Denny Bell has the yield maps to prove that careful seed selection pays. Now the Terra Haute, Ind., farmer has Yield Pop, an app that streamlines hybrid selection for his 1,100 acres of corn and 900 acres of soybeans.
"This past year, I purchased seed for 50 acres from a dealer I knew without researching it," recalls Bell. "It yielded 40 bushels less than the hybrid I selected for nearby fields. I lost $9,900 on that decision."
The experience recommitted Bell to data-based selection. In the past that meant reviewing as many as 150 options for seed corn alone and narrowing them to 15 or 20. He used university plot results as well as F.I.R.S.T. (Farmer's Independent Research of Seed Technologies) plots to compare hybrids.
With Yield Pop, Bell indicates where yield results should be drawn from, soil types, tillage, maturities, technologies and brands to consider. The software produces a product listing that matches the parameters, and identifies above- or below-average yields, number of trials and result consistency. It also provides a Yield Pop rating for yield and consistency across at least 20 trials.
Developed by Matt Perkins and Alex Wimbush, formerly in strategy and marketing for Syngenta, Yield Pop grew out of their work talking to farmers about buying seed.
"We were amazed at how little data drove decision making," says Perkins. "We decided to change that. We think there is an incredible benefit to looking at the data and buying seed that performs best."
Yield Pop started out with 120,000 trials for 5,700 hybrids from across the Corn Belt gathered by F.I.R.S.T. over the past 5 or 6 years. By the end of the year, the firm plans to add up to 200,000 university-sponsored yield trials from 2012 and going back to the early 1990s. As 2013 trial results are released after the first of the year, they will be added as well.
Future plans include trends of hybrid lines over time as well as access to the entire data set, which includes chemicals applied, seed treatments and N by timing and application. "There is a lot of data to be mined for actionable information," says Perkins.