How Data is Helping to Increase Farming Yields
Development and Innovation How data can help growers maximize their farm operations.
Today’s farms use the latest technology, yet most farmers would be hard pressed to tell you if they were getting the best results from their efforts. That’s because much of the technology they use doesn’t integrate seamlessly, and in real-time, across the entire farm operation. Climate FieldView is an agricultural software platform that solves this problem, helping farmers optimize their business.
“Farmers need to make dozens of decisions, and without the right tool this can be daunting,” says Denise Hockaday, the Canada business lead for The Climate Corporation. “Farming is an expensive business, and thousands of dollars can be lost in a single year if decisions are made without all the information.”
Considering the whole farm
FieldView takes away a lot of the uncertainty in farming and helps create more sustainable and efficient operations. There is huge variability across a parcel of land, including soil structure, nutrient levels, the type of seed for the field condition, how much fertilizer to use, and where to use it. The system also allows for variable rate seeding based on historical data from your field. This means seeds are planted where they will produce the highest yield, saving precious resources.
“There wasn’t anything out there that takes the whole farm into consideration. The benefit of our system is that it works across different equipment brands and machines,” says Hockaday. “There are farmers who say they have always done it a certain way and may be reluctant to adopt new technology, but we have invested to make it easy for them, because we’ve done the science and research.”
Bushels of data changing the way we farm
One farmer who doesn’t need any convincing is Branden Domm, whose family operates a 5,000-acre farm in Cambridge, ON. “FieldView is like our bible. We tested the system for a year and it revolutionized the data management on the farm,” says Domm. “We get real-time data about our operations on a portable device that we can use when meeting with our farm team, including suppliers and agronomists.”
He adds that FieldView has changed the way the farm operates because it allows him to control the controllables — where to plant, what seeds will grow in poor soil, and how to manage fertility. Domm says this platform benefits the entire farming community because new knowledge is gained as more farmers sign on, filling the silo of knowledge.
“FieldView allows the field to have a voice. Through the data we get, the field can speak to us by telling us to stop doing things that aren’t working,” says Domm. “We will need to continue to be innovative because we are obliged to grow more food on less land.”
Hockaday says recent innovations to FieldView have come from the 50 partners that are integrated into the platform. “By leveraging their expertise, we can offer a better experience for farmers, and create operational efficiencies that will save money, increase yields, and reduce environmental impact,” she says.
Some Canadian partners include those who offer on-demand, high-resolution drone flights to help farmers monitor for crop disease, insects, or irrigation issues. And soil experts who can help determine variability in soil structure as well as nutrient management zones.
“It’s extremely important for farmers to optimize their farms, because of the huge investment that’s involved,” says Hockaday. “Farmers are never sure what the return will be when they plant. FieldView helps manage that risk.”