Growing Knowledge

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

2018 Data Spells Success for CROPLAN Corn, Soybeans

WinField United Agronomy Team
In many areas of the country, 2018 was a challenging year for agriculture. Late spring planting, too much or too little rainfall, and a growing season with wide-ranging temperatures caused even more pressure for farmers in a time of economic challenges.
 
Despite these variabilities, preliminary data from Answer Plot® locations nationwide showed strong results from CROPLAN® corn hybrids and WinPak® soybean varieties. Here’s a deeper dive into 2018 numbers.
 
Corn: Yield, agronomic advantages
Nationally, CROPLAN corn hybrids delivered a 5.2-bushel-per-acre yield advantage on average over the competition,* demonstrating that we can go toe-to-toe against one of the best brands on the market. Regional numbers were strong as well.
 

 
Every year, we strive to improve our CROPLAN hybrid lineup. We evaluate our current products, decide what to keep and determine what experimental hybrids we’ve been testing over the years to move into our regular product offerings. In addition to yield potential, factors that we consider in formulating our product lineup include genetic makeup and the economic potential of that particular hybrid, as well as the agronomic aspects including roots and stalks, grain quality, and resistance to insect pressure and diseases such as gray leaf spot and Goss’s wilt.
 
Soybeans: Winning performance from WinPak varieties
A unique combination of two different but complementary soybean varieties, WinPak varieties work to help you manage field variability. Because we’re not able to predict what next year will bring, WinPak varieties can help you spread your risk by combining seeds that are able to better compensate for each other’s limitations. The numbers from 2018 below indicate WinPak varieties enjoyed both national and region-specific yield advantages across the board over non-WinPak varieties. According to 2018 results, regions with the most variability tended to see the most pronounced advantage.
 

 
Through our 2018 nationwide Answer Plot trials, we are able to see the profitability potential with WinPak varieties, and with less risk. Our data suggests that WinPak varieties have a yield advantage that actually increases with soil variability, field stresses and environmental challenges. In addition, because no special planting equipment is needed, WinPak varieties are an economical way to do a multi-variety placement.
 
The reliability of Answer Plot data
We test seed at nearly 200 Answer Plot locations across the United States, where we’re able to replicate our trials. We’ve generated more than 6 million data points from the Answer Plot program, with each data point statistically analyzed to help us deliver reliable, consistent insights to help you improve yield and profitability potential. Talk with your local trusted advisor about the quality of our data and how CROPLAN seed can fit into your 2019 planning.
 
 
*Source: 2018 Answer Plot trial data. Based on 232 comparisions against Pioneer corn hybrids.
 
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. Answer Plot®, CROPLAN®, WinField® and WinPak® are trademarks of WinField United.

Dial In to Data Quality

Steve Anthofer
Answer Plot Operations Sr. Manager
Winter is here and it’s time to formulate a farm plan for next season. Take time to review data from 2018 and use it to make decisions for 2019. Here are some ways to help ensure your data is as accurate and information-rich as it can be.
 
1. Demand data that’s replicated.
Agronomic data that’s backed by extensive replicated trials helps verify whether variations in that data are due to error or to the effects of different treatments. Data that undergoes a quality assurance process gives you the confidence to use it to make critical decisions. WinField United Answer Plot® data is derived from high-quality, replicated research with built-in controls that help us understand product performance so we can offer recommendations you can trust.
 
2. Know the limits of crowdsourced data.
Crowdsourced data can tell you what happened when a product was tested, but not why it  happened or how it happened. Knowing the kind of environment in which a product performed well, and how it interacted with other products, are steps toward better predictability. Crowdsourced data doesn’t offer that level of specificity.
 
3. Request data that’s prescriptive.
Farmers need information that helps them make decisions about future crops. Conclusions made about commercial products that have been in the market for a while can be useful if you continue to use those products. However, those same conclusions have limited value when you’re considering new products you haven’t yet used on your farm. WinField United delivers insights on many seed and crop protection products at least a year ahead of data that is crowdsourced.
 
4. Insist on data that represents your fields.
Notice I didn’t say, data that “is specific to” your fields. Using on-farm data or research from nearby fields used to be the standard. Now, using environmental characterization, we can identify research from locations nationwide that can represent the average environment of a given farm.
 
Said another way, when you only use local data, you make inferences based on past performance to represent next year. But next year is probably going to be a lot different from this year. By using data from a field in another location during the same year, we can represent the average of your farm’s environment and use that information to make decisions.
 
5. Work with your local trusted advisor.
Meet with your advisor now to navigate Answer Plot data and start making plans for next season. Every year is different, and your advisor can recommend the tools and insights needed to help you navigate your data and use it to start 2019 off right.
 
 
© 2018 WinField United. Answer Plot® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.

Understand the Value of Foliar Health

Dan Griffin
technical seed agronomist
If you could look into a crystal ball during 2019 planning, what would it tell you? Obviously, there’s no predicting the future in agriculture, but you can use data to help inform your decision-making.
 
Every year, WinField United generates response-to-fungicide data for all the hybrids being tested in nearly 200 Answer Plot® locations nationwide. In 2017, the results demonstrated a national average yield gain of 11.2 bushels per acre, following a tassel application of fungicide. These gains are often twice this amount in the eastern Corn Belt, due to high rainfall, heat, humidity and fungal pathogen populations that overwinter on crop residue, causing foliar disease pressure throughout the growing season.
 
But where on an ear of corn do we physically see the benefit of a foliar fungicide application?
This year in Ohio, our local WinField United team designed a new Answer Plot demonstration called the “Ear Leaf Demo” to show how response to fungicide can be seen on an ear of corn. As you consider input investments for the year ahead, the results from this demonstration can help you better understand the value of a foliar fungicide application.
 
Leaf surface area leads to grain fill
The ear leaf is the most important leaf on a corn plant because it powers the photosynthetic ability of the plant late into the season. Protecting the ear leaf, and the leaves above it, adds yield through increased kernel depth, which is a critical component to high-yielding corn. Gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and southern rust destroy the photosynthetic ability of a given leaf by infecting the plant and decreasing the amount of photosynthetically active leaf surface area. Decreased leaf surface area diminishes the plant’s ability to add yield through kernel depth. Foliar fungicides play an important part in preserving ear leaf integrity during the grain fill period, which could contribute to increased yield potential.
 
To demonstrate leaf integrity’s critical role in yield growth, we removed the ear leaf for a block of eight rows and left it intact on the adjacent eight rows. There were no other differences between the two treatment zones. The removal of the ear leaf simulates the impact a foliar disease can have if it attacks the surface area of the leaf. During a year of high disease pressure in Ohio, the visual results were impressive. Remember, yield response to a VT/R1 fungicide application is not seen in increased kernel rows or length — it is seen in increased kernel depth.
 
Overhead view of full-length corn

10-22-Overhead-image-of-corn-kernel-depth-(2).png
In these images, the increased kernel depth is easily identified. Both the plant with an ear leaf intact (left) and the plant with an ear leaf removed at R1 (right) have the same number of kernels around and the length. But notice the stark difference in kernel depth between the two. The plant with an intact ear leaf added much more kernel depth and, in turn, will have the higher yield potential come harvest.
 
This is how fungicide applications can provide value: providing disease resistance on the ear leaf to preserve the plant’s photosynthetic ability longer into grain fill. Understanding that value is important as 2019 planning begins. Be sure to speak with your local agronomist about whether you should set aside a disease protection budget for next year.
 
© 2018 WinField United. Answer Plot is a trademark of WinField United.
 

Focus on Data Quality, Not Quantity

Brody McCauley
Wisconsin Answer Plot Research Manager
“Data” seems to be the buzz word in agriculture lately, with new agriculture startups launching daily to provide more information for farmers. But maybe more data isn’t what we need. It’s time to focus on quality data that leads to profitable decisions. Here’s how we’re doing that with the Answer Plot® program.
 
  1. Cause and effect or correlation? There’s a big difference between correlation and causation. We have nearly 200 Answer Plot testing locations across the U.S. where we’re able to replicate our trials. We’ve generated more than 6 million data points from the Answer Plot program, and each data point has been statistically analyzed to help us deliver reliable, consistent insights to improve farm profitability. Our dedicated analysts help us decipher the data to make sure what we’re seeing is real, not just correlation.
 
  1. You get what you give. If a trial protocol is flawed by design, or if the execution of the trial is botched, data integrity is compromised. The old saying “garbage in, garbage out” applies to data as well. Our Answer Plot teams are committed to limiting variability in our tests by placing trials on the most uniform soils possible. We follow pre-established protocols for all processes, from how we get the seed into packets for planting to our quality control of data points. 
 
  1. We’re all human. Human error is one way data integrity is compromised. We’ve tried to limit the introduction of human error by employing as much technology as possible to help improve our accuracy. For example, we use ArcMap GIS to manipulate and create all plot maps. And Trimble GPS guidance systems read those maps when we’re planting, applying fertilizers and crop protection products, and harvesting. Using pre-mapped files, we can accurately place each seed and apply each treatment using technology, which helps reduce human error.
 
The Answer Plot program is a valuable resource for farmers because you can be confident that you’re getting quality data that has been collected using established protocols and analyzed using sound statistics. To learn more about the data we’re collecting, visit AnswerPlot.com or contact your local WinField United retailer.

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.

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