Even though you may have just parked the planter, it may be time to think about your combine.
Farmers have been collecting GPS-referenced yield monitor data since the 1990s but those farmers were early pioneers. Today, more growers than ever are capturing that harvest information, but a few simple tricks can make the process a lot easier.
During a meeting with DuPont Pioneer's Justin Heath, manager of new services, we got a few tips you can use this fall to maximize data collection.
"You want to be sure your field names and field boundaries line up before you load your files into the yield monitor," Heath points out. "While it's less frequent, we still see some issues in this area."
If you've got as-planted maps and you want to match up harvest data, even something as simple as field names can be a challenge. Heath notes that some software is "case sensitive" which means if you capitalized the field name in one file and didn't in the other the software may see it as two separate fields.
"We've had customers name the field by crop type in a given year, like North 40 Soybeans," he says. That's a challenge if the same field is planted to corn the following year. Field names should be descriptive but more generic for use year after year. That makes lining up multi-year, multi-layered data a lot easier.
Getting correct field boundaries is important, too. If you picked up the combine head but kept recording in the machine when you headed out of the field and down the road, you know what that field map will look like. Taking a moment to make sure digital field boundaries match reality helps a lot here, and should be corrected before those shape files are uploaded to the yield monitor.
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Generate a field list and make sure the filenames match up. Check field boundaries and correct as needed to make sure the yield map file you load is for the same field boundaries you planted, and if you only use harvest maps, this is still a valuable check.
Once you've managed those field names and boundaries you probably won't have to fix that again. And consider those names when adding new land. You may know where the field is, but does your on-board computer?
Heath says farmers are constantly getting better, and making these changes is simple. He notes your Pioneer rep who can help.. Your consulting agronomist can work with you on naming fields and lining up GPS boundaries so the data you collect will be relevant year after year. It's early July, so you may not be in that harvest frame of mind yet, but combines will need to be ready to roll faster than you think. Perhaps this "to do" item should be on the August list? Just a thought.