If you haven't gone 100% into precision farming yet, there is the opportunity to get quick payback on money invested in hardware if it lets you do things like save seed on end rows or prevent chemical overlap. If you're trying to justify a purchase, those are real numbers you can wrap your mind around.
John McGuire believes the real value of precision farming will come as more people realize what they can learn from the data. He believes that data collected over time will help you control more of the risk in farming. The goal, he says, is to control everything except the factors you can't control – soil type and the weather.
McGuire operates Simplified Technology Services, based in Montpelier, Ohio. He recently visited Indiana to talk to farmers about the future value of precision farming. He believes it will be in data management, and what you can learn from the data.
"The hardware is what enables you to collect data," he says. "But the payoff from what you can learn from data may be much bigger in the long run."
How much bigger? He believes that it may be like four to one. If there is a catch, it's that the data needs to be accurate. This requires combine monitor calibration and paying attention to details when you're conducting field operation.
Someday, McGuire believes making decisions based on data collected, whether it's about one hybrid vs. another or one row spacing vs. another, will be very important to decision making. One question farmers will need to resolve as they work with companies or services that manage data is whether they want these companies to be able to use their data by pooling it with data from other sources. McGuire believes that will be a big discussion point, and that farmers should realize their data has value before they agree to giving it up.
For more recommendations from John McGuire, follow his Farm Futures blog, Ten Minute Tech.