The power of gathering soil data
Blair Ferguson sat down with Soil Scout's VP of International Sales, Adam Sedgwick to chat about the importance of data collection.
Gathering data and having the ability to use it are two very different things. As a company, we can preach to you about getting efficiencies, savings, and working sustainably, but we need to be proactive and provide education.
It doesn't matter if you're using Soil Scout sensors, handheld data collectors or a weather station. In my view, we all have an obligation to explain the data and what a powerful tool it can be on many levels.
So, at the moment, you've got in-ground sensors like ourselves, handhelds, soil sample information and weather station data. So four different blocks of information giving you four different blocks of decisions to make.
Year One and Year Two Data
By having the data warehouse and being able to overlay these patterns and trends, you can then make a better decision like could I have reacted 12 hours earlier, could I have reacted at a lower moisture percentage, was the temperature right? Even as far as decisions for open and closed days.
We are a platform where we can pull your weather, handheld and sensor data together to make it easier for you to see. You can look at it overlayed with each other, leading to three bundles of better decisions.
So, your first bundle of decisions will be your primary decisions, so you can immediately make changes on things like your irrigation usage if you run a Sub Air system or undersoil heating. Its things where you can look at what's happening. Even if it's just a weather station, you can make an informed decision on what you're already doing.
Your second bundle of decisions will be your input timings, whether that be nutrition, pesticide choice or temperature readings for ideal germination.
The most important thing for me as data providers is that all of us are giving you the ability to build a data warehouse and make better decisions in year two. So, in year one, you're getting the information for primary and secondary decisions. In year two, you've got the ability that I call a slide rule event where you know what each of these tools is giving you, you know what the weather did, you know the action you took, and you know what the outcome was.
The big thing is graphs rather than numbers. The numbers give you an immediate choice for what you can do right now, but seeing patterns in an overlayed graph is where you immediately see the visual impact.
Once your data warehouse is established, it's down to you to make the information valuable. A common focus is on sustainability and the use of water. We are in a world that is running out of water, and as a green industry, the onus is on us to regulate our use.
My opinion is that if, as an industry, we are monitoring and using data better, we will have evidence of what we're doing and why we're doing it. With that we are going to be managing our moisture levels better. This will improve the soil and prevent the leeching of nutrients into the watercourses below because effectively, whether it's a football pitch or a golf green, they are all giant drains, and that water has to go somewhere.
The sustainable approach is if we're monitoring moisture levels better and monitoring temperatures and salinity levels better when we're applying nutrients or pesticides, the uptake by the plant will be improved.
So you're getting more value for your money from other products, not only ours. And at the same time, it increases the sustainable footprint of the property. If governing bodies, water authorities, or other associations see that as an industry, we're doing things better as the world water crisis worsens, and it will, it gives them less reason to apply such strict sanctions on us when it comes to restricting water usage.
Peace of Mind
One aspect of live data collection I want to make people aware of is peace of mind. Greenkeeping is a high-pressure long hour industry. A lot of people will go home at night worrying about the course, and at the most difficult times, it can even keep them up at night.
If you've got information in your hand 24/7, you've always got that picture to know what's happening on your property. You know, if you're away, your team are doing the things you've left them and the plan is being followed.
You can find out more about the Soil Scout system by downloading the Soil Scout Solution Description here