Photos taken before the smartphone era have significantly lower quality and resolution than what’s possible with the latest mobile devices. Modern smartphone cameras can capture extensive details that could never be seen from a pixelated flip phone camera. Similarly, you may have noticed this increase in resolution if you’ve ever switched soil sample grid size. By increasing your sample resolution, you can see a much more detailed map of in field variability. When used to generate variable rate application prescriptions, this more detailed data collection can boost your efficiency of inputs. This strategy can also be used across all aspects of your business to improve efficiency.
Equipment costs are a large portion of the cost of farming, but this cost is typically tracked less accurately than other farm expenses. Depreciation, financing, repairs, and maintenance are among the long list of expenses associated with farm machinery that are very hard to track due to many factors. For example, tracking machinery by field operation is complex, as is splitting the costs by each operation. Accurately analyzing each piece of equipment separately to show when an upgrade, down/upsizing, or bringing a new operation on the farm is cost effective.
I decided to try out Farmobile’s data collection system because the inaccuracy of equipment costs was not at the level I expect for such a large portion of farming expenses. With the data collected from Farmobile’s products, I was able to gather the data I specifically wanted. For example, I compared combine cost efficiencies this past fall using this data. Our farm runs an older combine as well as a newer combine. There is a lot of added time and effort in maintenance for the older combine, which I justified with lower depreciation costs. But at the end of the year, I examined exactly how much the lower depreciation cost decreased the cost per acre when using this older machine. While my assumption of lower total equipment cost was correct, the older combine didn’t cover enough acres to make it a less expensive per acre when compared to a newer combine. This showed me the need to change some harvest logistics to ensure more acres are covered with the older machine.
Accurately analyzing all parts of a business without bias is important to making the right choices. Bias can cause decision making to be inaccurately assessed. Having data to analyze to make tough decisions is a great way to help remove bias in decision making. With data to analyze you can compare current situations and look for inefficiencies and opportunities that wouldn’t be possible from a biased farmer’s perspective. Additionally, more and more information is constantly becoming available to use data in all aspects of the farming industry. Data will continue to be the best tool available on the farm and should be utilized across all aspects of farming.