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.
 

Low-Tech Versus High-Tech Farming

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
This week’s episode of The Deal With Yield delves into the implementation of new farming practices. Joel Wipperfurth and Jon Zuk discuss the progression of high-tech farming and instances when existing practices may be as good as new.
Season 12, Episode 6: Low-Tech Versus High-Tech Farming

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

Tackle Field Variability in Soybeans

Bob Bohl
Technical Seed Manager
As you search for ways to raise the bar in your operation’s soybean production, managing field variabilities can be a good starting point. However, working across rolling hills and valleys, in unusually wet or consistently dry conditions, on rich loam or sandy soils — and many other factors — can be challenging.   
 
Start With Technology Tools
The R7® Tool by WinField United could give you a leg up by helping identify specific challenges within each field and offering solutions to help mitigate risk. For example, the tool can provide a close-up look at specific fields, starting with a soil map that identifies different soil types in individual zones.
 
Understanding each field’s conditions, including weed challenges, can help you identify which soybean seed system is right for your operation. When your seed system has been selected, the R7® Tool will cross-reference Answer Plot® testing research data with your soil map and other information to help match the specific soybean variety best suited for your conditions to achieve optimal yield potential.1
 
Manage Variability
When field variability is a challenge, a CROPLAN® WinPak® soybean seed variety, which includes two varieties within one bag, may be the answer. WinPak® seed varieties are designed to help optimize production potential across a range of soils, weeds, disease and other conditions.
 
If you’re equipped to make variable-rate applications, the R7® Tool can help provide tailored prescriptions. In higher-producing zones with good growing conditions, the tool may prescribe lower soybean plant populations to allow offensive plants to flourish. Lower populations may also be the answer for disease-prone zones to open up the canopy for better air circulation. Higher plant populations may be warranted in zones with hills and lower producing areas to compensate for smaller plant sizes and help increase yield potential.
 
Adjust Fertility Levels
When soil and/or tissue tests indicate additional plant nutrients would be advantageous, variable fertility rates could be prescribed. The varied rates would be based on fertility levels in each zone to help maximize your crop nutrient costs and potential return on investment.
 
Monitor In-Season Changes
To help manage risk during the season, the R7® Tool can help provide in-season imagery with the Field Monitoring Tool. By closely observing crop development throughout the season, you could identify opportunities to capture higher yield potential or be alerted to pending problems before yield potential is jeopardized.
 
Ask your local WinField United representative for more details about managing field variability in soybeans and other crops next season.
 
1 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 Solutions.  Actual results may vary.

Subscribe to the Advisor Newsletter

Sign up for monthly agronomic insights and product information.