The Western View: Big Data Part 2

Taylor Hillman Western View

A few weeks ago we talked about Big Data, and how it applies to information gathered by farmers when they are growing a crop. It’s a fascinating topic, one ripe with possibilities, and I’ve been exploring it in depth. In fact, I have a series of articles coming out about it, starting this month, in West Coast Nut Grower magazine.

In Agriculture, Big Data is broken down into three main areas. There’s Agronomic Data, which includes information about activities and conditions in the field. It can be used to track water, fertilizer or pesticide applications, or any other changing condition. The smart use of the right devices creates a thorough understanding of a specific plot of land, the condition of the crop, specific pests and more.

The next broad category is Machine Data. This is your machinery and how well it is functioning.This includes repair costs, fuel consumption, diagnostic codes encountered, machine condition, and engine performance.

The last category is weather Data, which can be provided by a government weather station, but preferably from your personal weather station on your ranch. There can be a two or three degree difference between micro-climates in the central valley, and at times, that’s an important difference.

Putting all this data together tells the story of your farm and the successful management of your business. How well that story is told will decide how useful it is to gather all that data. It’s an investment in time and money to develop a monitoring network, and of course you need to know it will pay off with big dividends.

I talked to an almond rancher who created his network to monitor moisture in the root zone of his trees, the length of time a well runs and how much water it pumps, and the exact weather conditions at his ranch. He uses his data to precisely control irrigation – he keeps water available in the top three feet only, and monitors to make sure it doesn’t go any further down. We will discuss his story in next month’s issue, so if this topic interests you, I suggest you google search for West Coast Nut Grower and sign up for a free subscription.

I hope this information helps. I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.