As I sit here attempting to write this article, it sounds like World War II outside my house. I live close to the county airport and crop dusters are spraying fungicide on the 2020 crop. It is hard to believe harvest will soon take place in a few short weeks.

Each of us knows that getting the combines ready every fall is comparable to getting the planters ready in the spring. We check bearings, service the engines, calibrate the meters and just give a general servicing. But what is different about fall versus spring when it comes to these machines?

Data. Yes, we want the planting data to track hybrids, starter fertilizer and weather conditions. But do we need it instantly? Not normally. We have until the next rain-out to sit down and collect it off the monitor in the cab.

What is different about fall? Most of the time, we are chasing that combine with an application of fall fertility. Whether it is for fall planting of wheat, a manure application or just fertility before fall tillage, that harvest data can be and is used to figure fertility needs for the next crop to meet the needs of sustainability, 4Rs and return on investment (ROI) of the operation. Any of you that have ever heard me speak know that I call collected yield data the grade card of agriculture.

As you get that combine ready, what are you doing to move your data quickly and efficiently to the places it needs to be? Did you service that piece of machinery as you got the rest of the combine ready?

For several years as a precision farming person at a retailer, it was part of my daily routine to do the combine tour to and from home each day, grabbing harvest data that needed to be processed for fertility application needs. In today’s modern times, there are other ways of getting that data. Many of these have been around for a few years and have been underutilized. But with social distancing taking place, we have all looked this year to the digital world more than ever. Now with API (application programming interface) that sharing of data is becoming even more fluid.

What am I referring to? All the tools that can connect the cab of the combine to your desktop, laptop, iPad and cellphone translate into the ability to see harvest data anywhere you are if you have a signal capable of connecting to the internet. In short, these are the tools that send that data to the people that need it, in order to keep your operation running at maximum efficiency.

Let’s review some of the options. We have John Deere with its operations center and the connection to the cab, Climate with FieldView connectivity, AgLeader with the Agfinity and the list goes on. I can’t begin to count all the options that seem to be out there today. But the APIs I mentioned are making this data even more accessible.

When you can connect your accounts together and share the data between platforms, this is where the efficiency comes in. This summer I have been flying my drone off the boundaries that were shared to my drone software from myjohndeere through an API. This is a perfect example of keeping it simple and everyone on the same page, as data was collected for the fields I needed to fly.

I have witnessed a combine finishing a field and the data being sent to the retailer as soon as the combine said it was in the next field. The farmer already had a plan with the retailer on how to use the data and parameters that were to be set for fall fertility. The data was processed, and a variable rate technology spreader file sent straight to the spreader truck using the same wireless technology. The truck pulled in the field to spread the plan within one hour of the combine finishing. The farmer was across the road and barely had the next field opened to harvest.

These kinds of examples are where everyone finds efficiency and ROI for their operation, all while still meeting the needs of the 4Rs and sustainability. If you are not utilizing this technology in your operation, I would encourage you to check into it. I know that some areas struggle with connectivity, but many of these systems have ways of working with that lack of connectivity. The paybacks from just the data storage and the safety of not losing that data once it is collected, is definitely worth it.