Mike Cerny, Sharon, WI, has been using GPS precision agriculture tools for nearly 15 years. Here are a few of his tips for managing data.

  • Invest in computer power. Buy plenty of memory and high-end graphics capability.

  • Download and back up. Any time you geo-reference fieldwork, download your data that same night. Back up your data on a CD and put it in your bank safety deposit box. “It's a valuable asset.”

  • Collect good data. Properly calibrate your yield monitor, and be aware of weather and field conditions that can distort the readings. “If you're basing your decisions off bad data, you're sunk.”

  • Make in-season observations. Yield maps show you where yield variations occurred within fields, but they don't tell you why. To interpret your data, you need to observe things like weed and insect pressure, disease and standing water.

  • Focus on key performance data. “I tried working with a software program that had 75 data layers. That's too many.”

  • Make a commitment. Be prepared to spend a lot of time digging into your data. “If I had $5 for every hour I've spent in front of my computer, I'd be retired by now.”

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