In our previous column  I talked about analyzing data at the grower level and field level, but we have yet to talk about the next level: the group level. Group data analysis is regional. Through data-sharing agreements, growers can confidentially and anonymously share their field data to receive actionable intelligence from fields in their own local area.
A great example of the mutual benefit of group data comes from one of our customers, SciMax Solutions headquartered in northern Iowa, who confidentially and anonymously shares group data with like-minded growers agreeing to be in their program.
By looking at group data, a 3,000-acre SciMax grower saved about $60,000 annually in saved nitrogen by adopting variable-rate application instead of flat-rate applying about 200 pounds nitrogen per acre in the fall. The grower and his SciMax specialist saw that he could cut back his nitrogen rate by a third while still maintaining yields.
“Growers are willing to share information because they know it’s anonymous and they will receive information back”, says Rodney Legleiter, a SciMax Solutions specialist. “We are all here to help each other learn how to efficiently increase yields and profits through information management.”
“Our Learning Group is a time for innovative growers to share about their operations and practices. It often turns into a show and tell of what has worked well for growers that others can implement on their operations or what didn’t work that they all can learn from,” says Legleiter.
Just like SciMax’s Learning Groups, group data helps growers connect the dots of what they see in the field, to how they interpret the data, and then how to increase yield for the next year. SciMax has several “Shop Talks” plus larger Grower Meetings throughout the year where growers have an open discussion, led by the SciMax team, about what the data has shown in different operations and practices.
“We allow extra time for the 95 growers to interact”, says Legleiter.
“Growers are very proud of their operations and how far they have come from the past,” mentions Peter Bixel, SciMax Team Leader. “The learning trips we take and the opportunities to interact with other successful, like-minded growers allow them to hear the latest technology and to think outside of the box to get to the next level. Learning Group members want to be on the cutting edge and be technologically three to five years ahead of other growers.”
Group data is a great way to see which agronomic tools and management techniques work and which don’t in your geographical area. It is just one more way a grower can use data to drive important agronomic decisions.