September 5, 2017
Starting this fall, growers in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota have access to new capabilities with the next evolutionary line of Wheat Growers' MZB Precision Farming System.
Recently, Central Valley Ag, Wheat Growers, Landus Cooperative and Winfield United announced a joint venture to help bring proven tools and multiple data layers together under this platform. The platform, FieldReveal brings together data layers like yield history, soil maps, aerial imagery like normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and soil electrical conductivity (EC) to help service providers work with growers to build prescriptions — all while accounting for yield goal and input costs per acre.
"In a lot of ways, FieldReveal works just like the background programs we've used in Advanced Cropping Systems (ACS) for years and years," says Keith Byerly, ACS Manager at Central Valley Ag. "What changes is our ability to be more transparent and be a lot quicker in our turnaround times."
Byerly adds the new cloud-based platform makes it easier to move data back and forth between different application program interfaces (APIs) without double entry. This way, a grower can request a sample on a farm, and the service provider can dispatch a sample, collect the information and use it to build a prescription without having to enter information twice. Because the system is tied into CVA's soil lab, Byerly notes as soon as soil test results are available, the sales agronomist can work with the results to determine a prescription and get the information back to the grower.
"For our agronomists, anywhere we can access the cloud, we can access whatever we need for or with the grower," Byerly says. "It also integrates fully into our dispatch system, bypasses back and forth without double entry, and flows information right into our accounting system."
That is, the system accounts for the grower's yield goal and input costs on a per acre basis and helps find the right prescription based on those parameters.
Meanwhile, the FieldReveal mobile app gives growers 24/7 access to their field's information from their smartphone or tablet, which they can also use to feed data into the program.
With traditional zones in CVA's old system, Byerly notes users were limited to soil maps and aerial imagery. But with the new platform, the grower and service provider have access to new data layers with advanced zones, including EC maps and historical yield data.
"It gives us all of that information we need to define yields zones for variable-rate seeding and variable-rate nitrogen prescriptions. But beyond that, it's one of the few platforms out there that gives us the ability to write multi-hybrid prescriptions, change hybrids and rates to get the information to the grower in a timely manner," Byerly says. "Because we're tied into Winfield's R7 tool, we've got the seed information from all of Winfield's Answer Plot locations."
One of the goals behind the joint venture is greater transparency and clarification in the data management process, Byerly says.
"Precision ag as a whole has acted in a kind of black box mentality. Before, there were a few people that turned this information into prescription maps, and nobody understood the process," says Byerly. "Now, transparency is such an important thing. This back corner mystic idea doesn't really work as a business model anymore. We have to have this system down to where the agronomist, the customer, everybody understands how we get to the final decisions and why we do what we do."
About the Author(s)
Editor, Wallaces Farmer
Tyler Harris is the editor for Wallaces Farmer. He started at Farm Progress as a field editor, covering Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. Before joining Farm Progress, Tyler got his feet wet covering agriculture and rural issues while attending the University of Iowa, taking any chance he could to get outside the city limits and get on to the farm. This included working for Kalona News, south of Iowa City in the town of Kalona, followed by an internship at Wallaces Farmer in Des Moines after graduation.
Coming from a farm family in southwest Iowa, Tyler is largely interested in how issues impact people at the producer level. True to the reason he started reporting, he loves getting out of town and meeting with producers on the farm, which also gives him a firsthand look at how agriculture and urban interact.
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