Precision Profile: Placing a Premium on Detailed Documentation of Planting and Yield Data
Name: Joshlin Yoder
Farm: Yoder Farms
Location: Leonard, Mo.
Size: 4,500 acres
Crops Grown: Corn and Soybeans
Precision Pain Point: More efficient crop insurance reporting with collected ag data
Placing a Premium on Detailed Documentation of Planting and Yield Data
Accurate in-field data adds off-farm value for Missouri farmer and crop insurance agent Joshlin Yoder on his family operation and for customers.
Whether it’s analyzing yield monitor data or as-applied maps of planting prescriptions, Joshlin Yoder has a diverse appreciation for the efficiency gains that come from collecting accurate farm information.
The third-generation farmer joined the 4,500-acre corn and soybean operation full-time in 2008, farming with his wife, Addie, father, Merlin, and brother, Jordan. Yoder has also carved out a successful career as a crop insurance agent, initially with a firm for 7 years and then his own business, Yoder Crop Insurance, established in 2021.
The family’s progressive investment in precision ag has allowed Yoder to broaden the benefits of detailed yield and acreage information to provide more accurate reporting for crop insurance.
When he started writing policies in 2014, Yoder says he didn’t have any customers who utilized farm data as part of their reporting. Most of the yield and acreage information he received was still based on notes farmers took during the season or their recollection of planting dates, seeding populations, and yield estimates.
While in-cab displays and yield monitors certainly weren’t new precision ag tools at the time, Yoder says one of the limiting factors in using farm data for reliable crop insurance reporting was the meticulous yield calibration requirements.
“Even five years ago, consistently calibrating yield monitors was an obstacle to getting reliable yield information,” Yoder says. “It’s not that the reporting rules are any less stringent today, but the capabilities of the technology to capture better data has improved to be more automated and accurate.”
Yoder estimates that about one-third of his clients now utilize yield monitor or grain cart data for crop insurance reporting, and as much as 50% submit acreage information based on planting data.
“We can take someone’s planting data and GPS data, plug it into the insurance reporting software and generate acres reports,” he says. “In most cases, it’s a far more efficient and accurate process.”
On their own farm, Yoder works with a local precision ag service provider, On Target Agriculture (see sidebar below), which exports planting data off their Ag Leader Technology InCommand 1200 display and uses Ag Leader’s SMS platform to compile location, date, and acreage data.
The Yoders also use Libra Cart’s weighing and data management software on their grain cart, which provides scale reports accessible on their tablet to review and upload for crop insurance reporting.
“It’s nice to centralize the information in one place vs. having to gather up settlement sheets from different grain elevators,” he says. “While we’ve never gone through a farm audit or review as part of the crop insurance process, having organized, detailed documentation is comforting to have handy.”
Yoder sees continued growth in the application of precision ag data in crop insurance reporting, and beyond. There are new geographic and crop-specific add-ons that farmers can add to their insurance policies and further reduce risk.
For example, a new USDA pilot program – Post Application Coverage Endorsement (PACE) – provides farmers who split-apply nitrogen with additional protection if weather prohibits them from making those secondary applications.
“There’s going to be some pretty stringent documentation requirements, and with the scope of application data collected today, this seems like an ideal scenario to utilize that information,” Yoder says. “Every year, crop insurance covers a specific event or scenario, and the documentation requirements won’t loosen up. But the advanced collection of precision data can give farmers an advantage and more easily and efficiently meet those requirement thresholds.”
Backing Up the Benefits of Data-Driven Reporting
While precision ag technology is simplifying data collection for farmers, many don’t have the time, experience, or patience to prepare the information. Jesse Schwanke, owner of On Target Agriculture in Leonard, Missouri, works with farmers, including Yoder Farms, to organize, analyze and apply on-farm data.
Crop insurance reporting is one of the ag data management services Schwanke provides and he’s seen more farmers embrace the opportunity to integrate planting and yield data into reporting requirements.
The biggest challenge, according to Schwanke, is automating the reporting process to the point of being able to trust the accuracy of yield data pulled directly from a yield monitor or grain cart. The reliability of yield data can still vary, depending on how vigilant or updated farmers are with their combine calibrations.
"We still see situations where we’ll need to track down those scale tickets or validate that yield monitor data,” Schwanke says. “Fully automating that reporting process might be something we’ll see in the future, but it’s not there yet.”
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