Farmer are being challenged in every Northeast state to be more accurate in precision placement of manure. And now that real time kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation systems are field-ready, they're being analyzed for usefulness in manure applications as well as zone-till and strip-till corn.
At noon on Friday, Feb. 24, Rich Wildman, CEO of Agrinetix, a Rochester, N.Y., based precision ag consulting company will lead a program that will share first-year results of extensive on-farm trials of precision placement of strip-till planting and manure applications at the New York Farm Show. The session is free of charge and convenes in the Arts & Home Center's Bistro Room at the state fairgrounds in Syracuse. Case studies to be covered include:
Planting directly over the tillage zone using RTK guidance with sub-inch accuracy versus planting near it
Managing manure applications in no-spread zones using existing technology tools
Using precision ag equipment to maintain accurate manure/fertilizer records easily and efficiently.
About the project
In 2011, Cornell University, Agrinetix and Farmland Environmental's Agricultural Consulting Services embarked on a three-year on-farm study to assess return on investment of precision-controlled manure applications and zone-till corn planting. The project is funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant.
Agrinetix and ACS consultants spent the summer working with four central and western New York dairy farms with differing combinations of precision manure application systems. Equipment ranged from manually-steered Wide area augmentation system (WAAS) satellite guidance to hydraulic auto-steered RTK using the federal Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) GPS system. Manure applications ranged from truck spreaders to drag hose injections.
"Conventional spreading techniques depend on the operator to know where all hydrologically critical areas are," explains Wildman, "Dairy managers want tools to make sure manure doesn't get applied in no-spread zones and to avoid leaching or run-off."
"This research is to show how precision technology will make applications safer for the environment," adds the environmental engineer. "It's also to demonstrate the convenience for variable-rate spreading and automated record keeping of amount, place and time of application."
Planter tractors on another three farms were set up with differing guidance systems for zone-tilling and planting corn. Here, mechanical and hydraulic auto-steering were linked to RTK via base station or CORS.
Soil compaction, root mass and yield data are being evaluated, notes Wildman. The goal is to see if sub-precision placement achieves repeatable sub-inch accuracy and improves corn yields and silage quality. "We're measuring responses to corn in planted directly on the tillage slot using RTK guidance, four inches off the slot, eight inches off and planted without GPS guidance," says Wildman.
This is state-of-art technology that holds potential to tremendously boost yields and preserve environmental quality. And the costs are coming down, according to Wildman. Explore the potential at this mini-seminar at New York Farm Show.