Winter months can be many things to us, but probably one of the most important things it can be for us, is a time for maintenance. As the wind blows and the cold days are upon us, we are always looking for something that we can be doing to make life easier next spring. And while many of us are at ease packing bearings or replacing parts on the planter, we generally don’t think about the inside of our cab as a maintenance stop. But, I will argue that the work that we do on our monitors is some of the most important maintenance that we do all year.
I want you to think back to the last time that you got a new display on your farm. Did you have one of the ACS Specialist come out and load your field name and boundaries on it so that you had consistency, or did you just add names as needed? Have you cleared the 2016 data off of you monitor so that it will run faster and not be confused with 2017 data? Have you cleared out the names of fields you no longer have or custom harvested?
I will challenge you that all of those things are just as important as any bearing you have on your farm. If you don’t get your data tree cleaned up, it is not only possible but likely that data will end up where you didn’t intend for it to go. Let’s say you have not cleaned up your monitor and you plant a field called “Dads Home.” At harvest, you see the field named Dad, and select it and begin to harvest. But your planting maps are nowhere to be found. You call your tech guy, and after 15 minutes on the phone, you conclude that you are not in the same field you planted. Now you can’t see both data layers while you harvest, and that is the main reason you bought a color monitor.
So is this scenario the end of the world? No, it can be fixed after the season to allow statistics to exist where it belongs, but it takes time. And anything that takes time takes money. So much like any other preventative work you do, you can fix it early while it’s cheap, or later when it is more of a problem. But all of this is really the tip of the iceberg.
As we enter the next generation of data, where wireless data transfer and machine to machine transfers are becoming the norm, we need to make sure we lay the foundation for all of that to work. If we are sloppy with our data structure, these new tools are not going to function properly, and the money that is spent to have these capabilities is wasted.
In conclusion, here’s the take home for today. Your monitor and specifically its data structure has 5-6 points we need to inspect and maintain. Are field names and hierarchy correct? Are field boundaries correct? Who am I putting in charge of loading and removing those from my monitor? Is last year’s data archived safely in multiple places? And finally, have I removed last year’s data? Your monitor and data structure are just like any other tool you have. If you aren’t comfortable doing the work yourself, you need to find somebody you trust to do it for you. Your ACS team is not only trained in Ag Leader and Precision Planting monitors but can help you with your data structure on your OEM displays too.
There is only one chance before the season starts to get it right, and like any other maintenance, it will take longer than we think. Starting now ensures we have the time we need to prevent breakdowns, but this time its breakdowns in communication we are preventing.