How many times have you gone looking for a file/map that you know you have, but aren’t where you’d expect it to be? If you’re like me, it’s more often than you care to admit. Data management has become a very important part of running a business and when done properly can save you time and money. Data management isn’t something you do on a weekend in the off season. It is an ongoing process that takes a lot of time to maintain but needs to spread out over the entire year. By being consistent and combining similar data into folders as you go through the season you will be able to maintain a clean, organized structure that makes finding data a breeze. Here are some of the things I find to be important in managing your data well.
Being dedicated to consistently naming files and folders is the most important rule in my opinion. It allows you to take advantage of a few things. First of all, I’m sure you’ve noticed that files are automatically sorted in a certain order; punctuation first, then numbers, followed by letters. Knowing this allows you to group files based on their name. By naming files with a common descriptor first followed by the rest of the name, such as “Boundary Home Qtr” or “Boundary Field 2016”, causes all your boundary files to be grouped together at or near the top of the field folder. If you want yield data to be grouped by crop, list the crop first in the name and if you want it grouped by year the same applies.
These practices also apply to your LiDAR, County Data, and Imagery folders. Labeling them in a way that makes it easy to find the data helps to avoid mistakes, especially in regard to imagery projections. Including UTM zone numbers in a folder name or file name can be extremely useful when working in areas that are near a UTM zone line. Clipping your Landsat images down to the county level can greatly simplify finding images that cover a field, as well as potentially increasing the number of images available depending on the field’s location.
Another rule of thumb that I go by is avoiding the use of special characters in file names, for instance, no slashes for 1/4 (label as qtr) or apostrophe in Bill’s (labeled as Bills.) In general, underscores and dashes are acceptable, but that’s about it. Little things like special characters can go as far as causing problems when loading a prescription into a controller, so it’s just easier to avoid them all together.
Creating folders within a field folder to consolidate multiple years of data is another way to keep field folders organized and “uncluttered.” You may also want to use certain categories for names. The best part is that they all begin with a letter that will put them at or near the bottom of the data tree in ADMS.
-VRT – for prescriptions
-Xtra Data (spelled this way so that it is placed near the bottom of the data tree in ADMS)
Most importantly, find a logical way you would like things organized and stick with it.
ImageAnother tool for keeping organized is by using the Notes button in ADMS at the Grower, Farm, or Field (GFF) levels. Documenting crop types, fertilizer products, rates, and any unique circumstances that may have taken place and had an impact on decisions are just a few things that may be worth noting.
Up until the past few years, I had never used the search box in windows explorer and I am quickly realizing how useful it can be. Say I receive a request for creating zones for 20 fields and once I am finished I need to zip them up in a folder and email them to the client. Rather than having to go into each and every field folder to copy the completed zone map, I type into the search box “Zones 2018.tif” and since I consistently labeled all of the zone files the search brings up a list of all 20 zone maps from which I can select all the zone files all and copy them to a folder labeled as containing 2018 zones, which I can then zip up and send in an email.