A three year case study of farmers’ use of yield monitors provides evidence that farm management specialists have a new opportunity to assist farmers who are conducting field-scale on-farm experiments, and in particular spatial analyses to determine if differences exist among production alternatives using yield monitors and other site-specific sensors. Many farmers test new varieties, products, or alternative systems on their own farms but case studies of farmers indicate an opportunity for farm managers and analysts to assist farmers in designing and implementing on-farm experiments, analyzing the vast amount of spatial data, and farm management decision making. Recent advances in spatial statistical analysis adapted from non-agricultural disciplines such as epidemiology, criminology, and geography allow appropriate analysis of on-farm experiment data collected with precision agricultural technologies.
In some cases, innovative farmers with the interest and aptitude may conduct their own analysis but in other cases, spatial analyses may be conducted in cooperation with Extension and the Land Grant System or the private agricultural industry. When the analyses are outsourced by the farmer, the advantages and disadvantages of public and private sectors are evaluated to ascertain the likelihood for farmer’s willingness to pay versus analyst’s willingness to accept for services. In addition, farmers have been inquiring as to who will assist them in the use of combine yield monitor data; and farm management specialists may develop this opportunity to be among the first in demonstrating the tangible benefits of the yield monitor.