Many people think they only need to utilize precision agriculture a few weeks a year, while they are in the field running their monitors on the machinery, so I thought it would be a good time to break down things to be doing or thinking about each month of the year as we kick off 2020. This list is not all encompassing, but will give you a good base to run with and keep you in the top tier of precision technology operators / managers for your operations.
January – Monitor your grain in storage with a system like OPI Blue. You can take advantage of the warm parts of the day to get some run time on your fans automatically, and rest easy knowing that the system will let you know if your grain condition is anything less than stellar. With a wet crop from 2019, this system is a must have!
February – Create variable planting recommendations with your trusted advisor. There is no shortage of programs out there that offer some ability to create variable rate planting recs, but this can be overwhelming to tackle by yourself without any guidance. We offer assistance to help you write these recommendations with AgFiniti, assuring a good outcome.
March – Pre-season equipment checklist, updating firmware and performing system checks on all of your displays, steering systems, GPS units, and any modules that connect to them. This simple bit of work can save hours of frustrating troubleshooting once you get to the field by highlighting potential problems early.
April – Maximize use of your display for fieldwork. You can often utilize one piece of technology across many operations. For example, if you do tillage and apply NH3 with the same tractor, you can use autosteer for both. Likewise, you likely can utilize the same display for planting and spraying by moving it, pending you don’t need both operations running at the same time.
May – As you are wrapping up fieldwork, now is also the time to start scouting your crops for the year. Drones have proven to improve both the speed and accuracy of crop scouting, and in recent years have become very inexpensive too. Check out how a high quality, “flying camera” can benefit you if you haven’t already done so.
June – Time to get the sprayer rolling again, and make sure the second pass of your herbicide program goes as planned. Your display can likely save you money with auto shut offs, but also is a great tool for keeping spray records. Speaking of record keeping, AgFiniti makes certifying your acres with the FSA quick and easy, with your acres and planting dates at your fingertips!
July – Dust off your drone, as it again becomes a valuable tool to scout your crops. This time, couple it with DroneDeploy, and you can stitch images together to get a map of the whole field, and even get a crop health index. Most of the crop health maps from this time of the year will mirror your yield map, so you can start planning with some estimates of how the crop will do.
August – Many guys are getting the last of the grain cleaned out of the bins, so this becomes a good time to inspect your grain management system, and make sure it is ready to go for the next season. This pre-season system check is vital, as once the bins are full we can’t replace sensors in the bin.
September – With harvest right around the corner, now is the time for a harvest pre-season checklist, making you have your equipment up to date and ready to go, with some of the basic pre-field calibrations like header height, vibration, and temperature out of the way.
October – Hopefully you have your yield monitor in good shape, as it can be incredibly valuable once harvest starts. Not only can you avoid harvesting crops at moisture levels above what you desire, you can also load trucks on the way to town and rest easy knowing they don’t have to worry about overweight tickets on the highway. The data collected can also be beneficial for many other things, as this is your report card for the year, so you know what worked, and what didn’t.
November – Already have a display, RTK, and a big tractor? Post harvest is a great time to take advantage of the last nice days for field work, and you can install your own tile with Intellislope.
December – As you wind down the year, you can utilize all the data you have collected to make informed decisions for the coming year. Your yield maps are very helpful for determining hybrid performance, and each pass across the field helps build another layer of data, either to analyze or for record keeping. Compile multiple layers and the information becomes even richer! Comparisons like yield by planting speed, or yield by fertility can help you make management decisions to improve for the coming year.
Check back throughout 2020, as we will expand on these topics each month with an article dedicated to the topic of the month listed above.