Finding the ground truth about crop yields


Objective yield is one of a number of different indicators that help us set estimates for yield and production like that. For that, we are measuring the grain weight, the moisture content, the length and width of an ear of corn, and just a whole number of metrics like that surrounding a crop. And then that’s plugged into a statistical model, which then spits out an indication as to what the yield is per acre. For another survey we do, we will just flat-out ask farmers, “What do you think your crop is going to yield this year, if you get normal weather conditions from now until harvest?” 

The biggest change that technology brought to my job was when we were issued iPads, starting around 2013. We now have two or three extra days in every survey period, because we’re not depending on the mail or UPS to physically get our data to headquarters on time; they are sent digitally.One other great thing I will say about the iPad is that a lot of times if an enumerator enters the data wrong, it will send up a little red flag and tell them, “Hey, you made a mistake.” So that has helped us a lot too.