AgGateway standards could help farmer and service provider

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Yield data is a reflection of every management decision. “It is the last chapter in the book,” said Steve Cubbage, president of Prime Meridian LLC, a company that is a “service provider” to farmers who are incorporating precision ag into their operations.

Cubbage was the main speaker presenting about production agriculture during day two of the AgGateway Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, N.M. Faster acceptance of precision ag could be based on whether farmers receive one place to store their data from all their different crop input suppliers, he contended. The farmer field data comes back to the farmer in various formats from suppliers and requires interpretation using more than one form of software and even hardware to compile all the data into one composite result.

Some ag retailers attempt to be the precision advisor, but they have to invest a lot to provide such service. The non-affiliated liaison is what Cubbage’s company provides in cooperation with the ag retailer and grower.

Cubbage’s definition of a service provider is a data traffic cop, a precision accountant (similar to a tax accountant), a data broker, a precision advocate for the producer and a “modern day cat herder,” which all adds up to a challenging job.

This is the 20th anniversary of yield monitors being used by the first farmers, noted Cubbage, but there are still too many farmers not recognizing how important that yield data is in developing production plans for economical yield increases.

He tells producers, “You can never recreate yield data, and you only have a limited number of harvests in a lifetime.” If something goes wrong with the yield monitor, the monitor is out of calibration or the farmer forgets to activate it, the farmer goes ahead in the rush for completing harvest. But the yield data is the mandatory starting point for all other data for recommendations, he said.

Those payoffs from data are as noted:

  • Better variety selection.
  • Multiple years worth of data tells a better story.
  • Variable-rate seeding maps.
  • Monitor nutrient removal.
  • Compare yield to virtually any variable.

What needs to happen, some of which relates to AgGateway goals for e-business and standardization in the ag industry, were outlined by Cubbage as:

  1. Industry needs to accept standards as it relates to agronomic practices.
  2. The grower needs to control his own destiny when it comes to precision data—not someone or some company.
  3. Finally, there is a need for a data advocate on behalf of the producer.

He concluded in talking to a room of nearly 200 ag industry representatives that “if the producer wins, you win.”

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