Want to varying seed and fertilizer rates, but don't know how get started?
John Nowatski, North Dakota State University Extension precision farming specialist, says you're not alone.
Most farmers have variable rate controllers on newer air seeders and planters,and they have lots of yield map data, but they don't know how to put it all together.
You either have to dig in and learn how to do it yourself, or hire a consultant to help.
Kevin Hoerner, Bowdle, S.D., got help from one AgVenture/Scherr Seed, Roscoe, S.D.The regional seed company has a variable rate service called ProfiZone. They grid sampled Hoerner's fields for him. They used his yield and soil maps and other data to create high, low and medium productivity zones management zones within each field. They wrote prescriptions that called for varying nitrogen rates from 150 to 325 pounds and corn seeding rates from 24,000 to 30,000 seed per acre. They also created test plots -- called Learning Blocks -- within each management zone to gather data on how the different rates performed.
Then, they loaded the prescriptions into the variable rate controllers on Hoerner's planter and fertilizer applicator. They rode in the tractor with Hoerner and his father, Norbert, to teach them how to use the equipment. The Hoerner could call them anytime if they needed. During the growing season ProfiZone monitored the field and collected data. After harvest, they compiled the yield maps and analyzed crop performance.
With corn worth $5-$7 per bushel, Hoerner figures he needs an additional 3-4 bushels per acre to pay for ProfiZone.
See the January 2013 issue of Dakota Farmer for more information. You can find it online.