Scorecarding, in the agricultural sense, is a way to evaluate management practices on your farm. In essence, you examine the past to plan for the future. Did you use the right combination of crop protection products? What exactly was the return on investment for newly installed tile? One way to answer these and other questions is to determine what impact your management decisions had on crop yields.
The Value Of Yield Data
There is always a bit of trepidation when using any new management approach that involves significant investments of time and money. Peace of mind comes when growers can answer the lingering question: Did I do the right thing?
“Yield data gives you the ability to quantify management decisions and understand if you received a return on your investment,” says Patrick Sanders, key account manager for agricultural software developer and information services provider SST Software. “It can justify the fact that management programs you have in place are working, or it can signify when you need to move in a different direction. Every season is different; it is all about continuing the learning process.”
Look At The Big Picture
According to Sanders, growers need to look at yield data alongside other factors such as weather, fertility, soil type, hybrid choice and product use to fully understand the impact of their management decisions.
The bigger picture also includes looking at yield data and farm assessments over several years. A problem you are facing now may be one you have faced in the past. A trend you identify may change your management approach. Whatever the case, a yearly review of all data, past and present, gives you a better perspective for wise decision making.
The Biggest Mistake Growers Make
“The grower’s biggest mistake is not going beyond printing out a yield map and looking at variability across a single field,” says Sanders. “These are good first steps, but a grower needs to go further if he really wants to maximize the potential of the data he collects. It is one of the most valuable assets growers have for evaluating management practices and making informed decisions about future practices.”
About The Series
The fertility program is at the heart of a comprehensive cropping plan, and at the center of influence in the relationship between Ag retailers and grower-customers. The CropLife® 100 Retailers survey data as compiled in 2012 reported that in aggregate, 55% of crop input and service revenue was generated from the sale of fertilizer.
To highlight the important aspects of fertilizer management programs, CropLife magazine and sponsor PotashCorp are pleased to present the Seven Keys to Delivering Effective Fertility Programs.