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Monsanto expands Prescriptive Ag Solutions program


For 2011, the program, which began as a pilot with about 2,500 participants in 2010, will be available on a broader -- though still limited -- basis across the Midwest. The program is expected to be more broadly available for the 2012 planting season.

“Today, farmers are looking for advances in seed technologies and precision planting practices that will enable them to produce more, conserve more and remain profitable,” said Julie LaBonte, Monsanto Prescriptive Ag Solutions business manager. “Monsanto is focused on helping farmers double their yield output in major crops by the year 2030. Along with our elite seed genetics and broad biotechnology traits pipeline, we believe Prescriptive Ag Solutions will help us attain that goal.”

The Prescriptive Ag Solutions program includes two elements -- IntelliScan field guides and IntelliSeed custom planting recommendations.

The IntelliScan field guides include detailed field maps designed to provide valuable insights into field-specific growing conditions, according to Steve Riewerts, a Prescriptive Ag Solutions remote imagery expert, whose company, Earth Map Solutions, was purchased by Monsanto in 2008. Maps currently include aerial imagery, a soils map identifying key soils and fertility zones and a proprietary green biomass index map that shows the health and vitality of crops grown the two most recent growing seasons. Eventually, biomass index maps may be available for a half dozen or more growing seasons, which will allow growers to analyze long-term trends, field by field.

“When you look at the green biomass index map, you can see parts of the field that aren’t doing as well as others,” says Riewerts. “It is a great scouting tool.”

IntelliSeed custom planting recommendations include harvest yield maps that use sophisticated algorithms to remove skips, overlaps and other extraneous data from a grower’s yield maps, as well as planning maps with specific hybrid and planting recommendations. Growers interested in variable-rate seeding also can receive smart data cards containing variable-rate planting prescriptions based on management zones identified by the IntelliScan field guide.

IntelliScan and IntelliSeed are the first steps toward a complete Prescriptive Ag Solutions program that includes technologies and collaboration expertise from industry leaders aimed at more efficiently delivering information, says LaBonte.

"Through initial work with John Deere, Raven and SST Software, Monsanto is developing precision ag tools that will more efficiently deliver information to the grower in a more useful manner, whether that is custom field guides or information sent directly to the equipment in the field," she says. "Industry collaboration is a necessity for progress and we’re excited about the potential of this program.”

New IntelliScan field guides will be available on a limited basis for the 2011 growing season, with broader availability expected by 2012, according to Riewerts. IntelliSeed custom planting recommendations will be available on a limited basis for 2011 for a select group of pilot participants, with broader availability expected in 2013.

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