Banff (Rural Roots Canada) – We tend to make decisions based on our experiences and the information we have at hand. But, in between what we know and what we have experienced lies the potential for bias, which could taint our decision-making process. On the farm, that can cause problems.

Jeremy Boychyn, the Director of Agronomy and Extension at Alberta Grains, advocates for data-driven decision-making to remove any biases in farming. He stresses the value of its ability to mitigate biases and empower farmers with invaluable insights.

“When we implement data tools and do on-farm research, we end up getting yield, quality, and economic data. When we use that data, it takes out that space that could potentially be taken up by bias,” he asserts.

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Boychin explains how our biases can affect what we do on the farm.

“If we split a field in half, and we compare treatments, or products, or product versus no product, if we’re not using specific, measurable data, we’re more likely to fall into the category of visual, selective, or confirmation bias about what we may believe or don’t believe about a product or management practice,” he says.

“It’s important to use data to avoid falling into those traps of bias filling up the decision-making gap.”

The most significant bias that most people fall to, or fall under, is the “I’m not biased” bias. People don’t want to believe they have any biases and that they are good decision-makers. Boychyn points to evidence to the contrary.

“Statistically and scientifically, that kind of bias is prominent. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re above biases. It can have a big impact on the decisions you make. Using data can eliminate those biases.”

Integrating data into your farming practices enhances the accuracy of your decision-making process and opens up avenues for innovation and progress in agriculture. Relying on factual information and empirical evidence can result in more efficient, sustainable, and informed farming practices.

Boychyn spoke at this year’s Prairie Cereals Summit in Banff.

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