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Data analysis can uncover hidden farm costs

Thanks to the Internet and the Global Positioning System (GPS), many farmers have now been collecting data about their farms regarding water usage, crop yields, inputs and so forth for over 20 years now. Given the new tools and technology in place today to help farmers collect, and analyse data on all farm operations aspects, the term “big data” has taken on a new meaning today. These datasets explain how significant retailers can leverage data in order to have and improve their business sustainability. It also helps to illustrate how growers can utilize measurement tools and analyse data to use seeds and apply fertilizer more efficiently and save on input costs.

Data collection or measurement can help farmers better manage their farm operations, that is, the more information farmers have, the more they can make informed and accurate decisions that are tailored specifically to their farm’s needs. The information obtained in the farm can help farmers identify efficiencies that will eventually lead to a higher productivity level and profitability while lowering input costs, and optimized fertilizer use at the same time.

When farmers have the knowledge of their farms at their fingertips, the better and more significant their opportunities to strengthen their supply chain relationship. The collected data sets help farmers eliminate the risk of volatility which is beneficial to both the supplier and the grower. In the long run, agriculture specialists suggest that the supplier should work with the farmer. At the same time, data collected and analysed helps retailers and companies increase transparency of their composition or ingredients.

Analysed data allows farmers to approach conservation at a landscape-scale, versus at the county level or even at the farm. The more information farmers have the higher chances and opportunities to work hand-in-hand with others at a watershed-scale so as to make informed decisions about conservation priorities.

While the majority of farmers and growers have done a great job maintaining and increasing soil health and fertility using conservation practices, measurement tools are still instrumental in ensuring a sustainable farming future. The information collected is critical in keeping yields and meet the food demands of the ever world’s growing population while also at the same time protecting natural resources. As the environment and population structure continue to get complicated, it calls for new ways and necessary changes in farming methodologies. The data tools can help farmers determine what these changes should be. A good example is fertilizer optimization.

There are some data measurement tools that records thousands of data points at a small cost. The results can then be integrated into a farmer’s financial records. At the same time, there are limitless possibilities to analyse farm operations that will eventually improve the status of the environment, maximise profits and reduce costs.

Every single day comes along with a new data point. There are 365 days in a year, and thus, new measurements will always pop up. Data tools are also being developed at a very high rate. These tools are helping farmers set and examine what sustainable goals they want to achieve at the end of the day. The number of technology is overwhelming, which is an added advantage to the farmer. While measurements eventually add to efficiency and productivity, farmers need to use tools that are the best suit their farm needs.

When data analysts look at the hidden costs of harvest, they found out that the cost of a lost scale ticket. For many farmers, these tickets are paper-based and are not captured in real-time unlike when using data tools. It was found that any single lost scale ticket has a recurring heavy cost in the end. Assuming that the total number of processed tickets is 2,010 which comprises of grain cart tickets and truck tickets and combine totals. If 1% of those are not recorded (around 20 tickets), it adds up to $32,500 that is not accounted for. This is an example of a hidden cost that farmers do not know about.

This implies that there are significant areas that are ignored by farmers that may be causing them that much-needed income. Gaps in information management could easily cost farmers a lot of money. Big Data has a large impact on Smart Farming which involves the whole supply chain. The major shifts in farming as a result of data in both modern and traditional farming are tremendous. Therefore, use of information and communication technology is a key factor in increasing productivity and efficiency while reducing costs at the same time.

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