Descriptive documentation of a farmer’s data is essential for identifying, finding, accessing, and using the data in the future. Documentation is not only important for other researchers who may use the data, but also for the farmer. Data documentation helps in remembering the details of your project that may otherwise be forgotten with time. Data documentation is easier and much less time consuming if it is performed at each stage of the process instead of waiting until the end.
Often, farmers use data to make most of their informed decisions. For instance, soil fertility data is used to know more about the type of soil and the need for fertilizer application. The use of farming data recording techniques is refinement to the existing fertilizer application. Big Data is the trending data collection; management and analysis tool which help farmers achieve productivity, efficiency and profitability. Big Data is a collection of data sets which can be analyzed and offer and create sensible and meaningful information to farmers.
From experts’ point of view, there are many sources where farmers can capture data. These are; from the seeding, soil, scouting, weather, harvest, marketing, emergence and so forth. What are the advantages of recording data? The assumption is always that more and precise data improve information efficiency, profitability and productivity, which will eventually result to good competition. Data can is essential in building knowledge base for a farmer, and knowledge is power.
Data recording can be used in making decisions such as which crops to plant and when and where. Combining this recorded information with the soil moisture data, can help in varying the amount of fertilizer to be used in different parts of the farm or a field. The cumulative big data recorded will also inform the farmer to plant a certain type of seed in some section of the field and a different one in another corner for optimum yield.
Data collection and recording is a modern way of smart farming. It emphasizes the use of information technology in the cyber-physical farm management cycle. The large volumes of different data captured, can be analyzed and used for decision-making. This provides predictive insights in the farming operations, design farming processes, and redefining business process. According to research, it was suggested that farm data is already causing major shifts among different players in food production and supply chain networks.
During harvest seasons, modern yield monitor captures yields several times every minute. The sensors for harvesting tools can generate millions of megabytes per acre. If farmers can utilize these data, it could result to great efficiency and profitability.
On large farms, Big Data can test different types of fertilizers and variety of seeds across hundreds of land fields, climates and soil. This data could be used to develop better field-specific recommendations to farmers based on different productivity zones.
At times, farmers may not be able to analyze the data by themselves, especially if it’s a big data set. Advance tools may be required for deeper analyses, which will the result to extraction of sensible information. Tools such as Trimble, and Farmers Edge were developed to collect, aggregate and analyze data in real time. It is also worth noting that, new affordable startup firms like Farmers Business Network work with farmers in the US to help them use make their data to use by extracting real value.
Advantages of keeping good records or case notes include:
- It provides accurate records of the farm’s contact with other workers in a farm and aid in continuity in case of change in management between co-workers
- It aids jog the memory as over time it can be difficult to recall the specifics of each case
- Lend credibility – this particularly helps if one is called to give evidence of a particular fact or matter in farming.
- Data documentation add credence to a claim by a farmer
- Data documentation largely contributes to crops and animal research. This results to further development in the agricultural industry.
- An organized documented data can be also a source of income to the farmer.
Striking a Balance
Ideally one tries to strike a balance when documenting farm’s records and only record relevant matters or information. It is important to note that there’s nothing lost when keeping data. The good news is that these thoughtful new digital technologies has now made it possible to collect and leverage huge amounts of critical farm data at minimal costs saving farmers their hard earned money; and as such, making a these fields operations more objective-driven, and potentially more productive and efficient. The agricultural industry is already seeing value in data and they have started to invest in the digital technologies such as microscopic data collection, for farmers to be able to produce diagnostics specific to relevant fields or even a single plants.