Data Management: It's All in the Details

January 25, 2024  |  By ForGround by Bayer

Data. One four-letter word that means everything in today’s agriculture world.

You rely on consultants every day for seed, chemistry and fertilizer applications. Add in tillage data, crop rotations and other management practices, and the sea of data in your farm business can leave you feeling like a sinking ship. That’s why a trusted data adviser that understands your operation’s goals can help you transform your production data into a useful tool to assist in management decisions, certify your production and prepare your business to participate in up-and-coming revenue opportunities.

How you can get organized to manage data

Digital tools and technology continue to evolve rapidly in agriculture. According to Krista Russell, carbon customer success manager with ForGround by Bayer, agriculture data can lead growers to better decision- making, more efficient operations and help open new revenue streams.

“Agriculture data consultants and precision agriculture specialists can help you get the most value from your data and recommend new uses of technology on your farm,” Russell explains.

She adds that agriculture data advisers are experts in organizing, managing and editing a vast array of agricultural data types.

For example, Climate FieldViewTM software can assist in data organization by bringing different types of data from various brands together in one place. Increased efficiency could be realized in your operation when data advisers assist you in discovering insights from your data.

“Data will allow you to understand every variable that went into a field, from seed to chemical to the weather,” Russell says.

The result can lead to clear directions for future decisions based on what worked best on your farm in the past, making data insights personalized and specific. Having the capability to gather insights from a field can help pave the way for more certain and informed decision making. That’s made possible from knowing metrics such as what hybrid or chemicals performed the best, what practices had the best return on investment (ROI) and how a field with cover crops performed compared to a field without.

Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs), extension professionals and private industry consultants can all provide valuable insight as data advisers. Still, determining the goal for your data is essential before the best perspective can be provided on how to use the information.

“If your goal is expert agronomic insights, a CCA well versed in agriculture data may be able to provide you with the best insights,” Russell explains. “Private industry brings a different perspective which can also be valuable.”

If you intend for the data to be used for a new revenue stream as part of the Bayer Carbon Program, Russell suggests working closely with Bayer Carbon Program experts who can provide the insight needed of the exact data necessary to meet program requirements and format.

Private industry professionals can assist if you want to learn more about how to better use data from specific software. If you’ve been using Climate FieldView for several seasons, for instance, your local FieldView expert might be a better resource for helping you understand how to get more insights from the software and your data within it.

Partnerships between private companies can reveal even more tools and resources for growers. A variety of platforms connect, allowing data to flow from one company’s digital tool to another.

“Bringing data together in various tools can provide more in-depth insights,” Russell says. “An ag data adviser can help you identify and make these connections between various tools that would be most advantageous for your operation.”

To learn more about what digital agriculture tools and data are available for you, extension personnel can be a valuable, unbiased resource. Extension specialists also have a broader understanding of agriculture data tools when compared to a private industry expert in a specific platform.

How you can prioritize data

As you seek out an agriculture adviser for your farm business, remember to prioritize working with an expert who specializes in managing data. Keep in mind that data files are unique to different companies and specific to certain brands.

“You want an adviser who not only understands these differences, but also someone who is proficient in bringing different file types of data together, has experience in data editing tools and has a strong understanding of data management software currently available,” Russell explains.

One valuable skill set to have when working with agricultural data is Geographic Information Systems (GIS). When using specific software in your operation, be sure your data adviser has a keen understanding of the software. Russell says the best agriculture data advisers don’t have to be experts on all aspects of your operation but should be savvy in the use of data within agriculture.

“A good data adviser will be able to pull insights from your data that not only is easy to understand, but also easy to share with other consultants on the farm,” Russell says.

Your current experts can still be helpful, yet using your data adviser to help glean detailed information to better engage your current consultants can provide you with the best advice. Compile and organize your data with the help of a data adviser so you can easily send it to your CCA or other expert to help make recommendations for your operation.

Working with an agriculture data adviser can benefit you in many ways. While you can choose who you’re willing to share your data with, keep in mind that regardless of which consultants you select the advantages will come from high-quality agriculture data from your operation.

“Creating seed, crop protection and fertility prescriptions from historical data is just one of many examples of positive outcomes from quality data,” Russell says.

She adds that organized data leads to better decision making, increased operation efficiencies, use of best data technology and a stepped-up ROI. And all are direct benefits of working with an agriculture data adviser.

How to capture innovative opportunities

According to Russell, data is most valuable when you can collect valuable insights from it to tell a story. Data can be used as a source of truth to show the benefits of implementing new practices on your operation when working with your bank, insurer or landowner.

Consider soil health and yield data. From that information, you can show how switching to cover crops and conservation tillage have improved productivity and the quality of the soil.

“Collecting and using ag data can help provide more transparency for stakeholders, along with increase your support as you are selecting the best practices for your land based on data insights and past performance,” Russell explains.

Some tools on the market also contain features that allow for data to be shared with key partners. Climate FieldView allows growers to export data with PDF reports, which are easy to read, understand, email and print — allowing for data to be easily shared with the right consultants.

“Trusted ag data advisers can help you organize, export and share your data with key partners for your operation, leading to more transparency and visibility for all involved,” Russell says.

Collecting high-quality data is key to ensuring you get the most out of the information. Performing quality checks on your data on rainy days throughout the growing season helps ensure you have the highest quality information available to you. Errors can be corrected, if needed, by agriculture data specialists who have access to special tools that can adjust field boundaries, change hybrid names or move data from one location to another.

“This ensures that as soon as harvest is finished, you have organized and high-quality data that can be used to make important decisions for next year’s season,” Russell says.

She adds that analyzing data throughout the growing season provides great value to growers, from identifying potential gaps after planting to field scouting and mitigating yield losses to future management decisions. Winter months can be used to get organized for the following season, submit data to established partners and finalize decisions for the upcoming year.

As data and technology only continue to play a key role in farm businesses, having organized and insightful information can help position you for future opportunities. You can be rewarded by ForGround by Bayer for adopting regenerative practices through participating in carbon programs.

Taking part in carbon programs like the one Bayer offers can help growers create additional revenue for their operations. Through the Bayer Carbon Program, enrolled growers use their on-farm data to provide evidence of switching to and continued use of regenerative practices on their farms.

“As we continue to innovate into the future, on-farm data not only is going to play a large role in the carbon market, but also in other innovations,” Russell says. “We are heading to a future where operation decisions are personalized for each individual grower, with deep roots in historical data.”

This article was written by Trust In Food in collaboration with Bayer