What to do with all the data collected in precision farming and how to manage it is the million dollar question, believes Keith Alverson, a young South Dakota farmer. He shared his views during a panel discussion on the state of precision farming at the Raven Industries Summit last week.
"We keep collecting it," he says. "My dad always says, 'If you can't measure something, you can't manage it.'"
The problem is what to do with all of it that you have, he notes.
"If someone comes up with a perfect way to turn data from precision farming into ways to make decisions, everybody will be following that person," Alverson says. "Meanwhile, we continue to collect everything we can and store it.
"What I want to be able to do is success it 20 years down the road if I need to. It's possible that in the future some trend will show up or a question will arise where that data collected a long time ago will come in handy in helping answer a question and make a real-time decision."
Jerome Tschetter, also a South Dakota farmer, looks at it this way: In a corn and soybean rotation even in 10 years you only get five years of information on corn. With hybrids changing faster than that, five years of data is not a lot. He believes you need to collect all the information you can, because you only get one chance each season, and each season is different.
"I feel like in 20 years we're going to be glad we have this data," says Matt Loewe, who manages a large farm in South Dakota. "We've come a long way in precision farming. Variable rate technology is nice. I don't see a future for autonomous drones yet, maybe in 20 years it will be different. But I do think it's important to collect data."