Growing Knowledge

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

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.

Factoring Data Into Decision-Making

Kelsey Berger
Agriculture Technology Specialist
The new year is underway, so it’s time to dial up your planning for the coming growing season. With commodity prices demanding thorough preparation, data will be critical to ensuring you get the most out of every field in 2017. Take time now to evaluate how you’re using data to make decisions on your farm and determine how you can get more from the information available to you.
 
Here’s a look at how the Answer Plot® team uses data to power seed placement and help farmers place inputs precisely and effectively.
 
Determining seed placement through replication and localized conditions
A multitude of factors must be considered to place hybrids for optimum performance, including response to soil type, response to population, rotation and specific growing conditions. Because of the many factors that affect seed placement, quality data play a critical role in making decisions confidently. Through the Answer Plot® Program, we replicate hybrids and varieties at nearly 200 locations across the country in diverse soil types and growing conditions to determine how to best utilize each hybrid in a multitude of environments and cropping systems.
 
Recommendations for placement and management are backed by high-quality data that we’re able to maintain due to low trial error. Trial error represents factors we cannot see or anticipate that affect outcomes, which could include weather, disease, insect pressure, soil variability and other factors. The more replications, the smaller the margin of error.
 
Using data to inform input decisions
The WinField® United data analytics team is made up of 70 people who gather, analyze and organize data from the test plots then put the information into a useable form. For example, through the R7® Tool, response to nitrogen and fungicide scores are available for particular hybrids. These scores give you insights on how to prioritize your inputs based on the needs of specific hybrids in unique environments.
 
To learn more about incorporating different types of data into your decision-making process, contact your local WinField® United retailer.

Stay Up to Date on Spraying Requirements

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
With increasingly complex technologies, strict application regulations and a multitude of weed resistance issues, it is now more important than ever to ensure you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your herbicide program.
 
There are four key steps to controlling weeds through the use of herbicides. WinField United works with farmers and applicators to get the most out of each step through hands-on demonstrations at local spray clinics. Here are some examples of how attending a spray clinic can help you make the most of the four steps to effective weed control.
 
Contacting the weed. During spray clinics, we discuss what types of nozzles should be used, and go over the pressure and gallons per acre that would be ideal for each application. We also talk about maintaining the correct boom height and increasing canopy penetration by utilizing drift control products. Anything that we can do to increase the amount of herbicide that makes it out of the nozzle and down to the plant will dramatically help improve the herbicide uptake.
 
Absorbing the herbicide. Adjuvants are absolutely critical to increasing penetration into a leaf. From the time the droplet hits the leaf surface until it dries, is all the longer the herbicide has to be absorbed. Adjuvants can enlarge the surface area of the droplet, decrease evaporation and cut through waxy cuticles of the leaf surface, thereby increasing absorption of the herbicide into the plant. However, not all herbicides are receptive to the same adjuvants. During a spray clinic, we focus on which herbicides require which adjuvants to increase their efficacy within the plant.
 
Movement of the herbicide in the plant. Once the herbicide is into the plant, it must move to the site of action. The more herbicide that moves into the plant, the more that will get to the site of action. Because some herbicides do not move much in the plant, we have to focus on increasing coverage with those particular herbicides.
 
Reaching the site of action. In other words, enough herbicide must reach the site of action to provide a lethal dose. All the recommendations during a spray clinic will help you boost the amount of the herbicide within the plant, which will enhance the chances of the herbicide reaching a lethal dose at the site of action.
 
For more information about attending a spray clinic and to find one near you, see your WinField® United retailer.

Ag Consolidation and How it Might Affect You

Joel and Kyle
Hosts, WinField
On the season finale of The Deal With Yield®, hosts Joel and Kyle wrap up how the agriculture industry has shifted this year, and look ahead to changes on the horizon. Find out what consolidation in the industry, both from basic manufacturers and farm operations, means for you as a listener. Also tune in to hear their response to an audience question, and where the new Silicon Valley is located.
 
Got a question about your operation? Email hosts@dealwithyield.com for the chance to hear their response on the show.
Season 7: Episode 7 – Ag Consolidation and How it Might Affect You

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

Data Quality: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Joel and Kyle
Hosts, WinField
On this episode of The Deal With Yield®, hosts Joel and Kyle explain the importance of demanding quality data so you can get the most value from it. Learn why not all data is created equal, how inaccuracies during manual upload can negatively impact your operation and how to spot average versus valid data. Also tune in to hear their response to an audience question about the difference between providers.
Season 7: Episode 6 – Data Quality: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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

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