Stewart Seeds employed an interesting twist at their farmer-customer meetings recently. Using an electronic handheld polling system, the company asked questions and posted the answers on a computer screen for all to see in seconds.
"We thought it was neat technology and worth trying out," says Brian Denning, an agronomist with Stewart Seeds. The Stewart Seed Company is based near Greensburg.
Denning notes that while the results may be skewed slightly, the trends are interesting.
"Some of the younger, more aggressive customers don't always come to meetings," he says. "Their answers may have been different."
Still, based on the crowd at the meeting, it appeared that there was a fairly representative diversity of age groups in attendance. Still, these results aren't intended to be scientific by any means. View them and determine if you agree with the trends found at the meetings or not.
These results present here are a summary from all the customer meetings where they asked the questions, Denning says.
Question: Is your planter capable of variable rate planting?
The answer came out at 25%, showing the technology is gaining traction, but still isn't something everyone can do. Denning says other information he's seen indicates that the actual number of farmers with planters able to vary the rate nationally may be closer to one in three.
Of those who had variable rate capability, about two-thirds said they planned on using it in 2013.
Those results would seem in keeping with anecdotal evidence from other meetings during the winter season. Several people who have tried varying corn seeding rate no longer do because they haven't seen a seed savings or yield increase. However, some still vary prescriptions based on management zones and soil types.
Those that report the best results claim they vary soybean seeding rates, lowering the rate on dark soils and raising it on lighter, sloping soils.