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Yield Mapping Tips – Harvest 2015

Yield mapping is an effective way to capture crop performance, providing a measure of total production from each paddock, plus the variation within paddocks. Yield maps are particularly useful for on-farm trials of new varieties, fertilisers, fungicides or other crop inputs.

A small amount of preparation plus attention to detail, can be the difference between good quality yield maps and the frustration of missing or corrupted data. The following tips may assist in the process of capturing reliable yield data. 

Before Harvest

  • Ensure previous data is stored on a PC or laptop and backed up to DVD or external hard drive. Use a logical naming system so that files can be easily accessed in future.
  • Clear old harvest data from header screens and memory cards. The longer data sits there, the more corrupted it becomes.
  • A-B lines, paddock names and boundaries, should ideally be stored on yield mapping software, so they can be reloaded prior to harvest once old data has been cleared off.
  • Pre-loading farm and paddock names saves time during harvest, reducing the likelihood of paddocks being incorrectly allocated.

During Harvest

  • Ensure the reel height sensor is set to an appropriate height. Too low prevents yield monitor from engaging, while too high keeps the monitor recording, even when nothing is being harvested.
  • The reel should be lifted when not actually harvesting, at headlands, the ends of runs, plus between paddocks. This reduces the amount of “dead data” thus improving data quality.
  • Paddock names should be changed on the screen when moving between actual paddocks
  • Select PADDOCK NAME and CROP TYPE when beginning a new paddock. Choosing the specific variety is less important, however these two are vital. Pre-loading the paddocks with crop types saves time and reduces mistakes.
  • If multiple headers are harvesting together but not all have monitoring capability, harvesting side-by-side allows extrapolation across alternate runs. This is much better for generating yield maps than having headers harvesting separate ends of a paddock.
  • Calibrating yield monitors by weighing a known area of harvested grain improves accuracy. If this cannot be done however, modern software allows for post-harvest calibration to be carried out, provided an accurate total of all grain harvested is available.
  • When powering down headers at the end of a shift, yield monitors should be allowed to fully shut down before pulling the isolation switch. This is particularly important for Massey Ferguson, Claas and Gleaner headers.
  • It is a good idea to check that paddocks are being mapped correctly after the first day or two. Loading data onto mapping software at the end of a shift, may seem a low priority in the middle of harvest, however it is better to find a problem with maps at the start and correct the issue than to finish harvesting with no useful data.

After Harvest

  • Transfer data files to a laptop or PC and create a separate backup file. Again, use a logical naming system. This is a relatively quick process and avoids loss or corruption of data.

Rural Management Strategies can be contacted if assistance is required in capturing and storing yield maps.