With the late planting, wet conditions and critical eye to remain profitability, it’s a high stakes game in agriculture this year for accurate and effective scouting.
Set yourself and the farmers you work with up for success. Here are five tips in using technology to make scouting easier and more effective.
1. Think of in-season record collection as a tool for scouting.
“It’s important to have accurate planting data and accurate records on crop protection applications, so when you’re out scouting that information is right athand and you can make sense of a weed break or stand count issues,” says Scott Cogdill Proagrica Agronomy Solutions Director.
He notes that dataset should cover all the basics: when, what kind of field pass, rates of any application, and other field notes.
2. Keep the process simple and transparent to the scouts.
Cogdill says there is no reason to overthink the process behind scouting.
“You don’t have to get overly technical. The value in your tools used for scouting is in the person being able to use them,” he says.
And the first step before heading to the field is straight-forward: get all of the information prepped before the scouts head to the field.
“There’s nothing worse than trying to find information and get it organized next to a cornfield,” he says.
He advises to be transparent with minimum requirements for what you expect scouts to collect.
“Dropping a pin that says “waterhemp” doesn’t mean anything. But by adding the weed height and other details does mean something. So set your expectations for those who will be the boots in the field,” he says.
3. Use data to make a priority list of which fields to scout first.
“Having that baseline of data helps you know what fields will need your scouting pass first,” he says. “And remote imagery can also help you know what fields need to have a human eye put on them.”
4. Pick the right tool for you and your team.
“All individuals involved in the field should be able to collaborate—agronomists, interns, growers should all be able to share data on the same platform,” Cogdill says.
He notes an interesting trend has been the move from using tablets in the field to using smartphones.
“When you’re scouting, you don’t need a big screen. You just need to be effective at collecting data,” he says. “Once you aren’t running an ATV across the field, carrying a tablet is a bit harder than a phone you just put in your pocket and walk.”
5. Bad data means wasted time
“When you don’t account for field history you are misusing your time and losing efficiency,” Cogdill says. “Having the full picture gives you access to what is the core issue so it’s not misidentified.”
He says there’s no time like the present to start collecting high-quality data that can be used reliably going forward. This includes if you don’t have field history. There are many scouting management systems available – ensure they have the functionality to turn your collected data into actionable insights and have the ability to grow with you as you become more sophisticated with your data-based recommendations