Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

Enhance Your Variable-Rate Fertility on Wheat

Chris Heidrich
Are you looking to boost the yield and ROI potential of your wheat crop? If so, more intense, targeted nutrient management in areas where it will be most effective could help you push your crop to the next level of bushels per acre and protein content. Here are some tips to help you optimize fertility in your fields.
 
1. Start with a soil sample.
Zone soil sampling can give you valuable information about nutrient variability in your wheat fields and, depending on your region, can be more cost-effective than grid sampling. Talk with your local trusted advisor about getting soil samples now prior to freeze-up and snow cover.
 
2. Choose the right varieties.
Ask your advisor how the Characterization Charts (CHT Tool) function of the R7® Tool can help you choose the wheat varieties that will best meet your production goals. High management on varieties with high response-to-population, response-to-nitrogen and response-to-fungicide scores can help you boost both yield and quality potential at harvest. If you do choose a high-management variety, work with your agronomist to time input applications appropriately.
 
3. Manage by zones.
Establishing yield goals by zones is critical to help determine how much fertility you need to apply in each area. Work with your advisor next season to use satellite imagery, prior year crop removal and past yield results to set yield goals for each management zone on your operation with the R7 Tool.
 
4. Pay attention to nitrogen and sulfur.
These macronutrients play important roles in wheat development and in quality and protein content at the end of the season. If your nitrogen-to-sulfur ratios are optimal late in the season, you have a better chance of achieving the protein and quality levels you desire. A number of farmers use variable-rate split nitrogen, which is an application of nitrogen at the beginning of the season, with another at flag leaf or post-flowering for a protein boost.
 
5. Look at the data.
In 2015, 2016 and 2017, my colleagues and I performed side-by-side variable-rate and static-rate checks on farms in western North Dakota and eastern Montana where variable-rate fertility applications were being performed on wheat for the first time. These were not scientific trials and there was no attempt to replicate the trials. The objective was to give farmers some perspective on how variable-rate fertility applications could potentially impact yield in their fields.
 
As we compiled yield data from the trials, we found crops that received variable-rate treatments outyielded the static strip by an average of nearly 4 bushels per acre.*
 
Selecting the right varieties, getting population right, doing variable-rate nutrient applications, and using technology to detect disease and weed pressures can help you give your wheat crop the level of management it deserves. And help you reach the goals you want to achieve. 
 
 
* Source: 2015–2017 customer field trials (52 locations in Montana and North Dakota). Because of factors outside of WinField United's control, such as weather, applicator factors, etc., results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by WinField United. Actual results may vary.
 
© 2018 WinField United. R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.
 

Plan Now for Better Nutrient Management

Kyle Gustafson
Agronomist, WinField United
If you’ve made tissue sampling a priority this season, you probably have a pretty good understanding of how your nutrient management program fared. You can use what you learned this season to develop a solid nutrient management strategy for next year. Proactive planning can help alleviate pressure when in-season challenges limit nutrient availability. Here are some tips to get started.
 
Identify nutrient uptake issues. Comparing nutrient levels in plant tissue with the nutrient levels in soil is a great way to understand how effective plant nutrient uptake is. In South Dakota, soils may test adequate for zinc, but tissue sampling will frequently reveal the micronutrient is deficient in the crop. This suggests the need for multiple forms of zinc that are delivered in a plant-available form. Knowing this, we can experiment with different fertilizer rates or formulations to help improve plant uptake.
 
Capitalize on top-end yield. With tissue sampling data, we can critically evaluate how to improve nutrient application, rate and formulation to increase uptake. For example, if tissue samples consistently show a nitrogen deficiency in V6 corn, your crops may benefit from a split nitrogen application. Adjusting nitrogen application timing could be just what your hybrids need to reach their high-end yield potential.
 
Identify management zones. Using technology such as the R7® Tool, you’re better able to identify areas with varying productivity potential and manage those areas independently. You can take tissue and soil samples from different areas to gain a better understanding for why each zone has high or low yield potential. From there, your agronomist can assist in developing site-specific fertilizer recommendations to address each zone’s nutrient issues.
 
Build a better plan. Many nutrients, such as phosphorus and potassium, have a limited ability to be corrected in-season once deficiencies occur. Using historical data, we can proactively build better nutrient management plans to limit the risk of deficiencies in-season.
 
Tissue sampling is a great way to boost your operation’s productivity and save on input costs. While this season is still fresh in your mind, take advantage of the opportunity to revisit your 2018 tissue sampling results to begin building a solid nutrient management foundation for 2019. You’ll likely find ways to increase productivity and potentially cut input costs by using a critical eye to analyze data. 
 
To learn more about how to use tissue sampling to build a better nutrient management plan, contact your local WinField United retailer.

Farmer Stories: Answer Plots Help Farmers Take Advantage of Tech

WinField United
Agronomy Team
As we reflect on the past 20 years, one thing that amazes us is how far agriculture technology has come. From traited seed to remote sensing, it’s clear that staying on top of the latest advances in agriculture can be a daunting task for most farmers. When we design Answer Plot® events, one goal is to ensure farmers are aware of the latest technology and resources available to help them grow their businesses. A visit to an Answer Plot event may help you navigate ever-changing ag technology tools.
 
Capture opportunities
Michael Corderman, a corn and soybean grower in Armstrong, Iowa, says staying on top of technology makes him a better farmer. He’s attended Answer Plot events for several years for the progressive insights that are shared.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0005_-Times-are-changing-so-fast-in-today-s-world-that-you-ve-got-to.jpgOne of technology opportunities Michael discovered at an Answer Plot event could help him get more grain to market.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0006_-The-R7-Field-Forecasting-Tool-is-a-great,-great-product-I-m.jpgTechnology like this helps farmers allocate their resources to make their dollars work harder.
 
Finding Answers at Answer Plots
But, using the technology is just one part of the equation. Knowing how to process the information that the technology supplies and apply it in practical ways is another hurdle farmers face. That’s where Answer Plot events can help. We demonstrate new technology, but we also help digest the data to reveal what impact it will have on your farm.
 
John Preussner of Dundee, Iowa, recalls the first Answer Plot event he attended 14 years ago.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0007_-I-remember-at-that-meeting-I-actually-stood-up-and-said,-‘Am-I.jpgLike Michael, John has also found opportunities on his farm by using technology tools, namely the Characterization Charts (CHT) tool within R7.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0008_-This-tool-just-has-so-much-data,-and-it-s-broken-down-by-soil.jpg
He uses the information to place different hybrids on his farm as a way to help manage risk. John is confident in the data because it’s replicated over many environments and under different production practices.    
 
Take advantage of new opportunities that are waiting to be found on your farm. Talk with your local WinField United retailer about visiting an Answer Plot location before harvest gets underway.

4 Ways to Leverage Tissue Sampling Insights in the Off-Season

Corey Evans
Technical Seed Manager
The majority of farmers who choose to take tissue samples are looking for in-season insights to help them fine-tune their fertilization programs. But tissue nutrient analysis can also tell you a lot about your production practices and identify changes that can be made to improve productivity. Here are four ways you can use tissue sampling results in the off-season to make changes to your management practices.

1. Soil and tissue analysis comparison can reveal potential problems. When used together, soil and tissue testing can help you identify potential issues in your field. For example, if soil analysis reveals you have ample nutrients present but tissue testing shows that they aren’t being taken up by the plant, that’s an indication that there may be issues with root growth caused by compaction, environmental conditions or shallow planting.

2. Tissue sampling helps calibrate the Field Forecasting Tool. The R7® Field Forecasting Tool (FFT) delivers more accurate results as new information is added to the model. The tissue sampling results from the NutriSolutions® app can be automatically fed into the FFT and can help estimate yield potential in-season. The model can also be used in the off-season to help establish management practices for the future that can reduce the gap between the forecasted yield and the actual yield.

3. Evaluating nitrogen trends can help with seed selection. If you find your plant nitrogen levels are often trending low, you might choose to be more aggressive with your nitrogen applications. But if you’re looking to maintain input costs, an alternative would be to place a hybrid that has a low response-to-nitrogen score on those acres in the future, knowing that nitrogen could be limiting.

In 2017, we tested 210 hybrids at our Answer Plot® locations and found 36 percent were highly responsive to nitrogen, 45 percent were moderately responsive and 19 percent were less responsive to nitrogen. Across the tested hybrids, there was a 39.5- to 97.2-bushel-per-acre yield response gradient, illustrating the vast differences genetics can have on nitrogen utilization in plants.

4. Choose the right seed if zinc comes up short. If tissue sampling trends reveal an early-season zinc shortage, consider using CROPLAN® corn hybrids on your acres. All CROPLAN hybrids are treated with Advanced Coating® Zn seed treatment. By coating seeds with zinc, Advanced Coating Zn promotes quick emergence, even in cool, wet conditions, and it helps establish strong, healthy stands. In nearly 180 Answer Plot program test plots over three years, corn treated with Advanced Coating Zn seed treatment averaged an extra 2 bushels per acre.
Don’t put your tissue sampling results on the shelf once you’ve used them to make in-season decisions. Evaluating nutrient data in the off-season can help you develop a more comprehensive crop management plan that includes mapping out management zones and choosing the right hybrids and seed treatments based on what nutrient trends are showing. Work with your WinField United retailer to put your tissue sampling results to work in the off-season.
 
Advanced Coating®, Answer Plot®, CROPLAN®, NutriSolutions®, R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinFIeld United.

Farmer Stories: Bringing It Back to the Farm

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Successful farmers today rely on top-performing products, innovative ideas, strong partnerships and smart decision-making to meet their business goals. As we reflect on the past 20 years of the Answer Plot® program, we are spotlighting some of the ways that the program has impacted farmers and helped increase their productivity.  
 
Finding the right product for the job
Generally, if an agricultural product makes it to market, there’s data to support that it fits somewhere. That somewhere just might not be your farm. The Answer Plot program began as a way to evaluate hybrid performance to help farmers understand what products would work best on their farms. While that’s still one aspect of the program, it has evolved into a comprehensive management tool that helps farmers get the most from each unique acre.
 
Dave Armstrong, a corn and soybean farmer near Newcastle, Nebraska, looks to the Answer Plot program to help him select and manage his hybrids throughout the growing season. He’s been farming for 41 years and attending Answer Plot events for 15 years. Even with his wealth of farming experience, Dave finds value in staying current with what’s going on in the industry by attending Answer Plot events.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0000_-The-hundreds-of-replications-that-they-do-in-soil-types-like-m-copy.jpgBoosting confidence in technology
Farming is risky business, and adopting new technology and agronomic practices can be intimidating. Over the years, Answer Plot events have helped farmers like Mike Thompson increase their confidence in adopting new technology by delivering reliable, consistent data and providing hands-on demonstrations of the latest ag technologies.
 
Mike farms near Rochester, Minnesota, with his two sons, Cody and Brett. He’s attended Answer Plot events for the past five years to learn more about the newest innovations in agriculture. Mike says he adopted better spray practices after learning about them at Answer Plot events. He and his sons now use InterLock® and Class Act® in their tank mixes and change up their nozzles to get the most effective spray coverage.
AnswerPlot_FarmerTestimonials_0001_-Rochester-is-one-of-the-windiest-cities-in-the-country-We-wen.jpgWe’ll continue to spotlight farmer stories as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Answer Plot program. Check back as the season progresses to learn how other farmers have found value in local Answer Plot events.

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