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One of the most challenging aspects of farming is that, unlike other areas of life, there’s rarely an in-the-moment chance at a do-over.

When the weather is right, it’s time to roll. Planting. Harvest. You only get to do it once under that exact timing, with those exact conditions.

That means, when it comes to collecting accurate data – data that helps you make better, more impactful decisions in the future – you’ve got to be prepared. Because (especially when it comes to harvest) you can’t go back and do it again just because you discovered too late your equipment or software wasn’t functioning properly.

By asking yourself three big questions about your yield monitoring system, you can head into harvest confident that you’ll be collecting more accurate information that can be used to make informed choices on your operation for many years to come.

Question 1: Have parts of my yield monitoring system worn out?

We’re sorry to break it to you, but just because your yield monitoring system was ready last season doesn’t mean it’s ready to go now. Yield monitoring systems are built almost entirely of wearable components – impact plates, elevator chains, moisture sensor face, small drive motors and even power cables are all susceptible to wearing out.

Before you hop in the combine, take a look through the hardware of your system and be sure to replace or update anything that isn’t functioning correctly. Especially with some of the weather events we’ve experienced in certain parts of the country, you’ll want to be sure your system is ready to collect data on grain that may be wetter or isn’t feeding into the combine ideally (example: corn that may be lying down following strong winds).

Question 2: Have I double-checked my data system?

It’s not only the nuts-and-bolts, metal-and-plastic components of your yield monitoring system that you should be staying up-to-speed with – your data system is also critical to accurate information collection.

Is your software up-to-date? Is your system communicating back to a central database like it’s supposed to be? Is your farm and field structure the same on the combine monitor as it is on the planter? Do you have full data cards? 

Data collection is only as valuable as your ability to analyze and draw conclusions from it. Be sure to work with your precision ag specialist for support in ensuring this system is ready to roll when you are. 

Question 3: Do I understand who is collecting data and how it is collected?

It can often feel like everyone and anyone is interested in farm production data these days. And while that makes sense – after all, we can’t monitor what we don’t measure – it can also be overwhelming when trying to remember and account for who’s collecting what.

Be sure to touch base with your various precision ag and data collection resources (e.g., equipment manufacturers, ag input suppliers, your SHP Field Manager) prior to harvest. In your conversations, seek to understand what data they’re collecting, how it will be stored, how it will be used, and how you can access it. Talking with these folks proactively can help eliminate data preservation and usage issues later on.

Time to Dig In

When it comes to harvest, there will be dozens of sensors, bells, and whistles to pay attention to when you’re in the cab – don’t let questions around whether or not your data monitoring system is working be one of the things you’re worried about. By asking yourself these three questions and taking some time before harvest to get clear on the answers, you can be more confident you’ll have the information you need when you’re ready to make future decisions for your farm.

Want more details on what to check, update, replace, or ask when it comes to your yield monitoring system? 

Be sure to register for our Soil Sessions webinar on September 29 when SHP Field Manager Keith Byerly will be walking you through a step-by-step process for getting your system ready for harvest. With nearly 20 years’ experience in precision ag, Keith has seen a lot of things go wrong when it comes to data monitoring. By implementing his tips and approaches, you can make sure you won’t fall victim to those mistakes! To join Soil Sessions live or get access to the recording, register here.