Questions and Agronomists Questions and Agronomists Questions and Agronomists

Q & A – Questions and Agronomists featuring Mike Palmier of MaxAg Consulting

December 2, 2021

It’s time for the second instalment in our ongoing series of conversations with Canadian Agronomists to find out how they’re using Climate FieldViewTM to make the most of their client’s data so they can make the most of their operation. We call it Q & A or Questions and Agronomists.

For this edition, we’d like to introduce you to Mike Palmier, owner operator of MaxAg Consulting, based out of Plenty, Saskatchewan. Mike grew up on a mixed cattle and grain farm outside of Lafleche, but he wasn’t always interested in agriculture as a career. But after a quick detour in journalism at university, Mike went home to help on the family farm, where he fell in love with farming. Cut to a second stint in university where he earned his degree in Ag Business and it’s been all ag all the time, since 2008.

Q: What was precision farming like when you started in the business?

A: I started in the industry in 2008 and at that point in time, there was a little bit of satellite imagery but we didn’t really use it. It just wasn’t very common. We knew it (precision farming) used a computer, email, and spreadsheets but at that point in time I’d never heard of a shapefile. Today it’s way different. Technology plays a huge role in what I do day to day versus when I started out.

Q: Can you look back to when you first thought it was something that could help the clients you work with?

A: The main reason I looked at FieldView was that I felt like we needed to do a better job of tracking what we were doing in the field. I wanted to be able to use yield maps to understand how the actions we took in season potentially impacted what our final result was. And that’s been great. But one of the other great things about FieldView and why I like it – is no matter what equipment that you run, as long as it has the capabilities, you’ll be able to connect to it. So with all of my customers, I was able to get their data into a single place.  

Q: Do you have a favourite FieldView feature or benefit?

A: At the end of the day, probably the maps. That may sound simple on the surface. I find my guys like to actually see FieldView in action, especially when they’re running through the field in real time. From there, they love to be able to split screen. With split screen – they can see a certain application that they did or maybe their variable rate maps that they’re using, or any of that kind of stuff – just to visually see as they’re going through with the combine. I find that resonates most with the farmers that I deal with.

Oh! And another thing I encourage my guys to do with FieldView is lots and lots of trials. They don’t have to be big trials. Maybe split some fields with varieties or herbicide applications between a couple different products just to be able to say, “OK what am I seeing for an impact here in crop?”. A lot of guys just want to do one thing and do it across their entire farm, but with the ability to better track what we’re doing using FieldView, there’s a lot that we could potentially learn.

Q: Can you think of a time when FieldView made a difference for a customer by providing an insight they may not have gotten anywhere else?

A: Yes! So, I had a field with a customer of mine this year with flax. I had a specific seeding rate recommended for that field. My customer was interested in doing a different rate. So we had part of the field with the one seeding rate and a second part with a higher seed rate. And with our dry conditions this year, higher seed rates typically did not fare very well, just with some inner role plant competition and whatnot. So we used FieldView to track the data at seeding. And then once harvest rolled around, we were able to use the yield map to extract the data very quickly. Even without building a field region, we could tell immediately that that the lower seeding rate was better. As soon as I saw the yield map, I knew one seeding rate had clearly outperformed the other.

Q: What would you tell a potential FieldView farmer who is on the fence on whether they should use it or not?

A: That’s an interesting question. A lot of the pushback that I see is guys ask “Okay, I collect the data. What am I ever going to use it for”? That’s actually a great question because honestly you don’t really know what you’re going to use it for until you need it. So, I tell them that throughout the season, you’re going to get those “Aha” moments that we weren’t anticipating. The only reason we were able to uncover those insights and solutions for a number of issues is because we were tracking it to begin with.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: Definitely. We’re getting to the point where there is less speculation on what works well and more proof. There’s always going to be a lot of unknowns in crop production. It doesn’t matter how much we track things, because there will always be unknowns. But with a tool like FieldView to rely on, it helps to prove over time that the agronomic practices we put in place can make our customers more profitable. And that’s what it’s really all about.