Last fall, access to real-time yield monitor data paid off big-time for Indy Family Farms.
Soon after yield data from each harvested field began to roll in via a new wireless communication system, Chester Birch and Dan Moeller had confirmed what they had feared — yields were running lower than expected.
“This year, we knew that yields would be down by the second day of harvest, so we were able to react,” recalls Birch, manager of business development for Indy Family Farms.
The two immediately set about analyzing yields field by field, then revising fall fertilizer prescriptions in light of reduced nutrient removal from the smaller crop. Within days, fertilizer rigs were on the job, applying less fertilizer than normal, but appropriate given the short crop, Birch says.
“Timeliness can be critical to make the most of precision ag data in the fall,” says Moeller, the farm’s technology specialist. Before Moeller joined the farm’s staff last year — and before adding Trimble’s Connected Farm wireless data transfer system to their combines — importing and analyzing yield data typically took days or weeks, too late to affect fall fertilization.
“In the past, we simply went off our soils prescriptions based on samples taken in the spring, long before yield potential is identified,” Birch says. “We weren’t able to take advantage of harvest information, whether we had good yields and needed more fertilizer, or poor yields and needed less.”
The fifth-generation farm, which has grown 10-fold from the 1,200 acres managed in 1996, operates in five counties southwest of Indianapolis. Some fields are more than 100 miles from the home office, so logistics functions built into Connected Farm have helped streamline field and maintenance operations.
Having access to data immediately also has improved the farm’s ability to capture quality data. “We know in real time what kind of data we are getting,” Moeller says. “If something isn’t going right, we can make adjustments in the field before it is too late.”
“When we know in real time there is a problem, we can figure out what it is and fix it rapidly,” Birch adds. “It’s really expensive to have a combine sitting. But it’s also expensive to have bad data.”