Harvest is one of the most busy and stressful times of year on any arable farm. With new people on the farm, temperamental kit and long hours to contend with (not to mention the weather!) it pays to be prepared.
Here are our top 8 tips to help your harvest run smoothly.
1. Make sure people know where everything is
Harvest time means lots of new people(contractors, seasonal harvest workers) on the farm who aren’t familiar it. To avoid spending time explaining where each field is and how to get there provide a clear map with the names of all your fields and buildings and important information on how to get around. For example, on our farm we have ditches separating many of the fields rather than fences or hedges so it’s not obvious where the crossing points are and is useful to have them marked on.
With fieldmargin you can easily map all this information and then share with everyone in the team by inviting them to your farm (here’s how). People can then view the farm using the app on their mobile phone so you don’t have to worry about printouts getting lost.
2. Keep an eye on the weather
We hardly need to tell you this but what you might not have realised is that you can view the weather forecast for your farm right in the fieldmargin web app.
3. Don’t skip on checks and stay safe
The last thing you want is to be stuck in the field with a broken down machine (or worse) so make sure everything is serviced and ready to go. Don’t be tempted to skimp on morning servicing to get into the field. A $20 million problem resides in combine engine compartments, warns John Shutske of the University of Wisconsin.
Many combine fires are caused by dust build up or the failure of small moving parts so spending the extra time on cleaning and checks could make all the difference.
4. Create a plan using Field Jobs
Even if you can’t stick to it all the time having a plan will make you feel more in control and help to stay organised if things go awry.
Make a note of what order you will want to harvest in, thinking about when fields were drilled, how things will be organised in the store and areas that are prone to getting wet that could become impossible to travel on in poor conditions.
Set up field jobs to ensure everyone knows what the plan is so that when one job is finished they know what to move on to next.
5. Keep in touch with your team
With so many moving parts, communication is essential to keep things running smoothly.
Use comments on Field Jobs to keep everyone updated with important information such as moisture levels, how things are looking in the store, servicing progress or when you will need someone to come and pick up a load from the combine. You can even add photographs.
Make sure all your team has notifications turned on so everyone can keep in touch (read how here).
6. Record crop yields while you are in the field
No need to wait until you get back to the office to record your harvest data. Ensure accuracy by recording them and sharing them with your team as they happen. This will also reduce the time spent making phone calls to check in on progress and the time spend on administration updating records. Read how here.
Now you can view your field data from anywhere on your mobile device or computer. This comes in handy for any meetings with consultants, advisors or audits.
7. Monitor harvest progress with Field Health imagery
You can use field health satellite imagery to monitor harvest progress even when you are not in the field. Field Health imagery shows crop vegetation levels on the farm using NDVI analysis. Green shows high levels of green plant matter and red show low vegetation, dead plants or bare earth.
As crops senesce they will change from appearing as green to orange or red. This means that you can see harvest readiness for crops such as cereals.
Imagery is updated every week so you can see when crops have been harvested.
“The satellite maps work great for me. On each image, I can clearly see which alfalfa fields have been cut. With 7000 ha to manage the satellite imagery can be used to monitor the progress of the crop growth and harvest.”Jaco Theron, Farm manager, Arizona
8. Gather data for next year
This isn’t strictly going to have an impact on your harvest experience now but it could make a big difference to how you feel about next year’s.
If your combine harvester has yield mapping built in make sure that it is set up and correctly calibrated so that you can use the data to identify and quantify problematic areas of your fields that you can investigate over the coming growing season. Otherwise make notes as accurately as you can on your yield of each field and areas where you notice the crop looks poor.
When you record a yield fieldmargin automatically calculates your yield/ha and tracks your total yields per crop, per field and for the whole farm.
Yield graphs in reporting make it easy to identify high and low yielding fields across your farm. No need to deal with complex spreadsheets. This is valuable as you look ahead to the next season and consider what changes you might make to your cropping plans or treatments.
You can also upload your yield maps. Our Map Uploader tool allows you to take yield maps that you have of your farm and digitise them so that they can easily be referred to alongside your other farming records and be stored safely. These can be shared with everyone in your farm on mobile and web. You can also add notes to annotate the reason behind any low yielding areas or to suggest treatments for next season.
Yield Recording is available on our Essentials plan (£9.99/month) and above. You can find more information on our pricing and plans here.
You can also find out more about our feature on our website www.fieldmargin.com
Did we miss something? If you’ve got tips on how you make your harvest as easy and safe as possible we’d love to hear from you. Share your suggestions in the comments down below or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.