Sean Trefiak | P.Ag, Customer Service Manager at FarmTRX
A yield map is the report card for your growing year, with many effects like climate (too hot, too cold, frost, hail etc.), agronomic changes, trials or soil moisture making each year’s report different from the next. Accurate, quality yield maps validate the results of your efforts and capture the record of your harvest year-on-year. Layering up harvest maps with additional resources, like satellite or application maps, allows farmers to build out the most complete picture of yield performance which informs everyday farming decisions and future plans.
Here we’ll walk through some best-practice tips for yield map review and interpretation with the FarmTRX system, and the export options available to best suit the use cases of different farmers.
If you’re just beginning with precision ag, the yield map will likely validate what you already know or suspect about your fields. Years of growing experience provides most farmers with a pretty good idea on which parts of the field tend to be high or low yielding. An accurate, usable yield map can confirm those hunches and give more precise insight into how extreme the variability may be. Smaller areas of yield bumps or yield loss that are passed by with the naked eye won’t be missed in the yield map.
Getting started with the FarmTRX system is straightforward. At harvest when it’s time to transfer the yield data to the Web App for processing, I go to the Data Sync screen of the FarmTRX Mobile App while the combine is cooling, either back at the yard or at the edge of the field, and upload it to the cloud. By the time I’m back to the house to have supper I check the Web App to see if the yield maps are up and I can use the map to immediately check how much of the field is completed.
Right off the bat I will check to see if there are any notable calibration issues coming through in the corrected yield map. Do the map values accurately portray what I was seeing in the combine? Are there any areas that don’t seem correct? Does the total take off amount make sense for how much is in the bin? My advice to users is to try to upload your yield data pretty frequently at harvest, daily is recommended. This will get you ahead of any miscalibrations or system errors sooner rather than later. Once you are more familiar with the system, data upload can be spaced out however you like although many find the daily review connects them to their field even more.
Here are some best-practice methods to interpreting your yield maps:
”The ultimate output from FarmTRX are usable, accurate yield maps. We make precision yield maps accessible and compatible with all kinds of farm management systems so that farmers have every opportunity to use their insights.
The FarmTRX Web App generates nine yield map outputs, from raw unfiltered points to automatically filtered and cleaned precision maps. Each output option offers a distinct view of your yield and moisture data, and yield maps will be visible in the Web App within minutes of data upload to the cloud.
First, check to make sure your yield map looks accurate. You can do this is by seeking out the parts of the field you know from experience to be low yielding, perhaps from high levels of saline, hilltops or other known effects, and make sure the data here makes sense. Use the opposite end of the spectrum, the areas known to be high yielding, to confirm the map is accurate. Confidence in the yield map data starts here.
It’s important to take the time to review the Boundary drawn for the field. Users should strive to keep the boundary accurate to what is being harvested, so tweaking every year to ensure this is a good idea. FarmTRX calculates results based off the harvest map and the field boundary area, so extra area included in the boundary does not affect your final results. A slightly larger boundary will ensure no raw yield points are left out.
If you have previous yield maps, take a look to compare the boundary drawn year-on-year for insights into field changes, for example drying or growth of ponds/sloughs.
The Corrected Yield map gives the finest detail on yield performance and will provide the most variation and localization. Any details that are not jumping out at you in the Corrected Yield map will become clearer in the Classified (Zoned) or Trend maps, where variations are smoothed into more easily defined performance zones.
The Trend of Yield map is a helpful tool for getting broad understanding on yield trends and can be particularly useful for soil sampling by performance zones. Sampling by zone is an easy place to start, with soil results analysis helping to provide actionable insights.
The ultimate output from FarmTRX are usable, accurate yield maps. We make precision yield maps accessible and compatible with all kinds of farm management systems so that farmers have every opportunity to use their insights the way they want to.
FarmTRX offers users several different export options from the Web App including ESRI shapefile, AgLeader and Climate Fieldview file formats. All users have access to their raw, unfiltered yield data and can export it freely. Those with full account subscription to the Web App have access to automated corrected points and maps that can be imported to other farm management systems or easily shared with an agronomist.
For farmers interested in doing their own in-field analysis, the Google Earth map output can be used for getting insights while walking your fields. Those using additional farm management systems have the option to export their maps and compare them with other resources like seeding/planting and application maps. The combination of yield maps with other layers of information offers farmers more data from their fields to analyze on their own or with the help of an agronomist.
Yield maps are just one piece of the puzzle when making agronomic decisions. A strong agronomic plan will draw on multiple forms of information, not just one year of harvest data or just one map.
The FarmTRX system offers a complete yield monitoring solution that’s affordable, accurate and easy to use, allowing farmers to focus on farming while still getting precision maps.