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Why You Need Mapping, Not Just Yield Monitor

Maps can tell an instant story that aids decision making.

"Sure I've got a yield monitor" the farmer says. "It came with the combine. And I use it to watch yields. But I don't have that GPS stuff or make any maps. I can learn all I need to know just watching the screen."

This farmer might have trouble convincing a fellow farmer, John Kretzmeier, Fowler, that's true. Kretzmeier has used a yield monitor with GPS for many years, and now operates the newest Insight technology from Ag Leader in his combine.

"One feature I like is that I can stop and sit here, without leaving the cab, and pull up maps from fields that I've already run," he notes. He does use a data card to move files to his home computer, but the maps are also available on recall in his monitor."

I climbed aboard with him last week. As soon as we had a break he showed me a map which told a story all on its own. It wasn't side-by-side comparisons of two hybrids, but in the farmer's mind, it was convincing evidence to at lest think hard before planting hybrid A again.

He flipped to a map that showed a field split in half by a waterway. He planted each end of the field separately instead of crossing the waterway. On the half with the better, darker soils, he planted hybrid A. On the bottom half with more lighter, gently rolling soils, he planted hybrid B. Without ever seeing the field, the story he was trying to tell was evident in one glance at the map.

The colors representing higher yields were distinct in the bottom portion- the lighter soil- where hybrid B was planted. Colors of lower yields dominated the half of the field that should have yielded more in theory, but which was planted to Hybrid B. It was a year on the dry side in his area, but with rains at key times so that yields were in the 10 to 200 bushels per acre range. There certainly wasn't damage from flooding or wet soils on the half where hybrid A was planted, the farmer assured. If anything, he reasons growing on that type of soil should have been a benefit this year.

Would our first farmer have picked up that trend just with his yield monitor? Probably, at least possibly, he would have seen it. But would it still stick in his mind vividly when the person selling hybrid A knocked on his door to sell seed? That's more debatable. All Kretzemier has to do is pull out his mapp and ask the person selling hybrid A to explain it.

There may be an explanation besides difference in hybrid potential, and then again there may not be. What the map marked by location does for Kretzmeier is help him document to others he works with that such a trend did indeed happen, he concludes.

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