(Editor’s Note: Farmers are being told that they need to use precision technology to share in the economic return of farming by growing better crops. The farmer has to utilize data better and that is where ag retailers, crop consultants and farm managers come into play.)

Farmers seeking ways to optimize field efficiencies and improve their bottom line would be well-advised to take advantage of the many new technologies emerging for agricultural data collection, analysis and usage according to Doug Sauder, research and development lead for Precision Planting, speaking at a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention.

As Sauder explained, there is no shortage of data in today’s society and the farm is not exempt from that reality. Each year more and more technology is introduced into the agricultural world that is specifically designed to collect information about planting, irrigating, fertilizing and harvesting as it happens. The accompanying question that faces many of America’s farmers is whether or not that data helps them make decisions that ultimately maximize their yield.

“Demand for more food and limits on new farmland mean that we need to get more out of every acre,” said Sauder. “Pulling together information from different sources will help a farmer be efficient and maximize the production out of each available acre.”

Innovative technology that not only collects data but also allows the farmer to see and analyze it as planting or harvesting occurs is the next step in efficient farm management. According to Sauder, new technologies have been introduced that are even capable of relaying data from each pass of a planter or combine via text message or email to others who can monitor – and call for adjustments to – the progress from a remote site.

“The key for the future will be software tools that help farmers make better decisions,” said Sauder. “When we think about all decisions you need to make surrounding the initial planning, pre-planting, planting, in-season management and, ultimately, the harvest you realize that you only get 40, maybe 50, chances in your lifetime to get it right. You need every tool at your disposal to get it right.”

Equipping farmers with technology that relays detailed information about their planting and harvesting efficiencies clearly maximizes the amount of production that can come out of a field. That increase in yield will be necessary to meet the needs of a growing global population over the next several decades.

“Technological advances that combine knowledge of seed genetics, nutrient management, agronomy, machine optimization, and all of those moving pieces is what it is going to take to get us the efficient field management and yield volume needed (to feed the world).”