New Tools for Better Farming

The idea of precision farming is not new. The application of precision techniques began in the late 80’s. Initially a small percentage of farms did adapt to this way of farming. A limiting factor was being dependent on weather predictions. If the weather does not follow that prediction, it can overshadow the precision techniques.

Even with the unpredictability of weather, it might be time to rethink the benefits of using some precision techniques in your cropping system. Some big advances in planter technology are warranting a second look.

It is well documented that precision placement of seed, avoiding doubles, and having proper spacing between each seed can add several bushels of yield. Variable rate planting also makes sense with heavier populations on heavier ground and lighter populations on lighter soils. There are planters equipped with, or that can be added onto, to handle these tasks.

In the past, variety selection for precision farming has been problematic. In a world where the average life span of a variety is 3 years, it has been hard to figure out which products will work where on your farm. Renk Seed has helped simplify this process by taking all of our plot data (including research, state trials, and dealer/customer plots) and breaking them down by yield and soil environments.

You can find this tool on our website, www.renkseed.com. Click on Products and select Choose a Product. Once there, pick a product you are interested in. In the upper right hand corner of the product page, click on the banner that reads, Click here for PERFORMANCE. This page will display variety performance under different yield and soil types. See the example above.

This example shows a set of numbers for different categories. The primary number is percent above (or below) average of all varieties within the group of plots. The number in parentheses is the number of plots that make up the data set. In high yielding environments, RK791SSTX yielded 103% higher than the plot average in 187 plots. The higher number of plots, the more confidence one should have in the primary number being accurate.

This page tells us three things. The first is performance under high, medium, and low yield environments. As a general rule, good moisture and weather generate higher yielding conditions and stress weather generates low yield conditions. The second is performance under non-rotated ground. The third is performance under different soil types.

The data from the example below shows that the variety performs consistently across all yield environments, excellent on non-rotated ground, and prefers heavy fertile soils.

This valuable information assists in matching varieties to proper soil types and yield potential, which is key to maximizing return.

Renk is also teaming up with Monsanto to associate soil and climate conditions to early level testing of varieties so this information is available at the release of new products.

Precision farming is not for everyone. In a world where maximizing return per acre should be everyone’s goal, aspects of it should at least be evaluated for economic return. Renk Seed has a tool to help with variety selection while working on having that information available quicker in the future.

October 2015 Earfull Newsletter
Written by Alex Renk

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