Beck's Knows How Much N Your Corn Crop Needs

Plus, they can put it exactly where it needs it. Late-season sidedress and aerial crop health imaging make for a dynamic duo in corn crop.

Published on: May 31, 2012

Beck's Hybrids wants to spoon feed nitrogen to your corn crop. And, they've got the technology to do it.

To date, most folks ascertain if they fell short on N after the crop is harvested and the yield map is generated. Jason Webster, practical farm research director for Beck's Hybrids, says there's a better system.

He's pairing a late-season sidedress applicator with crop sensing technology to give growers the ability to fine-tune nitrogen rates well into June. Here's how it works.

Becks Knows How Much N Your Corn Crop Needs
Beck's Knows How Much N Your Corn Crop Needs

Beck's offers an aerial imaging program that measures the crop health in grower's fields. Ideally the imaging will begin when the corn reaches the V10 growth stage, Webster says. The key is waiting until the canopy closes to avoid picking up bare ground in the images.

"With the crop health imaging, you can see if you're short on nitrogen before it's too late," Webster adds.

Once the images come back, Webster says a grower can use a tool such as their high-clearance sidedress toolbar to knife in 28% UAN when corn is shoulder high. In this sort of approach, the grower doesn't have to worry about covering 1,000-plus corn acres with the sidedress toolbar. They need only hit the areas that showed up as deficient on the imaging photos.

Last year, Webster oversaw this approach on about 240 acres of research fields (three 80-acre fields). Precision applying late-season nitrogen boosted yield by an average of 15.7 bushels. After the nitrogen and imaging costs were factored in, the farmers saw a net return of $62.43 per acre.

With Beck's crop health imaging program, Webster says the images are accurate to within 50 cm (about 20 inches). While the plane flies overhead, mounted cameras measure different wavelengths of light, Webster explains.

"Our cameras measure the difference in how much red light is absorbed by a plant, versus the amount of near-infrared light being reflected," Webster explains. "Knowing this allows us to measure Normalized Difference in Vegetative Index, which correlates nicely to overall plant health and yield potential."
Click here to play