Yield Data Prep Work

September 18, 2018
Written by: Ross Benisch, precision ag specailist

Most growers do a great job of preparing their equipment for harvest but taking the time to test and calibrate the yield monitor is something that gets overlooked many times. Yield data provides that final, crucial piece to evaluate your management decisions accurately, so you can make inciteful, data-driven decisions for next year.

Yield data allows you to quickly assess varieties, new treatments, new products, different seeding rates, and any other trials that you might have had out for the year. We can also use it in our VRT fertilizer recommendations to put back the correct number of nutrients that were removed in only the areas that need it when combined with GPS grid sampling. With a few bushels making the difference between having a positive return on investment, why wouldn’t you take an hour before harvest to check the yield monitoring equipment to make sure you have a successful, digital harvest as well?  We all know that once harvest begins and if the yield monitor is not working correctly, you are not going to stop.  

It is also a great idea is to calibrate the monitor as well according to your owner’s manual because it does make a difference.  Most growers think we can merely post-calibrate the field after harvest with the recorded bushels, but this is not a perfect fix. Yes, it does get it a lot closer, but the data will still be a fair amount off in your low and high yielding areas which leads to inaccurate analysis in those areas.  It’s even more important when running multiple combines in the same field because if they are not close, then the entire field will have that “tiger striped” effect as it is referred to in the industry and there is not much we can do with the data at that point.

You also want to recalibrate when changing crops and when going from high moisture to normal harvest moisture levels.  If you have a single point calibration system, you want to want to wait to recalibrate till after you finish harvesting the entire field to avoid having an area of the field that is skewed.  If you have a multi-point calibration system, which means you need to run different calibrations tests by varying your speed or swath width to simulate varying amounts of grain coming into the combine, then you have no choice but to calibrate right away. In this case, you need a set of scales on the grain cart, a weigh wagon or make small trips to town.  MKC has weigh wagons so if you want us to come to your field, then please contact Ross Benisch at 620-386-4139 to set up an appointment ahead of time.  

Another great feature that doesn’t get mentioned in the yield monitor is the “Overlap Control.” It is in most yield monitors, but it is not turned on automatically from the factory for some odd reason and it helps accurately map those last, partial passes that skew a yield map because it records an inaccurate, low yielding pass which is difficult to remove during post-processing. 

Before things get busy, be sure to download any data left on the monitor to an external storage device and delete all the prior years in the yield monitor, so it doesn’t fill up in the middle of harvest.  Follow your owner’s manual or call for help to make sure you don’t accidentally delete your machine settings, fields, boundaries, varieties and any other data in the monitor.  You will also want to save a copy of the raw data on your computer and online, if possible, so you always have a backup of the data. An interesting fact that most people don’t know about is if you fail to plug in an older compact flash card (cards that were used by the John Deere 2600 GS2 and Case Pro 600 displays) to a computer for a couple of years, the data will be erased.  Many people have a drawer in the shop where these cards have been collecting so if this is you, bring those into MKC and we can download that data into our precision software and back it up for you as well, so your data will never be lost.  
Below are two links to other articles about what to check on the system before getting to the field and after getting to the field that are extremely helpful. These are for an AgLeader yield monitor, but they are still relevant for about all yield monitors.   

Before getting to the field checklist article:  https://www.precisionag.com/systems-management/2017-yield-monitor-calibration-checklist-part-i/

After getting to the field checklist:  https://www.precisionag.com/service-providers/yield-monitor-calibration-checklist-part-ii/

Another good practice is at the end of the first day or if you get rained out is to download the data and upload it to a precision ag software to double check that everything is recording correctly.  Nothing is worse than when a grower brings me his card at the end of the season with no data, or the data is corrupt due to a bad sensor and everything is lost for that year.  

At MKC, we will help you find the correct yield monitor calibration guide for your machine, bring a weigh wagon to the field to aid in calibration, back up your data after harvest, and then put that data to good use to make you as successful as possible in 2019.   
 
Posted: 9/18/2018 9:14:03 AM by Nichole Gouldie | with 0 comments