How to put data to good use using margin maps in Gatekeeper

noun / deɪ.tə /
information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision-making, or information in an electronic form that can be stored and used by a computer.

Visit almost any UK farming business and most tractor units will be equipped with GPS controllers capable of variable application of seed and fertiliser. Along with yield monitors on combines, there is plenty of data to capture. But, what to do with it all?
Well, as the very definition of data suggests – collect it, examine it, consider it and use it. Farmplan’s Gatekeeper software can help you every step of the way.

Collect it
The first thing to do is bring all the data together. It is often forgotten, or not realised, that a good deal of time can be saved recording field operations by importing the documentation from the in-cab controller. Tasks that are imported into Gatekeeper will automatically complete the work record at the same time as providing a spatial record of where the job was completed.

Examine it
As each piece of data is imported, Gatekeeper will automatically start creating margin maps for each field. The program already knows the value of a product and from the work records (spatial or flat rate) it knows where a product has been applied or harvested. Each job is layered over the top of the last to create a margin map. This appears as a typical contour map, but displays highly valuable information. This includes how much has been spent where and how much profit has been made on each and every part of the field.

Consider it
Time is a limiting factor for all of us. With effectively designed routines and a certain amount of discipline, time doesn’t need to be a barrier to collecting data. One of Farmplan’s clients in the West Midlands uses Gatekeeper for a few hours a week to manage all field operations via his John Deere GS controller. This includes all task management, not just the variable applications, in addition to managing 1,300ha of arable land (including a good deal of time on the Sprayer seat). Good management of data will result in accurate, reliable information that can build analytical maps. This in turn can bring valuable insight into field and farm performance.

Use it
A Gatekeeper client in the North East also manages all tasks through the Gatekeeper Devices module. Through this, he can import all variable rate applications, yield data and his SOYL sampling/scanning data. Using the margin map feature in Gatekeeper, he identified areas in a number of fields that were costing money, rather than making any. As a result, a large pond was dug in one of these areas. By taking this area out of production, he not only saved on costs, but increased the productivity of the surrounding fields.

Haven’t got time to look field by field? It’s all about using the system intelligently and combining the features. This is where the Geoanalysis feature in the Farm Mapping module comes in to play. Queries can be set up to provide quick visual insights and if you have multiple years of yield data, Gatekeeper can create normalised variation maps. The maps provide yield performance over a number of years, but instead of presenting this information in tonnes per ha, the data is displayed as a percentage of the fields average performance. This can be done over multiple years and crop types.

The maps can be run across whole blocks of land to spot areas of concern. Once identified, these areas can be further investigated using a combination of historic yield data and Margin Maps. So, with a combination of planning, good management of data and utilising some of the key features of Gatekeeper, it is finally possible to put some of that data you have been collecting to good use.

Find out more about our Gatekeeper software by clicking here.


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