Tuesday 21 February 2017

Tips for Capturing Yield Data this Harvest

Do you have a yield monitor in your header? Do you use it? Do you want help to extract value from the data? These are some of the first questions we are asking growers this time of year. With the mad rush on to get the crop off the paddock the yield monitor is one thing that is easily forgotten and seldom used to its full potential. Many growers have paid for the technology but aren’t able to harness the power of the information that it provides.
Yield monitor showing real time recordings
One of the key points that isn’t stressed enough to growers that have yield monitors is that they should capture the data regardless if they want to use it or not. Having multiple years of data is immensely more useful than one year of data. Multiple years of data means results that have seasonality factors removed. This process is call normalisation. Data is put into a relative scale and is compared across the years. Once data is normalised then we are able to identify common zones or production areas. These zones can be marked for future management decisions.
The difference between raw and processed data. 
Processing or “cleaning” the data is the key to successfully utilising the captured data. Raw yield points have a large amount of errors and “noise” that can significantly impact on the results. With these noisy bits removed and tidied up the data becomes more representative of the paddock. Some of the factors that impact on the data accuracy are cut width, flow delay and travel distance errors.

A processed yield map
Yield data can also be useful for identifying problems during the actual harvest of the crop. In one example a grower saw the results of him harvesting grass seed in the hottest part of the day. He was able to spot the mistake as recorded yield dropped in the swaths that he completed in the hottest temperatures. Ultimately the yield information informed him that the decision had cost him.

Some tips to consider

  • Make sure that the paddock names and IDs are correct on the monitor before you start the paddock.
  • Utilise labels or tags to help identify different operations.
  • Avoid overwriting data from previous years. Make sure that the data is separated by year.
  • Back up the data regularly! Utilise the free cloud services such as Dropbox or Google Drive to save a copy. 

Yield data is the final measure of a seasons worth of effort. Yield data allows for insights into different management practices and the old adage “what gets measured gets managed” comes to mind.  

Post by Nick.