Digging In

Iowa Corn Promotion Board® steps up as first SHP Data Supporter

Iowa Corn Promotion Board® steps up as first SHP Data Supporter

By Shefali Mehta on Thursday, 23 May, 2019

At the core of SHP’s mission is our ability to create, collect, and integrate data.  This is no easy task. We collect at least 165 disparate variables from our partner farms. Those data come from a wide range of sources without any natural integration so we manually pull together this information.  Adding our growing number of Associate sites to the mix means we are awash in data. The need to develop automated integration is necessary to allow SHP to scale to include more farmers, more practices, more acres. However, there is not an “off the shelf” solution and the construction of such a system is necessary.

The data creation, collection, integration and quality checks are the mountains we are currently climbing. We must first clear this mountain range before we can fully analyze and digest the data to usable information for our farmers and beyond. It’s a good thing that we have a team full of problem solvers!

We have a significant challenge to address, one that plagues the industry of agriculture as we strive to find ways to create efficiencies in data collection and integration.  The driver behind this need is that farmers need their data analyzed and integrated to make effective decisions in a timely manner.

SHP is a small nonprofit. We have no false hopes that we can tackle something that many organizations have devoted millions of dollars to. However, we strongly believe we can creatively utilize existing platforms, work with a multitude of partners and use our specific strengths to contribute to this environment.

To enable SHP to fully leverage our unique data set and ensure that data goes back to each SHP farmer in a timely manner, we have established the SHP Data Supporter as a new sponsorship level. This critical group invests in SHP as we build our infrastructure, knowledge and analytical might in this area. Data Supporters' contributions will also provide more opportunities for us to collaborate with many partners who are already working to find solutions for farmers.

I am so pleased to announce that Iowa Corn Promotion Board® has stepped up as our first Data Supporter. Not only will we leverage these funds to ensure we are more effective and efficient with our data processes, but we will match these funds to recruit a data specialist for SHP.  Iowa Corn demonstrates how farmers are blazing a trail in sustainability and leading the work in strengthening how we understand the impact of various farmer management practices.

“Iowa Corn® is looking forward to the results from the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) uncovering significant benefits in soil improvements from data collected over the last several years,” said Roger Zylstra, a SHP partner farmer from Lynnville, IA and Vice President of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board® (ICPB). “Iowa Corn Promotion Board values our collaboration and supports the Soil Health Partnership with checkoff funds because every corn farmer has the potential to leave the land in better condition by incorporating the use of cover crops, reduced tillage and nutrient management.”

Iowa Corn joins other distinguished supporters, such as the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, in investing in SHPs capacity to integrate, manage, and analyze data. This support will enable SHP to analyze soil health data and return valuable information back to farmers.

“Leveraging data-driven management practices ensures that farmers are able to make productive and sustainable decisions that are environmentally-friendly and profitable,” said Dr. LaKisha Odom, Scientific Program Director at the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). “FFAR is committed to supporting research that builds knowledge, fuels innovation and enables the adopting of soil management practices that will benefit the food and agriculture industry.”

Our team is busy integrating and analyzing the 2018 yield data and 2019 soils data, and we can’t wait to share our insights with this additional support! Check in again for more updates on our analyses and data management.