Colton Mills starts off every day by making a plan. The agronomist knows that if he’s organized and on top of the millions of data points that he and the teams at IN10T manage, “We can help our clients be successful.”
Mills focuses a lot of time on data processing, which, at its core, means pulling out meaningful insights from the information (plant health, disease pressure, field inputs, and more) that is regularly collected from field trials. “We are always working to stay on top of the data coming in and trying to get it pushed to the next critical touchpoint,” Mills says, which often includes reaching out to the farmer directly to check data discrepancies.
This process starts even before planting, by collecting field boundaries and ordering aerial imagery if necessary. Collecting planting data is next, which is one of the most important steps in the process. “Planting is really the first piece of critical information for a field trial,” Mills says. “Collecting and organizing that data well sets the tone for the rest of the season.”
As trials progress deeper into the season, additional datasets are fed into the platform, including fertilizer applications, herbicide/insecticide applications, and foliar-applied trial products. Many of these inputs influence how a product performs, so it’s especially important to manage all pieces of information even if the input isn’t directly related to the trial itself.
“Making sure we track and record information like nutrient management is just one example of a piece of the puzzle that we focus on throughout the year,” Mills says, adding that doing so helps deliver an accurate trial representation.
With so much data and data types at IN10T, it’s especially important to stay abreast of any unusual data and follow up directly with the farmer to ensure accuracy at every step.
Amy Dreith, Senior Project Manager at IN10T who partners with the agronomy team as she manages clients’ needs, says that she can often resolve most questions with a quick phone call to the farmer. “We have a lot of field information in front of us that gives us any number of insights, but there’s nothing quite like having a conversation about a farmer’s field,” she says.
Dreith’s own family manages a farming operation, and she recognizes the value of a good working relationship with key stakeholders. “I think it shows both our farmer and company clients that we’re here to ask questions and listen to what they have to say in order to deliver a quality experience.”
Mills agrees and adds that taking the time to learn the farmers and their fields helps ensure a more accurate understanding of product performance. “That personal interaction plays a key role in the way we do business. Technology is so important in agriculture, and it’s only getting more advanced,” he says. “But it doesn’t replace the people.”
Connect with Colton on email or Twitter to learn more about what he does as an agronomist at IN10T, and don’t forget to check out the rest of the IN10T team, too!