Focus on Data Quality, Not Quantity

Brody McCauley
Wisconsin Answer Plot Research Manager
“Data” seems to be the buzz word in agriculture lately, with new agriculture startups launching daily to provide more information for farmers. But maybe more data isn’t what we need. It’s time to focus on quality data that leads to profitable decisions. Here’s how we’re doing that with the Answer Plot® program.
 
  1. Cause and effect or correlation? There’s a big difference between correlation and causation. We have nearly 200 Answer Plot testing locations across the U.S. where we’re able to replicate our trials. We’ve generated more than 6 million data points from the Answer Plot program, and each data point has been statistically analyzed to help us deliver reliable, consistent insights to improve farm profitability. Our dedicated analysts help us decipher the data to make sure what we’re seeing is real, not just correlation.
 
  1. You get what you give. If a trial protocol is flawed by design, or if the execution of the trial is botched, data integrity is compromised. The old saying “garbage in, garbage out” applies to data as well. Our Answer Plot teams are committed to limiting variability in our tests by placing trials on the most uniform soils possible. We follow pre-established protocols for all processes, from how we get the seed into packets for planting to our quality control of data points. 
 
  1. We’re all human. Human error is one way data integrity is compromised. We’ve tried to limit the introduction of human error by employing as much technology as possible to help improve our accuracy. For example, we use ArcMap GIS to manipulate and create all plot maps. And Trimble GPS guidance systems read those maps when we’re planting, applying fertilizers and crop protection products, and harvesting. Using pre-mapped files, we can accurately place each seed and apply each treatment using technology, which helps reduce human error.
 
The Answer Plot program is a valuable resource for farmers because you can be confident that you’re getting quality data that has been collected using established protocols and analyzed using sound statistics. To learn more about the data we’re collecting, visit AnswerPlot.com or contact your local WinField United retailer.
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