Harvest and Planning for the Next Growing Season

 

Harvest is always an exciting time of the year, to reap the workings of an entire growing season and begin evaluating decisions to make for the coming season and year. Knowing how trials, varieties/hybrids, and management practices influenced final yield at harvest is critical to understanding what the best decision is to make for the next year, and continually improve.

 Pre-Season Planning

 Yield data is a great way of validating what happened throughout the season, and how the decisions made in years past will pay off in the future. Although the environment will dictate many final reports, using yield data for pre-season planning can help identify opportunities in input decisions, zone management, and marketing the crop. One should always remember the yield map from this season is just an indication of what  happened this year. Areas that performed poorly may just be an area of low fertility, and getting a full picture of the “Why?”  behind those areas helps greatly in planning. Understanding hybrid differences across soil types and fertility timing/placement can all be ways of using yield data to make efficient decisions at the beginning of the year.

 In-Season Decisions

 Yield and harvest data can also be used to make in-season decisions when paired with precision ag technologies giving insight across a farm. Understanding variability in the field from one season to the next can help determine whether to make that next fungicide pass, or put on extra fertility. Exciting advances are being made in yield prediction. Predictive analytics can help provide information on what decisions to make and when a potential pest or  environmental condition may affect yield.

 Post-Harvest Analysis

 Post-harvest analysis is one of the most exciting things that is continually evolving in precision agriculture. Analysis shows how decisions made during the planning and in-season parts of the year performed, and give a look into how to capture opportunity with  data for next year.

 How did planting a week later due to weather impact yields? Did those yields vary based on soil type or fertility? What did that fungicide pass return? Was it really that “bad hybrid” or was it over watered in the bottoms? Those questions may be answered with data analysis at the end of the season, reducing the guesswork of making decisions for next year.

 As harvest is completed, the question of “What to do with the data?” comes down to understanding how to capture opportunity. Raw yield data is only as good as the calibration, which can never be constant throughout the day with changes and erroneous points coming from speeds, moisture, and swath widths, starts and stops, multiple machines, and different crops. Using processed data to get an accurate report enables a producer to use a validated layer for decision-making. However the yield data is used, a processed layer is key to removing those points that can give a false report, and give the clearest picture for the process to start again in 2019.

Source:  Kent Shannon, Ag Engineer