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Weather station in farm field Simply Creative Photography/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Why putting a value on farm data is such a struggle

When we have successes or failures, I want as many of the variables tracked as possible.

The value of data is one of the things we struggle with the most. There is so much data and so little time.

The question I tried to answer yesterday was where does weather data fit in? A few years ago I had a weather station. I used it with some success, but it seemed like other stations on the network didn’t report properly.

An example would be my rain gauge across the road would say 1-inch, my eyes would tell me 1-inch, but the station would report .2-inch. When my subscription was done, I sent the station back. Looking back, the biggest issue is that nothing was tied back to my crop or my yield. It was only an expensive remote rain gauge.

I spent an hour on the phone with the weather station people yesterday. They tell me the problems have been fixed. The account manager was very good and reviewed how things have changed, what to expect, and options that are available to me. Everything made sense and I was onboard.

When getting down to making the decision, it began to feel like I was going through the exit rooms of one of those time share sales seminars. The deals just kept getting better. Usually that is a ‘walk away’ signal for me, but since I knew I was probably going to pull the trigger anyway, I just held out until the deal seemed right. So, I guess we’re going to try it again this year.

‘But why?’ you ask, ‘What do you want weather data for?’ I want weather relevant to our fields, not interpolated from miles away. The data management service we are now using is pulling together all the aspects of our farm. From the grid sampled soil tests, to applications (fertilizer, seed, chemistry), to in crop tissue and soil tests, to yield, and weather. When we have successes or failures, I want as many of the variables tracked as possible. I believe going forward, this analysis will allow us to make better decisions.

 The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

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