Big Data

Our sales group recently visited the headquarters of The Climate Corporation in San Francisco, CA for a first hand look at “big data” in action. It’s a bit of an odd location for a business devoted to production agriculture in the nation’s heartland, but the implementation requires computer programmers and that’s where they are. The capabilities of Climate FieldView™ Pro are very compelling and I encourage growers to start following this technology at the very minimum.

While attending field days this fall I received more questions from growers about the rate and timing of fertility, by hybrid and soil type; and about planting densities, by hybrid, planting date and soil type. They are fair questions, but nearly impossible to answer honestly without prior data and knowledge from on farm research for each individual farm. With the diverse farming operations Renk Seed is a part of, this is a nearly impossible task. But for the most part the data exists! The trick is that the information an individual needs is buried in data summaries that are easy for a product manager, agronomist, or field staff to interpret. I would dare say that the data is structured to make comparisons and sell the product, not to grow the product.

There is a potential payoff for growers that want more from their information. Hybrid selection can be optimized by field, soil type, density, and fertility program by making the data we already collect available to growers. That is the promise of the big data movement in our industry. The data exists, now make it work for you. To fully leverage the capabilities as a grower, Climate Corporation needs multiple years of on farm yield monitor data, the Precision Planting equipment to change density on the fly, and of course a subscription to the services they offer.

I believe that in some way, shape, or form farming with “big data” is the next technical evolution in our industry. My career started at the same time personal computing became mainstream, revolutionizing our ability to collect and process data for yield analysis. The next wave links yield, soil type, weather, fertility, and hybrid data in a potentially powerful decision-making engine that even the most skilled agronomist would be challenged to match. That resource is available to any grower who subscribes. Be aware that this technology is in its infancy and just like the computer industry from which it originated, I think we can expect better “versions” every season as we add this to our management strategy.

If you want to learn more about FieldView Pro or other programs, visit www.climate.com.

BY JEFF RENK

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