While undoubtedly bringing a wealth of benefits to the agricultural space, rapid advances in ag technology have produced exponentially more data, overwhelming decision makers in the process. Whether on a product and its performance, how a field has been managed or how a crop is growing in a given season, there is an abundance of data that has created a significant amount of noise around the decisions product managers, researchers, agronomists and growers have to make.
This new reality has changed the conversation from concerns around there not being enough data to finding ways to synthesize all the available data to make the right decisions.
The challenges of understanding environmental data
For many, finding meaningful ways to incorporate environmental data into decision making is especially challenging. While everyone in agriculture knows the environment is important, many have always relied on ad hoc observations and gut feelings when determining how the environment has or will impact product performance.
Taking environmental data, overlaying it with product-specific data like trial results and on-farm performance, and then leveraging insights from that environmental data is a mountain most ag players don’t have the time, resources or capabilities to climb. The reasons environmental data is so challenging to understand are three-fold:
- is complex;
- may be incomplete or not available in a timely manner; and
- may be coming from many different sources, likely in different formats and/or at varying resolutions.
But without understanding the data, how can you make informed decisions?
Whether you are a researcher looking to understand trial results, a product manager making advancement decisions or an agronomist striving to recommend the right product in a given situation, having accessible and actionable environmental insights allows you to be more confident in your decision making.
The ClearAg difference
As a provider of consistent, reliable weather and soil data, we understand this need and the competitive advantage you can gain with an enhanced understanding of how the environment impacts product performance. Which is why we are taking the next step and introducing ClearAg Environmental Indices.
Our index approach represents a shift from providing you with a wealth of environmental data to providing key, actionable insights. As an analogy, we are no longer only providing you the haystack, but delivering the needle, several in fact.
Indices can be used to answer questions like:
- which field sites are at risk for emergence issues;
- what fields have a risk of disease development over the coming days; or
- how typical the environment was in one season relative to historical averages.
These insights can be used in real time to aid in decision making or be used retrospectively to support data analysis or better understand what happened at a location or set of locations.
The environment and product performance
Conditions at the time of planting through crop emergence are one example of a critical period where the environment dramatically impacts performance – whether you are looking at the genetics of the crop themselves, a biological or chemical seed treatment, or an early-season product application. ClearAg has developed an Emergence Risk Index for both corn and soybeans to provide you a straightforward assessment of which locations are at risk of challenging emergence conditions. The index provides a score from 0-100 for each location, as well as key supporting data to explain the causes of poor emergence conditions in a simple, easy-to-understand dashboard.
In real time, these risk indices can be used to identify locations where additional notes should be taken, where replants may be required, or where management recommendations may need to be modified. For locations where you are collecting data, the index can be used at the end of the season to group locations that faced similar levels of stress during emergence or identify locations to exclude from analysis completely, leading to more insightful understanding of trial results.
Putting environmental data in context
Another challenge that often faces researchers and product managers is how much confidence they place in a data set, especially if they only have one season of data or few locations to work with. For locations where a product performed exceptionally well – or poorly – were the environmental conditions typical of a normal season? Was it extremely hot? Or wet? The ClearAg Normalized Environmental Conditions Index can help you to answer these kinds of questions for over 40 environmental variables.
For example, if you want to know which locations had higher or lower soil temperatures compared with the average for each respective location, the Normalized Environmental Condition Index for Soil Temperature can tell you, with a score of 0 being very cold, 50 being average and 100 being exceptionally hot. The index can be run for an entire season or a specific date range that is of interest to you and your product’s performance, and leverages 30 years of historical environmental data. The resulting insights will help you better understand what conditions influence performance as well as guide you in how much confidence to put in a limited data set.
The power of simplified insights
To date, ClearAg has developed a suite of initial indices to show the power of simplified insights to support your decision making. These indices are available as is, but can also be customized for your particular crop, disease or pest target, product or use case to help you more seamlessly understand environmental data and incorporate it into your decision making, product placement and recommendations.
Want to learn more? Contact your ClearAg representative with questions or for more information.
About the Author
Karolyn Terpstra is a crop science market segment manager at Iteris.
Connect with Karolyn on LinkedIn.