What tools do landowners have to evaluate performance?
How do you as a landowner evaluate and make decisions for your farmland? In the age of technology, there are many tools that a farmer can use to help manage their land. Many of these tools will help farmers become more efficient and reduce unneeded expenses. These tools can help identify unproductive areas and allow the grower to formulate a plan to improve it.
The Yield Map
One of the tools every farmer should be using is a yield mapping system. For the purposes today, I am not going to talk about the different systems on the market but rather how they can be used to make better decisions.
So how can mapping data be used to make better decisions on the farm? One way to use it is to seek out and improve areas where drainage is an issue. Because good air and water management is so important in producing a good crop, locating these areas is a great start. How can data from one year tell you that? It may be challenging to identify every area in one year, but as the farmer gains multiple years of data, these spots will show up.
By finding these problem areas, you can add drain tile to help correct it. By improving your drainage in these areas, you can raise your overall yield average for the field. Many times improving yield comes from improving lower producing areas and less from the improving the higher producing regions of the field.
Landowners can look at the past, and plan for the future
The yield data can pinpoint areas of compaction from this year and from years past. Compaction is caused by driving heavy machinery though the field when it is too wet. This is a necessary evil in some years and can’t be avoided but if the farmer can, they should. It can also show where the farmer has implemented a certain practice in previous years. Things like if a cover crop has been planted, a tillage pass has been done, or a herbicide has been used. Many if these management decisions will show up if you take the time to look for them.
Yield monitors will help a farmer in the seed, fertilizer and pesticide input selection or with what rates to use. There are many variables that go into the yield of a field, but looking at various components can help them maximize their yields.
The map that can be printed from the yield data can be very helpful when shared with you, the landlord. When the farmer sits down with you and shares the yield results, make sure to ask questions. Have him or her explain the different passes through the field that year and look for opportunities to improve. You have a right to know what the yield is and spending that time with the farmer can be very valuable to the relationship. After all, every farmer/landowner relationship is a unique partnership, and improving the communication on the farm will impact you both. If nothing else, the yield monitor is a great way to get the conversation started.
Are you using the yield maps from the farmer to improve the land and make it more productive? Whose responsibility is it to improve the land, yours or the farmers? Or is it both?