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E-Luminate is free for Golden Harvest customers and is designed to help get the right seed in the right field.

Austin Keating, Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

September 24, 2019

3 Min Read
Mark Barnes, Stephanie Porter and Stephanie Smith
PLENTY OF CHOICES: Agronomists say increased profit comes from varying seed population and type. Pictured are Mark Barnes (left), Syngenta Seedcare specialist manager; Stephanie Porter, Golden Harvest Illinois agronomist; and Stephanie Smith, Golden Harvest agronomist.

The 2019 growing season shows workhorse crops had good performance on well-drained, quality soil, but if producers placed expensive high yielders on poor ground, they lost out. Ponding, staggered pollination, disease and other issues made for poor stands and poor return on investment.

Golden Harvest has a new tool, called E-Luminate, that’s designed to help them help customers pick the right seed for the hundreds of different soil conditions that exist.

“Once I know what your soil type is, I can use our seed selector tool and it’ll essentially grind through a bunch of data to say, ‘Here’s the best hybrid choice for that plot,’” says Todd Thumma, northern Illinois agronomist for Golden Harvest. “It doesn’t take into account any agronomics. All E-Luminate is taking into account is yield. So that’s not necessarily how we want to make our decisions. But it gives me a ranking and an idea of the direction we probably need to go.”

By January, growers will be able to work with their Golden Harvest seed advisers as they make selections. Advisers also will make prescriptions for varying hybrid type and population with E-Luminate for farmers who have variable-rate technology. Seed recommendations are drawn from performance comparisons across company trials, by year and region.

Further options help narrow decisions, such as Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera trait to protect against corn earworm, as does preparing for drought-like conditions by looking at dry-season hybrids.

In season, farmers have the opportunity to use the E-Luminate app to track their seed advisers checking conditions in their fields. Growers and seed advisers also receive Normalized Difference Vegetation Index imagery about every three days from E-Luminate.

“A grower picks up his phone and in nine seconds sees the seed adviser is in these three fields, and this is what they experienced, giving growers insight on things they should do in their operation,” says Justin Welch, Syngenta digital service manager, U.S. seeds.

Andy Heggenstaller, Syngenta head of agronomy, says the company thinks of E-Luminate as an all-included feature of its seed sales.

“It’s not a revenue stream strategy,” Heggenstaller says, contrasting with Climate and other services that cost a few dollars per acre. He says the free service is designed to help farmers get better performance from their products.

E-Luminate has been trialed by Thumma for five years. He says while many fields will be mostly a clean slate to the digital seed recommendation platform, that will change as recommendations increasingly draw on data gathered by E-Luminate on the farmer’s own field. Season over season, this will lead to more accurate assessments of potential hybrid performance.

In reflecting on a partnership Golden Harvest has with Precision Planting and its Pontiac research site, Thumma says he likes the idea of changing hybrids and population rates on the go.

“I can take all my data that I’ve been collecting over the years, and now I can actually apply it to the field on a large scale,” he says, concluding that variable hybrids and populations helped fields at the Pontiac site net $70 more an acre than one-hybrid, static populations fields. “It provides some pretty quick returns on investment to be able to change these varieties where we need to for optimal performance.”

About the Author(s)

Austin Keating

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

Austin Keating is the newest addition to the Farm Progress editorial team working as an associate editor for Prairie Farmer magazine. Austin was born and raised in Mattoon and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism. Following graduation in 2016, he worked as a science writer and videographer for the university’s supercomputing center. In June 2018, Austin obtained a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he was the campus correspondent for Planet Forward and a Comer scholar.

Austin is passionate about distilling agricultural science as a service for readers and creating engaging content for viewers. During his time at UI, he won two best feature story awards from the student organization JAMS — Journalism Advertising and Media Students — as well as a best news story award.

Austin lives in Charleston. He can sometimes be found at his family’s restaurant the Alamo Steakhouse and Saloon in Mattoon, or on the Embarrass River kayaking. Austin is also a 3D printing and modeling hobbyist.

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