Growing Knowledge

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

Building Your Plan for Optimal ROI Potential

Joel and Kyle
Hosts, WinField United
On this episode of The Deal With Yield®, Joel is joined by Jim Hedges, a corn and soybean farmer based in Central Illinois and Senior Director of Strategy and Insights, Ag Technology, for WinField United. The guys discuss tips and tools that can help farmers get the most out of their input budgets.

The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.

How Technology Informs My Decision-Making

Jim Hedges
Sr. Director of Strategy and Insights, Ag Technology for WinField United; corn and soybean farmer
As a corn and soybean farmer in Central Illinois, there are a number of things I do every year to help optimize my ROI potential and minimize risk, many of which are driven by technology. Here are some of the strategies I put into motion when planning for the upcoming growing season.
Align seed and crop input purchases with my management system.
On our operation, we manage both corn and soybeans quite intensely. Consequently, I want to ensure the hybrids and varieties I plant not only work on the soil types I have, but that they also fit into the systems approach we use on our farm.
For example, we do a late side-dress nitrogen application on all of our corn acres. Understanding each hybrid’s response to nitrogen score is a must if we are going to maximize our ROI on that input investment. The same holds true for response to fungicide scores. Technology gives me the ability to confidently invest in my crop with the knowledge that I have a high probability of dependable and repeatable ROI.
Use variable-rate technology to plant smarter.
This year, most of our soybean variable-rate prescriptions ended up at about 120,000 to 130,000 seeds per acre, and the results were pretty incredible. Our crops were under a lot of stress and had very little rain in August and September. Despite that, yields were very consistent, even between different soil types, which I did not expect. Can I attribute this all to using a variable-rate prescription? Probably not, but I think that the strategy of doing some over-population and some under-population did pay off. It also allowed me to move the seed savings into my micronutrient and fungicide budget. Once again, it’s about where the dollar invested generates the highest return.
Allow for in-season input adjustments.
As I think about the relationship between yield and inputs, it primarily ties back to what the environment has given or not given, the results of our cultural practices and what tissue tests are showing. I’m constantly evaluating the potential of our corn crop and adjusting nitrogen accordingly.
For example, I usually do a nitrogen application at planting, then come back with another between V8 and V12. However, if I use my knowledge of the environment along with NutriSolutions® tissue testing results and technology like the R7® Field Forecasting Tool by WinField United, I might decide to adjust that application timing, as well as the amount of product applied, to get optimal ROI potential.
Plan for tech use throughout the season.
When I think about next year, I know I’ll use in-season satellite imagery. I’ll also use the R7® Field Monitoring Tool to look closely at how fields performed this year, the practices I want to keep for next year and the changes I want to make. Abandoning a planned input decision, for me, is not ever going to be farm-wide. It’s going to be made field-by-field, based on the knowledge we have about that crop, the environment, and what the field can and cannot do. Technology aids us greatly in determining these factors.
In the past, we factored a lot of gut feelings into our decision-making process. The knowledge and insights that technology tools bring not only help me make more informed decisions; they also allow me to sleep better at night. That’s a big deal.

Capturing Maximum ROI

Answer Plot®
Research Team
Marker-assisted breeding technology has dramatically increased the speed of developing new hybrids with improved yields and stress tolerance. This novel breeding process involves testing a small chip removed from the seed coat and endosperm to select seeds with specific genes and traits, drastically shortening the development period.

The question is: Are you reaping the benefits of these new hybrids and varieties as soon as they become available?

"Over the last several years, we’ve seen up to 5- to 6-bushel-per-acre yield increases with many new hybrids as compared to the current elite hybrids," says Brad Miller, region product manager, WinField. "Farmers need to capitalize on these gains as soon as possible or they’re losing out on yield."

A primary reason why you can confidently plant new genetics in a shorter period of time is the management information gleaned through the Answer Plot® program.

"Our Answer Plot® research includes numerous replicated trials for statistical accuracy and a high level of confidence in our data," Miller notes. "Through this research, we develop key insights about the right management practices, such as plant populations, soil types, plant nutrition and other factors that will help farmers capture maximum yield potential the first year they plant new products."

"Farmers are going to have approximately the same cost per acre for seed, whether they’re buying products that came out this year or four years ago," Miller notes. "However, sticking with an older hybrid with less yield potential than new releases for several years could cost that farmer 15 to 20 bushels per acre in lost yield during that time.

"WinField agronomists have the tools to help you take advantage of new seed technology as soon as it’s available and capture maximum return on your seed investment,” he adds.

Review the CROPLAN® 2015 Seed Guide for more information on new hybrids and varieties for the coming season to optimize your yield success and potential ROI.

1 Data from 136 Answer Plot® locations.
2 Results may vary. Because of factors outside of Winfield Solutions’ control, such as weather, product application and any other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Winfield.

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