Data ManagementVoice-To-Data Tool Shows Promise For Scouting
March 24, 2017
See it, speak it, record it. No pens, no paper, no lost information. In a nutshell that’s what Bruce Rasa Read More
Farmer with iPad
Data ManagementRegaining Control Of Field Data
March 23, 2017
When it comes to creating and building value with farmer-customers, service providers today have new allies to support their efforts. Read More
Trending Articles
Bruce Rasa corn AgVoice app
Data ManagementVoice-To-Data Tool Shows Promise For Scouting
March 24, 2017
See it, speak it, record it. No pens, no paper, no lost information. In a nutshell that’s what Bruce Rasa Read More
Downed Drone
DronesOpinion: The Agricultural Drone War Is Over, And They Lost
March 15, 2017
If you are late to the aerial imagery party and think that agricultural drones are the vehicle that are the Read More
Nebraska Farmer
Business ManagementA Right To Repair: Why Nebraska Farmers Are Taking On John Deere And Apple
March 10, 2017
There are corn and soy fields as far as the eye can see around Kyle Schwarting’s home in Ceresco, NE, Read More
Australia crop
Ag Tech GlobalMaking Precision Agriculture Work In Australia
March 6, 2017
Editor’s note: Reinder Prins is Market Development Manager for Cotton Growers Service in Wee Waa, NSW, Australia, where he is Read More
ScoutPro | ScoutPro
Decision Support Software17 Field Scouting Apps For Precision Agriculture
February 6, 2017
There are dozens of easy-to-use mobile apps that are ideal for every day field scouting tasks. From record keeping and Read More
John Deere Dealership
Business ManagementAg Retailer, Equipment Dealer Improve Service By Working Together
January 27, 2017
Some believe that in many aspects of life, timing is everything. Among those believers, please count Randy Bartholomew, Integrated Solutions Read More
Latest News
Spray Drift
Data ManagementWeather Imposes New Time Restraint On Safely Spraying D…
March 28, 2017
Dicamba drift is causing an uproar and exposing the ag community to a new reality: growers are going to have Read More
Plantium VADER
Ag Tech GlobalCase Study: How Atlas Correction Service is Positioning…
March 27, 2017
Plantium in Santa Fe, Argentina, is a full-service provider of precision agricultural guidance systems to some of Argentina’s largest farming Read More
Becky Huttenga featured image
Tools & Smart EquipmentAgtech Grows In Michigan
March 27, 2017
Michigan is more famous for its car industry, great lake, and big 10 universities than it is for agriculture. But Read More
Davie Stephens combine
Data ManagementData Ownership: A Cautionary Tale
March 25, 2017
Davie Stephens, who lives in Hickman County, KY, farms more than 5,000 acres in Western Kentucky and Northwestern Tennessee. Stephens Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
PrecisionAg Institute9 Rules For Success As A Trusted Advisor
March 24, 2017
With support from the partner organizations of the PrecisionAg Institute, Millennium Research conducted a survey of 215 farmers from around Read More
Bruce Rasa corn AgVoice app
Data ManagementVoice-To-Data Tool Shows Promise For Scouting
March 24, 2017
See it, speak it, record it. No pens, no paper, no lost information. In a nutshell that’s what Bruce Rasa Read More
Farmer with iPad
Data ManagementRegaining Control Of Field Data
March 23, 2017
When it comes to creating and building value with farmer-customers, service providers today have new allies to support their efforts. Read More
Y-Drop 360 Yield
Tools & Smart EquipmentSplit Nitrogen Application: Where The 4Rs Get Real
March 23, 2017
When Illinois Grower Jeremy Wilson hit the farm conference circuit these past two years, one of his talks was always Read More
Hort TechSciFi in Ag: Robots Could Take Multi-Hybrid Planting Ne…
March 23, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Erich Eller ForeFront Ag Solutions with Ag Eagle-drone
Business ManagementForeFront Ag Solutions: Going Beyond The Averages
March 22, 2017
He’s flying essentially solo these days with business support from his wife Jennifer, but Erich Eller has big dreams for Read More
Ag Tech GlobalFarmobile Continues Connecting the Dots, adds Buyer to …
March 21, 2017
Farmobile announced today that Guy Carpenter, a global risk and reinsurance specialist, will purchase enhanced data sets to help optimize Read More
Valley Irrigation 8000 series corn
Hort TechValley Irrigation Now Exclusive OEM Provider of Trimble…
March 21, 2017
Valley Irrigation and Trimble announced that Valley Irrigation will become the exclusive OEM distributor of Trimble’s Irrigate-IQ precision irrigation solution, according Read More
Farmer Brad Hagen inspects cover crops
Business ManagementTop 5 Features Of A Good Sustainability Program
March 20, 2017
In a recent study, 60% of Iowa farmers agreed that their fertilizer dealers should do more to help them address Read More
Soil sampling Brazil
Ag Tech GlobalAn Overview Of Precision Ag In Brazil
March 17, 2017
Brazil is a huge player in international agriculture and precision farming is helping to increase productivity. With diverse crop production, Read More
Web Soil Survey soils map
Imagery/SensingCan The Web Soil Survey Help To Uncover Answers To Prec…
March 16, 2017
A farming magazine recently published an article of an interview of two experts discussing how understanding the topography of a Read More
Downed Drone
DronesOpinion: The Agricultural Drone War Is Over, And They L…
March 15, 2017
If you are late to the aerial imagery party and think that agricultural drones are the vehicle that are the Read More
Ag Retailer and Growers with tablet WinField United
Data ManagementEliminating Human Error In Precision Ag Data Documentat…
March 15, 2017
As precision ag consultants, we spend a lot of time working with clients to implement best management practices to acquire Read More
Curve Compensation ExactEmerge
ProfessionalsHow To Avoid Yield Loss Using Curve Compensation
March 15, 2017
Planting is often considered the most important step in a farming operation. For this reason, there have been many advancements Read More