Using small data before big data to make better crop management decisions

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The massive uncontrollable variable that is the weather can create challenges when benchmarking and comparing agronomic decisions over large geographies.

Antara Agronomy is trying to overcome the problem with weather by taking a “small data-first” approach with Antara Insights — an agronomy benchmarking program that was recognized with a runner-up award in the Ag Days’ Innovation Showcase in Brandon.

While benchmarking is commonly referred to in the context of farm financial comparisons, Antara’s Brunel Sabourin figures the industry has been slower to use benchmarking in agronomy “because the weather plays such a variable in determining what your final yields are going to be.”

“Our approach to our agronomy benchmarking program has been more small data before big data. So we’re comparing small geographies so we can better compare apples to apples,” he explains, in the interview below.

Rather than comparing agronomic data over a large area, the company is looking at setting up a hub-and-spoke model. Each hub would consist of a groups of farms operating within a 20 to 30 mile radius, says Jenn Sabourin.

“It’s all anonymous, so you see the data from your fields, your field names, but nobody else will see it. Like Brunel said, it’s getting rid of that coffee shop talk and really having real data to compare yourself to,” she says.

Having developed the initial hub with farms in the Red River Valley, Brunel says they’re looking at options for how to expand the model — whether that’s by bolting on to an existing farm GIS platform or by developing their own software. “To me, it’s something that can be scaled,” he says.

Check out the video below for more discussion on the value of small data before big data and the potential for better benchmarking to help make crop management decisions:

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