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Precision Farming Management
Technology helps stretch input dollar

John Lindamood found the road to uniformity lay along the route he laid out using precision agriculture.

Nematode study uses electrical mapping

Electrical conductivity mapping has been useful to find soil textures to provide precision applications of fertilizer and irrigation water, but can it be used to treat pests? Scientists at Louisiana State University believe it can and are finding surprising results battling root knot nematodes in cotton.

What can precision farming do for you?

The Purdue University basketball team was riding high Jan. 1, going 13-0 and having just demolished West Virginia. Two weeks later, fans were scratching their heads and deriding players after three straight losses. It’s very much a “what have you done for me lately?” world.

Conserve fuel with ballasting

This year’s weather may have you feeling like you’re always climbing out of a rut, but proper ballasting can spare your tractor and your fuel bill from a similar fate.

Zeroing in on precision N rates

Agronomists have long admitted that nitrogen recommendations for corn generally aren’t too accurate. Plus or minus 40% accuracy isn’t very good, particularly with today’s rising concerns over Chesapeake Bay nutrient pollution.

Managing tech boosts efficiency

Randy Madden is quick to put new technology to work on his Alden farm. High fertility and variety selection are the primary keys to high yields on his 2,000 acres of continuous corn, notes Madden.

Streamlining field operations

Richard Pelzel may reduce tillage or combine some field operations, like herbicide and insecticide applications, to save field trips and dollars. All the while, he makes good stewardship of the land at Miles, Texas, a priority.

How accurate is your planter?

No one wants unpleasant surprises when corn emerges. That’s why Joey Hanson, agronomist at Valley Ag Supply, Gayville, S.D., recommends doing a calibration check on planters.

Satellite imagery proves helpful

With all the crop input products available today, it can be difficult to decide which works best at what time, and in what specific location. Without a visual image of the field, this can also mean local agronomists have a hard time explaining where and why a certain product should be applied.

Farm moves into high tech

It was not that long ago that “bar codes” referred to what the bartender told phoning wives checking on the whereabouts of their spouses.

Strategy for feeding world now and later

Global agriculture is facing enormous challenges in meeting the food, fiber, feed and biofuel needs of the 7 billion global population.

Precision puts money in the bank

At $250 per bag, how many seeds does it take to get your attention?

Tech does more than reduce overlap

Using trigonometry, ag engineers can pencil out the value of overlapping inputs.

Precision ag data to go wireless

Use of global positioning systems for variable-rate and yield-mapping applications really boomed with the arrival of autosteering tools on tractor, sprayer and combine cabs. But no matter how new or sophisticated your setup, someone still has to slog a flash drive or compact flash card from office to machine and back to transfer the latest A-B lines for guidance, prescription information or other data. But those days may be ending as new networking technologies come

Monsanto develops tools for 2020 farmers

The farmers of 2020 may have technologies at their fingertips that are pipe dreams today. Yet some of the technologies they will access are already in the pipeline. You should get access to some of these technologies before 2020.

Pursuing progress with precision tools

David Condon knows that precision technology considered cutting-edge five years ago is nearly obsolete today. Condon, who farms 1,700 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat near Creighton, has steadily added to his precision tool inventory over the past seven years.

Get most from yield maps

It’s that time of the year — map-reading time. As you sit down at your desk with a stack of GPS yield maps, remember that colorful maps are not the same as useful knowledge.

Computer signals corn planter just how much seed to drop

On cold days last winter when his son hauled grain, Dennis Carnahan was content to sit at the desk and work on the computer. What he accomplished was just as productive as putting in manual labor.

Increase crop fertility with liquid manure

Spreading manure is a sophisticated business these days. For farmers who know the quantity of nutrients available in the manure, it is simply utilizing a resource from the operation. For Kurt and Wayne Kaup of K and W Farms at Stuart, applying liquid manure from their 26,000-head hog wean-to-finish operation is a standard practice.

Bringing home the prize

In 2010, Kevin Monahan of Waverly, Va., had his worst year ever growing peanuts. In 2011 he had his best peanut-growing year ever. In fact, judging from the state peanut yield contest, Kevin had the best peanut yield in the state in 2011.

Variable-rate irrigation helps conserve water

Ed Lammers wants to preserve his land and be a good steward. The Cedar County farmer is now using variable-rate irrigation as another stewardship tool in accomplishing his conservation goals on his rolling farm ground with highly variable soil types.

‘Reading’ nitrogen on the go still evolving

Ground-based, canopy-reflectance sensors are effective at detecting nitrogen stress in growing corn and other crops. But currently there is what Richard Ferguson calls a stalemate in the adoption of the sensors in variable-rate application systems.

Crop sensors work

The Skinner family has been working to tighten nitrogen rates ever since they started using precision agriculture techniques some 15 years ago. It’s not just the rising cost of N, says Darin Skinner. “We want to be good environmental stewards,” he says. “We want to be on top of fertilizer rates for both reasons. It’s in the news. The public is paying more attention.”

More corn, less N

The corn crop was struggling when Darin Skinner drove the high-clearance applicator down the rows at his family’s Hardscrabble Farms last July. Late planting following a wet spring delayed operations on their farm and most others in Ohio. “I really thought we could be looking at a 100-bushel yield,” he says. But things went better than he expected. “We ended up having a pretty decent year.”

Putting sensors to work

Crop sensors can be useful to farmers, but it takes certain steps to make them work, says Robert Mullen, director of agronomy for Potash Corp. Three kinds of crop sensors are currently available, he notes: Crop Circle by Holland Scientific Inc., Ag Leader Technology; GreenSeeker by NTech Industries Inc., Trimble; and CropSpec by Topcon Positioning Systems.

New tech can up profits

Clint Abernathy lost almost his entire cotton crop during the 2011 drought, and wasn’t the only Altus, Okla., grower who was severely impacted. Many irrigated acreages lost serious numbers as Lake Altus-Lugert, the area’s primary source of irrigation water, couldn’t keep ahead of the heat and precipitation deficit.

Farmers zero in on using ag technology to meet their needs

There’s no rule that says you have to adapt every practice invented so far to cash in on precision farming. As far as Henry Buell is concerned, the ability to do one thing well that he couldn’t do before without advanced technology makes it worth it.

EC mapping surveys field’s clay pan

Researchers are finding new tools to better assess clay pan for producers seeking the best root zone preparations.

Check soil fertility with tissue tests

This is the time of year when you can evaluate your fertility program by taking plant tissue tests. What can you address if you come across deficiencies? Of the tissue test results I’ve looked at over the years, nitrogen and zinc seem to be the nutrients most often listed as deficient. Phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and sometimes boron may show up as deficient as well.

Use center pivots to spoon-feed N to your cornfields

After above-normal spring rain in 2011, Doug Ziemke of Waco noticed yellowing in several cornfields. Tissue samples verified his suspicion that some of his preplant nitrogen had leached below crop roots.

An eye on nitrogen

To better manage nitrogen applications, Tom Snider Jr. first went the split-application approach: preplant anhydrous ammonia with a strip-till pass, followed by a small dose in the starter at planting, and then a final sidedress application. “I don’t apply nitrogen in the fall at all,” says the McCool Junction producer.