Q & A – Questions and Agronomists featuring Melody Robinson of Clark Agri-Service
May 20, 2021
Hello, and welcome to our newest feature Q & A, or Questions and Agronomists. It’s your chance to learn how Agronomists across the country are using the power of data and Climate FieldView™ to help their growers reach their growing goals.
This month, we sat down with Melody Robinson of Clark Agri-Service. Melody earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Guelph, before moving on to her Master in Weed Science. From there, she took a job as an agronomist assistant at DEKALB, before moving on to her current position as field agronomist, where she’s been working with her roster of growers for nearly a decade.
Q: Can you talk about your early exposure to FieldView and how you saw it could help your clients?
A: Sure. One of the big things for growers – especially the more progressive guys – they had modern equipment and they were collecting data, but had no way to utilize it. At the end of the season, they were printing out binders of maps and sticking them on a shelf and never looking at them. As we began to see the value in precision ag and tools like Climate FieldView, we began to encourage growers to collect this data for their own benefit.
Q: What is your favourite FieldView feature and why?
A:This is easy. The yield analysis portion is a life saver for my job. It has made doing plots, for example, so much better. In any given year, we might have somewhere between five and twenty different plots and that might be variety plots, it might be chemical plots, so if you’re able to go out into the field and drop pins where those plots are so that we can go back later in the season and monitor them or just easily grab that data from the combines, that’s really nice and effective.
Q: Do you have an example of a time where FieldView made a difference providing an insight that you might not have been able to get before?
A: Oh, I actually have a really good one for that. So, 2 or 3 years ago I had a grower who was using FieldView on his sprayer and he had made some chemical applications. We were walking the field after the soybeans had emerged and the headlands were totally fried [along with] a couple passes in the field, and we couldn’t figure out what had happened to these soybeans. When we finally talked to the guy who drove the sprayer, we pulled up his FieldView map from that and it was exactly where he had done a double application as well as put something in the tank that he wasn’t supposed to. The only way that we could figure out what happened was from having that FieldView record. It matched the area of the field that was totally fried off to a T.
Q: What would you tell a potential FieldView farmer who’s on the fence about whether they should try it or not.
A: The key argument I make when talking to a Farmer about using FieldView is how easy it is to get their data into one spot so they can view it at the end of the year. That way, if they’re able to hook it up to their planter or their air seeder etc. and input their varieties, like corn, soybean or wheat, they’ll have a record at the end of the season of what did better than what and which fields were most productive. That’s when I know FieldView has a customer for life.
Q: Can you talk about how historical data informs the decisions you help a farmer make?
A: One example I like to use is seed selection. We use the data growers are collecting with their planters to make seed decisions when we’re sitting down in the fall to decide on variety selection. Having that data with all the varieties has been super helpful. Because what we’ve found is that sometimes what a grower thinks is their best performing variety isn’t actually what is their best at all when you look at the data field by field. For me it’s definitely very helpful.
Q: How has precision farming and FieldView changed the way you work with farmers?
A: I have a good example. I run our scouting team here and when I first started here, we used to have – I’m looking at one of them right now – these three-inch binders where we would print out maps from Google Earth for each of our growers that I would give out to scouts at the beginning of the season. And that’s how we would go from field to field. Hopefully the map was clear enough but there were definitely times where we were guessing.
Having a digital platform like FieldView where a grower can say, “Hey I dropped you a couple pins where I want you to pull soil samples or tissue samples.”, has been incredible. I just go to the field where the farmer has dropped the pin and I can do my thing. No paper maps. No room for error. For me as an agronomist, that’s been super helpful.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Yeah absolutely. While things like FieldView are amazing, it’s just another way as an agronomist that I’m helping my growers succeed. We kind of become a part of a grower’s operation. Farming is their livelihood and then it’s also their job, right? So a lot of growers want to do the best job they can and you kind of become a tool for them. An integral part of their operation. And that means a lot.