Now is the time before harvest to check yield monitors, sensors and wiring on your combine. "It's essential that harvest information be properly collected and recorded in order to get the most value from participating in replicated strip trials, says Pat Reeg, operations manager for the Iowa Soybean Association's On-Farm Network. "Don't wait until you're ready to go to the field to make sure your yield monitor is working properly."
To harvest accurate data you need to check yield monitors, sensors and wiring before harvest -- here are Pat Reeg's recommendations:
First, make sure you have the most current firmware installed in your yield monitor. Then follow the pre-season checklist provided by your yield monitor manufacturer. This can be found in the manual or at the manufacturer's website. Check the hardware, including the electrical harnesses, flow sensor, impact plate, load cell, moisture sensor, elevator speed sensor and ground speed sensor for problems.
• Calibrate (distance, temperature, vibration, moisture, grain weight, stop height) using the calibration procedure recommended for your yield monitor. Many products tested in On-Farm Network trials have a 2 bushel per acre or less breakeven – if you want to accurately compare treatments it is important to perform multiple calibrations across a representative range of grain flow if your monitor allows.
• Backup the raw yield data from your memory device (card, USB stick, etc.) before reading into any software packages. Once the data is cleared from your memory device it can be difficult or even impossible to acquire the data in its original format.
• Read collected yield data into your precision agriculture software on the first day of harvest to make sure everything is working properly.
• Backup your raw data periodically throughout the season. Over the years the On-Farm Network has been unable to process and summarize numerous trials due to data loss.
• Run the combine at full capacity because combining at full capacity not only improves maximum harvesting efficiency, it can also improve yield monitor accuracy. This can be done by displaying bushels per hour on the yield monitor and adjusting speed to maintain full capacity.
• When harvesting your yield trials be sure to harvest paired replications the same day and preferably close in time. The On-farm Network removes replications in which treatments are not harvested in the same day because of fluctuations in moisture and yield from one day to the next. The chart accompanying this article shows the difference in moisture content between grain harvested at 8:00 p.m. one day and at 10:00 a.m. the next day.
• Harvest the entire trial with one combine. If you're running two combines in a field make sure only one combine is harvesting the strip trial. If one combine harvests one treatment and a second combine harvests the alternative treatment, the comparison is not valid and data for this replication must be discarded.
• Harvest in the direction going with the rows instead of at an angle to the rows. Harvesting soybeans at an angle to the field trial rows does not allow the yield monitoring of pure treatments when the trial strips are narrow.
• Be careful how you record the different treatment strips. You should record the different treatment strips in a trial as regions or loads. This helps the person who is analyzing the data, and also provides you with a preview of the yield differences between the treatments before you leave the field.
• Document what you see during harvest. The aerial imagery of trial fields that you collect helps with quality control when processing and summarizing the trial, but notes about what you see from the combine seat can also be helpful in quality control and in understanding and interpreting the results. Keep a notebook in the combine and record your observations; then send the ISA On-Farm Network a copy when you submit your yield.
• Submit raw data directly from the yield monitor memory device, rather than exporting it from a yield processing software package. By submitting the raw data, all yield files can be exported in a standardized format allowing the On-Farm Network staff to process and summarize results in a timely manner. Some exports from yield processing software do not retain the attribute information (such as speed, time/date, swath width, etc.) that are needed to process the yield using the On-Farm Network's proven quality control methodology.
Yield data can be submitted any time during the harvest season. "You don't have to wait until the end of the season to send us your data," Reeg says. If you have questions about yield monitoring and mapping, harvesting replicated strip trials, or backing up and submitting data, email Pat Reeg firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 515-669-9184.