Produced by Communications and Marketing, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2009
Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion,age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University,and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Rick D. Rudd, Interim Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, VirginiaTech, Blacksburg; Alma C. Hobbs, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
Interpreting Yield Maps – “I gotta yield map - now what?”
Robert “Bobby” Grisso, Extension Engineer, Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech Mark Alley, Professor, Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia TechSteven Phillips, Assistant Professor, Soil Science, Eastern Shore AREC, Virginia TechPhil McClellan, MapTech, Inc., Blacksburg, VA
Yield monitors are the rst step many producers takeinto the age of precision farming. While their cost isreasonable, the commitment of time and resourcesrequired to effectively use this technology is signicant.A yield monitor, combined with Global Positioning Sys
tem (GPS) technology, is simply an electronic tool thatcollects data on crop performance for a given year. Themonitor measures and records information such as cropmass, moisture, area covered, and location. Yield dataare automatically calculated from these variables.
Yield monitors come with various technical designs andfeatures; however, yield monitors alone do not generatemaps (see VCE Publication 442-502, Precision Farm
ing Tools: Yield Monitor). The goal for properly inter
preting yield data is to provide answers to the question;“how can I increase prots on this eld?” Yield datamust be combined with mapping software and posi
tional data to produce a colorful map showing varia
tions in grain yield and moisture.Some considerations to be made when purchasing yield-mapping software include: system specications, soft
ware installation and support, data handling, and mapgeneration quality. The software/data should be com
patible with newer versions or technologies as they aredeveloped. Yield maps of the same eld from differentmapping software companies can look very different.
However, colorful maps are not knowledge.
If thesemaps are to be of any real value, data generated fromthem must be incorporated into the decision-making,analysis, and overall planning process of the farm opera
tion (see VCE Publication 442-500, Precision Farming:A Comprehensive Approach). The rst step in generat
ing and interpreting a useful yield map is deciding howthe map will be presented.
Presenting Yield Maps
The selection of yield ranges and color schemes to dis
play yield map data and accompanying legends greatlyinuences a map’s aesthetic appeal, quality, and utility.The three most critical aspects for proper presentationof crop yield data include:1. Data aggregation – the method used to group thedata into yield ranges2. Number of ranges – the appropriate number of dataintervals to display on the yield map3. Color scheme – the colors that best distinguish datawithin the yield rangesEach of these factors is explained in detail below:
- The four main methods of dataaggregation include:1. Equal count - divides the data so each of the dataranges contains approximately the same number of points; however, the width of the ranges will usuallyvary2. Equal interval - ranges are evenly spaced, but thenumber of points in each range will vary3. Standard deviation – creates ranges above and belowthe overall mean in units equal to the standard devia
-tion of the entire data set and the additional ranges
are assigned until all of the data are included in theoutlining data range