One Byte at a Time: Agronomy Data Insights and Elephants

The origin story of the expression: how do you eat an elephant…one bite at a time, varies. With roots in an African proverb, we attribute versions of it to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and U.S. General Creighton Abrams, Jr. Over time, the concept of how to eat an elephant has been absorbed into our list of business aphorisms that help decision-makers take a one-step-at-a-time approach to planning and execution.

As agronomists and producers, we’re again planning for a new season and uncertain markets. We recommend bringing the one-bite-at-a-time, or in our case, one-byte-at-a-time, approach to your planning strategies. Even though it predates our contemporary technology, such an approach is perfectly suited for handling the challenge of too-much data. In fact, it can be the ideal guide for making sense of everything that’s coming at us as we plan for the future.


The data elephant

We are living in an age of data overload. Information is coming at us faster — and more accurately — than ever before. But data delivery happens much more quickly than we can synthesize and act on it.

Just because you have access to a wide range of information does not mean you need to act on every piece of data immediately.

Back to our elephant — you have access to an abundance of available data in the palm of your hand. This can create a sense of urgency; it can overwhelm you. And, if you forget the one-byte-at-a-time approach, it can hamstring your decision-making, even though you need it to do exactly the opposite.

Just because you have access to a wide range of information, including weather, historical data, crop health, soil quality, and more, does not mean you need to act on every piece of data immediately. Remember, the purpose of data is to give you insights to make smart, impactful decisions for your ag business. You can get customized detail reports with just the data and reporting you need, when you need it. Then, you can identify your priorities and set goals. Ultimately, the insights you gain from your data should help you achieve your goals with greater efficiency and impact.


Be agile

Start by adopting an agile approach to analyzing and applying ag data insights. Just like we take one byte of our elephant at a time, be agile in your ingestion of agronomic data. Make sure you have the right data intelligence tools to support an agile workflow. Think of it this way: agility is the antidote to being overwhelmed.


Interpret data

One of the key factors in data usability is interpretation. Interpreting data is the next byte to take out of the elephant. Once you identify what data points you want to zero in on; then, you can add the layer of interpretation to the stack of information in front of you.

For instance, if you are assessing data on crop growth, look at the historical aspects. Look at yield for a defined period. Then, bring in other relevant pieces of information, such as crop health and soil quality. Roll it all together to determine how to apply your findings to your decision-making. Fit that into the development of your overall strategy for the season.

Remember strategic success starts with gathering, filtering, and interpreting data to make smart decisions for your bottom line.

Insights power interpretation. They enable you to create crop growth models, set targets, and come up with a defined path for hitting those targets. For agronomists and producers alike, remember strategic success starts with gathering, filtering, and interpreting data to make smart decisions for your bottom line. These are our incremental bytes to apply insights to products, planting strategies, and overall sustained growth.

To plan effectively, start by identifying what it is you are planning for, what you intend to do, and what resources you need to reach the targets you set. This starts with a series of simple questions.

What to plan? Access to robust, accurate data and selection of the data to interpret set you up for the next step: planning. Let’s take planting preparation as an example. The right data and insights streamline decision-making around planting preparation. Armed with this actionable information, you can decide what, where, and when to plant.

For example, using an all-in-one agronomic solution, like DTN Agronomy, can help you build operational efficiencies by focusing on the right data intelligence to support your plans.


Look to the future

We have been examining data insights through the lens of planning for next season, but the beauty of insights is that they empower us to look much further ahead than that. And that is exactly how we take the next byte of the elephant. Building on the foundation that insights help us establish on the seasonal level, we can leverage data further to build a stronger future. This includes sourcing information to help determine how and when to market grain and support other strategic growth decisions.


Simplify the path to success

There is no doubt that there are some practical tensions between data availability and the application of insights. It is easy to get bogged down by the amount of information available to you. Beyond that, it can be challenging to determine what information is most relevant and actionable now and what to do with it.

As you analyze all the data in front of you, look at it as a gift. A big, elephant of a gift, and take one byte at a time. Analyze and interpret the most important pieces to meet the needs and goals you have prioritized. Then, use that data to support confident, informed decisions.

This is your foundation, a verifiable, testable foundation. Using actionable insights will ensure that it is solid. Once you see your next round of results, take the next step. Simplify your path to success by building on insights and a data-driven foundation.


Making data more digestible

DTN Agronomy can help you tackle your data elephant — from bag to bin. This complete solution quickly transforms every byte of field-level data into actionable insights, supporting smart, impactful decisions for your clients and your ag business. With it, you can plan more thoroughly and execute with greater agility and precision, which is vital given today’s challenging weather and market conditions. See more by requesting a brief tour of this award-winning solution.

Discover how DTN Agronomy can help you build a solid foundation and use data to drive success.


About the author

Leon Zinck is a senior solutions engineer at DTN and a trained agronomist. He holds a composite science degree from Wayland Baptist University and has over 30 years of industry experience, from consulting to chemical manufacturing and distribution to asset management in precision ag. Currently, he educates agribusinesses and producers on how to make the best field-level financial and logistical decisions. Zinck is a collaborative team member and a student of agriculture and technology.