ways to improve our
operation. Often times this
comes in the way of
technological innovation. Our
most recent large scale change was moving
to a split nitrogen application. The theory behind
this principle is to use nitrogen more efficiently,
thus creating lower costs (and usage), higher
yields, and less excess run-off. The one pass
application in the fall is still very common. The
problem with a single fall application is the fact that
we know nothing about what the spring will provide.
If it is generally wet we would experience the leaching
of product in the draws and lower ground. However, if
it is generally dry we would experience deficiencies on
the hills. In both scenario’s you would either have to
over-apply or come up short on some soil types .
Applying “in season” allows us to cater to whatever
mother nature has brought us. In addition to using two
custom made side-dressing bars for “in season”
application, we have utilized the Greenseeker
RT200 System. This system verifies the
amount of the nitrogen the soil has
made available . This can vary on a
year-to -year or even farm-by-farm
basis. The system then gives
real-time vigor maps to the rate
controller and writes a nitrogen
prescription for the bar to deliver.
This allows us to apply the right
amount, in the right place, at the
right time with little to no
We also utilize geospatial soil
samples in 3 acre grids on all our
farms as a basis for fertilizer
application. With site-specific
management being implemented
on our farms, there is a need to
map the variability in nutrient
needs across the fields. Soil tests
measure the relative nutrient
status of the soils and are used as a
basis for profitable and
fertilizer application. These grid
sample maps are then used to serve
as a guide for variable-rate
application of crop nutrients.
We also have integrated auto-steer
systems for most applications in the
field. Our systems can be used on any
piece of equipment. They are versatile
and reliable but cost only about 18% of
the cost of a fully integrated system.
They require more calibration and time
to move from one piece to another.
However, We feel that the cost savings
outweigh the disadvantages on the
spend more time monitoring systems
and doing quality control checks. It
also cuts back on overlap and over
application. It greatly reduces operator
fatigue and allows us to work longer
Variable Rate Seeding
crop in order to more efficiently utilize
our inputs. Hydraulic drives on the planter
allows us to change the amount of seeds per acre
we are planting. We prepare prescription maps
based on soil type, fertility, and past yield data to
determine the rate. We then can use our
geospatial data to automatically change the seed
population on the go.
We have been yield mapping for over 7 years.
By yield mapping we are able to properly analyze
the large amounts of data that is created
throughout several years. Over the course of a
year we may have over seventy different test
strips. Our tests could include……planter depth/
down pressure/ population/ application speed/
hybrid comparisons/ tillage method/ nitrogen
rates/ starter fertilizer rates/ tillage depth/
chemical plans/ fungicide application/ foliar
nutrients/ field conditions/ residue
management/ timing of nitrogen application or
several other different variables. Our goal is to
use this information to make better decisions.
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The data helps us determine the best management
decisions for every acre. The information is also
integrated into our accounting software to create
reports on a farm by farm basis.
Integrated Management Software
We have been using a software program
called Farm Works for about four years.
The software allows us to bring all our
accounting information together with the
specific farms. We are able to track
supplies and inventories more closely. It
is a valuable tool that creates a better
understanding of every farms