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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yield Monitors

I am writing this in anticipation that harvest will be upon us before we know it. If your combine has a yield monitor, but you are not recording the readings, you just have a very expensive entertainment center in your combine. You need to be able to look at and study yield data in order for it to do you a lot of good. You can learn which varieties perform well on various soils. You can pinpoint trouble spots and manage accordingly. You might pick out parts of fields where you are not making any money and decide not to farm them or to grow something different on those areas.

Calibration is critical. If you do shoddy calibration you will miss the subtleties that you are looking for. Another one of my pet peeves with yield data is that most of the software available divides the yield up into 5 or 5 equal increments as the default setting. You need to work at it and divide the yields up according to increments that tell you something. One point that you will want to see is the breakeven point. You could look at what areas cover variable costs, what areas cover cost of land and variable cost. You could also look at other break points that you can think of. This is work to do in Farmworks, but worth the extra trouble. The map below has no legend, but it is interesting to not that soil sampling zones correspond pretty well with yield zones.

One of the things you should use the maps for is to figure out soil sampling zones. Sampling zones will them also be used as application zones if needed in your field. We find the need for variable rate application to be limited, but in some cases it is useful.

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