How to Develop a Data-Driven Plan: Farm the Land You Have

This is the second in a three-part series on purposeful data collection and activation. Read part one on purposeful planning here.

Purposeful data collection begins with establishing a strong plan to guide what information you gather every season. Once you have a plan in place, the next step is to understand what elements you have to manage. You can make all the goals in the world, but if you don’t recognize what your specific fields or soil can and can’t achieve, you’re wasting your time. 

If you’re doing it right, quality data can provide a deep and wide perspective of what’s working on your farm. Together with imagery and soil data, it can also inform where you’re making and losing money, and help you shape decisions for the future.

Love The One You’re With

Not all land is created equal, so setting yield goals for prime black soil in a dry, sandy field will only lead to disappointment. When you’re building a data-driven plan, it’s important to strategize around the fields you have, not the fields you want, because you can’t push soil to do what it can’t. 

Making good use of your historical data is essential for building a successful data collection plan. Consider past problem areas, input or seed hybrid successes and how each area has been previously impacted by environmental factors. 

recent survey showed that while 82% of farms collect yield monitor data, only half those operations are using that data for seeding rate and drainage investment decisions. The takeaway? There’s an abundance of data available that could take the guesswork out of farming, but trying to make sense of it all can be overwhelming.

By using a digital tool like Granular Insights that automatically syncs current planting and yield data to inform your plan, you can easily compare data from previous years to review things like average input costs, revenue and profit map layers for each field.

Yield is More than Just a Number

Many farmers use yield as a catch-all success metric. But because there is so much that goes into a growing season, it’s important to understand more of the story than just yield. 

With factors like soil, growing conditions and geography contributing to your crops’ success, your yield numbers may not be relative from one field to another. Instead of playing the comparison game, use data to optimize the land you’re working with, for both the short- and long-term. 

With Granular Business, you can see where your profits are on a per-acre basis to make immediate adjustments or compare real-time data with past years’ farm financial data, ranging from cost of inputs to equipment maintenance costs. When it comes time to make seed and input decisions for next year, the data you’ve collected this year will help inform what to change next growing season and what to keep the same.

You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

Finally, always remember that you’re working in natural conditions – farming isn’t a test lab where you can control every environmental factor. So when your best-laid-plans need to change or something unexpected occurs, you need to roll with the punches. If you are implementing a consistent data collection and measurement strategy, you can make the most informed decisions. 

With a firm understanding of your holistic operation and the data you capture throughout the season, you’re better positioned to pivot based on new realities that unfold.

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