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Podcast 182: Data Analysis

8 Dec 2022  •  Tony Kramer

In this episode, Tony highlights how to use a farm software management system to analyze data to benefit your operation. From tillage to planting, to harvest, the data that the operations center collects can be studied in so many ways through Field Analyzer within the John Deere Operations Center.

Read more about John Deere Operations Center here. 

You can find past podcast episodes and view show notes by visiting our Podcast website

Have precision ag questions? We have the answers. Find a specific channel dedicated to answering your precision technology questions: Precision Ag Answers. 

Read the entire transcript from the latest episode,

It's the end of the year. We've collected all of this data and we always think to ourselves, "Why am I collecting this data? What am I going to do with it? How do I utilize it? Where do I put it?" A lot of questions can go through your head this time of the year after we've gone through-- well, in our part of the United States or our part of the world, we've only got one growing season. Yes, we get winter. We get the white fluffy stuff on the ground. We get one opportunity or one growing season.

I know other parts of the United States and other parts of the world, you guys have multiple growing seasons. You farm year-round, which data or analyzing your data, you got to do it in a timely manner. You don't have that break per se in between your growing seasons. You guys are constantly analyzing the data. This episode is going to be useful for you guys too, or hopefully useful for you guys as well just because I'm going to go through some tricks and tips and how we can look at and use this data to make educated decisions year after year after year.

To start out, obviously the John Deere Operation Center. I know there are other farm management information softwares out there. I encourage you to use the one that you like the most. I would love it if everybody out there would be utilizing the John Deere Operation Center, but I know that's not reality because there are other options out there. They all have their benefits, and they all have their little pieces to them that different operations enjoy. By all means, utilize the operation or utilize the FMIS that you prefer on your operation.

That being said, we should still be collecting data for all of our operations throughout the season. Tillage, seeding, application, harvest, collecting all four of those operations throughout the season is going to help us make educated decisions year after year after year. Specifically speaking, the John Deere Operation Center, the first thing is we need to have that data in there. I talked about in previous episodes, I've talked about how we get that data in there.

Really there’s two options. You're either going to do it manually via USB or you're going to do it wirelessly with our JDLink-connected machines. Those of you paying attention and keeping notes here, there is a third option, mobile data transfer, utilizing a third-party flash drive, essentially is what it is, that creates its own network with your cell phone. That is another mobile option or another wireless option to get from your display into the Operation Center or vice versa. The two main ones I guess to talk about is just getting it from the display into the Operation Center.

Operation Center into the display is going to be wirelessly via JDLink or manually via the USB flash drive like we have traditionally always done. Now once we get our data in there, again, it is the end of the season, harvest is wrapped up. Hopefully, throughout the season, you've gotten your planting data in there, you've gotten your application data in there and now we've gotten all of our yield data. Those of you with JDLink-connected fleets, all of that is going to flow automatically during the season with the completion of every operation and what have you.

That data is flowing. Those of you doing it traditionally now is the time where we go in, offload that data from the display, get it into our computer utilizing the data manager tool on our desktop. That uploads it into the Operation Center. From there we talked about some housekeeping tips. I believe that was about a year ago. We talked about some end-of-the-season to-dos. Episode 156, about a year ago here, we talked about the end-of-the-season to-dos. Once we get all that data into the Operation Center, let's wipe our displays, let's clean them up, let's make sure there's no unnecessary data.

That way we can make sure we do not get any garbage data into the Operation Center. It is very easy to clean all that stuff up within the Operation Center, but we just want to stay ahead of it and make sure we don't have to worry about it year after year. Now that we've got all of our data into the Operation Center, let's talk about our options to analyze that data. How can we look at it? How can we visualize it? How can we export it? Lot of different options, but within the Operation Center, John Deere makes it very simple. Up on top, you've got some tabs.

You've got a map tab which is the home tab. You've got "Setup," "Plan," and "Analyze." Guess where we're going to be? Yes, that's right. We are going to be in that "Analyze" tab. Now you've actually got a couple different options to analyze data. You will notice that not only do we have the ability to analyze the operational or the agronomic data, but we can also analyze our machine data. I did talk about that back on Episode 170. If you want to learn more about analyzing your machine data, go back and listen to Episode 170 where we dive a little bit deeper.

On this episode, we're just going to dive into analyzing the agronomic data. Under that "Analyze" tab you'll see "Field analyzer." That's the one I want to talk about first. "Field analyzer" is just going to be a field-level operation or task or whatever you want to think about. When I say operation or task, I'm talking about maybe it's planting or it's spraying or it's harvest or it's tillage. That's going to be our operation or task. Under "Field analyzer," this is going to be our visual.

We're going to see the map, we're going to see information, we're going to see data, but we can also dive a little bit deeper. Once we've picked our layer essentially that we want to look at, maybe it's corn harvest, not seeding. We can look at corn seeding as well but let's look at harvest, corn harvest from any given year. From there, it will pop up our yield map. If you look on the bottom of the screen, you have a summary and it's going to tell us what the area was harvested, what was the average yield, our total yield, our average moisture.

We're going to get some performance data off of the machines. We're going to be able to see average speed, productivity, total fuel utilized. All of that information is going to come in. One of the very cool pieces to this part of analyzing data is data analysis. Down in the middle of the screen where you see "Summary," there's what I call a data analysis tray. If you click on "Data analysis," it's going to pop up another menu asking for a second data layer to compare against. In this instance, let's compare against our corn-seeding varieties.

What you will be able to do is very easily compare your different varieties and how they yield it. This specific field that I'm looking at only had one variety, but those fields that have multiple varieties, you are very easily able to go in, click on. First, you're going to start with your harvest. Then you're going to click on "Data analysis" on the bottom and then in that second layer, you're going to pick on varieties. From there, you'll see on the bottom you'll get to see exactly what each variety yielded, what its average moisture was, what its total weight was, and how many acres were planted.

Comparing yield to variety isn't the only thing you can compare. You can compare yield to soil types. You can compare application maps. You can essentially compare whatever you want. Now, I will say sometimes you can get confused based on which layer should be where. My general rule of thumb, if you're not getting the data that you think you should be getting, try reversing the layers. A common mistake would maybe putting the seeding varieties on the first layer and then doing yield on the second layer or with soil types or whatever.

It may not come out the way you want it to or the way you want to view it.

Just flip-flop those two layers, and then you'll get the information that you are likely looking for, but again, you can pick and choose which layers you want to analyze against each other. I just went with the yield and the varieties because that is a very common one. Guys, they ask, "How can I just get a quick view of what variety is yielding what?" Very easy to do, very simple, very basic. The other thing I want to talk about while we are in "Field analyzer," if we go back to that summary tab, we're just dealing with one map layer and we want to deal with the harvest.

It's going to be corn harvest yield. What we can do is we can look at a specific layer. A lot of people like this feature because maybe have their own field trial or maybe they have a portion of the field that they know either does very well or does very poorly. Or maybe you had some issues with wildlife or a neighboring field or whatever it may be. If you go over onto the right-hand side, we're still in "Field analyzer." We are still looking at our yield map.We go over to the right-hand side and there's the little bar with a few different tools in it. You've got your zoom in, zoom out.

You've got your what type of map, do you want to just look at a regular map or a satellite map? You got flags and you've got a measurement tool so you can actually measure distances right from in the Operation Center. The one I want to talk about is selected zone. It's got that little shape, looks like a little polygon, looks like a square with a dip on the top side. If we select that, it will allow us to draw an area, whether it be a circle, a rectangle, or a polygon, meaning we want to draw up our own points.

What we can do is we can select a specific area and the summary down at the bottom, you will see it start to think it is going to give us the data for only that portion of the field. You're going to be able to see, again, maybe you've got a portion of the field that you know does very well and/or it does very poorly. You can set that piece aside and analyze just that data. Now you're going to be able to see the specific zone as well as the whole field and compare it between it.

This specific area that I'm looking at says, "Selected zone versus the whole field." The zone I picked was 19.6 acres versus the field of 156.4 The zone I chose, I average 233 bushels an acre. The entire field averaged 252 bushels an acre. Again, a lot of benefits here. Everybody's got their own reasons as to why they want to utilize this tool. Being able to key in on a specific area by utilizing this polygon tool is very beneficial for analyzing data this time of year.

Whether you're looking at your yield data, your seeding data, your application data, whatever it may be, we've got a lot of different options just within "Field analyzer" from the summary tab to the data analysis drawer, tray tab, whatever you want to call it where we analyzed the specific varieties versus the yield. Then we've also got the polygon or the subfield analysis tool is what we used to call it, I guess. I don't know if it's still called that anymore, but if you want to analyze a specific area of the field, you can zone in or key in just on that small zone.

The other piece that I want to talk about is just your basic overview. If we go back up to analyze and then we click "Analyze" after we open the analyze drawer, it's going to bring us to an area where we can just very quickly analyze whatever operation we're looking for. If you're up on top you'll notice that we've got filters we can do, analyze our harvest, our application, our seeding, our tillage whatever it may be. We can pick a specific crop season and then we can also pick a specific crop.

Maybe you just want to analyze your corn harvest or you just want to analyze your soybean seeding. Whatever it may be, you can key in on just those specific timeframe, the specific operation as well as specific crops. From there, there are more filters. You can go and play around with all of those on what the specific filters are. What this is going to do is this is going to generate very quick, very basic reports based on how we have our filters set. Now the cool thing with this is we can then also export. I actually forgot to mention that back on the field analyzer.

We can also export whatever map layer we're looking at. If you're looking at a specific area of the field or you're looking at one field and you want to share it with a crop consultant or whatever it may be, you can export that right from "Field analyzer." Now, we're in the "Analyze" and we're looking at reports. I've got "Harvest 2021 corn only." If I go over to the right-hand side I can click, "Share export." From there, another window's going to open up and we've actually got a few different options.

Now we can pick the "PDF detailed" which is just that. It's going to give us the detailed information for each field that we have selected or we can do a PDF summary. Maybe you just want a real basic summary from your corn harvest or whatever layer you're looking at. Those of you that love Excel, you love your pivot tables, you love analyzing data within an Excel spreadsheet, you can also export via Excel Sx which is Excel format. You can view and analyze and play around with your data however you want within a spreadsheet.

The last thing I want to touch on here in "Analyze" is the field report. I mentioned if we were in "Field analyzer" and we wanted to just export or print out a map for that one specific field, we can do that. In here, in "Analyze," if we go down to "Field report," scroll down under "Field report" and click "PDF" What that's going to do is it is going to give us a complete report for the entire farm for Harvest 2021 corn. If you want a full seeding report you would pick seeding 2000 whatever year and then you would pick "All crops" and it's going to generate a report that is going to have all of your seeding reports, seeding maps on it.

One thing to keep in mind when you click "Download report," it's actually going to send it over to your files page. From there you can very easily click, "Go to files." It's going to take you right to the files page and then from there you can either download it or you can delete it or whatever you need to do. My guess is you're likely just going to download it from the Operation Center. Download it, save it to your desktop and then you can print it, you can email it, you can do whatever you want. Lot of different ways to analyze our data. All of this is a tool to help us better our operation for next year and the year after that and the year after that.

There's a lot of different ways to look at this data. There's a lot of different ways to analyze this data. Do what's right for your operation. Make those educated decisions based on your operation, your area geographically, whatever your agronomist is saying. Whoever your trusted partners are in your operation, use this data to your benefit. Use these tools like the John Deere Operation Center visualizing things in "Field analyzer," opening that data analysis drawer and comparing our yields, doing all of that right from in the John Deere Operation Center.

Hopefully talking a little bit about data analysis, how we can analyze that data, that subfield or that zone tool, being able to key in on a specific zone, then also going in to "Analyze" and just getting those basic reports-- Hopefully, this is all beneficial to you, utilizing it to make educated decisions to better your operation year after year.

With that, hope this was helpful for you. Again, it's the end of the season. Now is the time to analyze that data and start making our decisions for the next year. With that, we will catch you on the next one. Please take a moment to subscribe to this podcast. If you haven't already, you can subscribe to the show on the many different podcasting apps that we're streaming this out to such as Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, as well as many others.

While you're out there, drop us a review. We'd love to hear what you think about the show. Lastly, make sure to follow RDO Equipment Co. on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. You can also follow me on Twitter @RDOTonyK.

Tony Kramer

Tony Kramer is the Product Manager of Planting Technology and a Certified Crop Advisor at RDO Equipment Co. He is also the host of the Agriculture Technology podcast. If you have any questions for Tony or would like to be a guest on the podcast, you can find him on X at @RDOTonyK.

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