Information Management to Maximize Your Yields

Remove the Guessing and Make Data-Driven Decisions

As farmers face another year with challenging markets and high inputs, we as agronomic advisors continue to work with our clients in order to find where we can remove some of the guessing when it comes to the decision-making process of planning another season. It comes as no surprise to anyone that is involved in agriculture that many areas saw higher than normal precipitation in 2018.

The map below shows the state of Iowa and the departure from normal in inches of rainfall in 2018.

2018 high percipitation

(source: https://water.weather.gov/precip/  parameters from last year versus normal rainfall.)

Unfortunately, this did lead to some areas of drown outs and low yielding areas in fields. Thus, there were many areas that had little if any removals of nutrients but many growers will treat those areas the same as areas that yielded well in the field. This is just one of many examples where VRT and precision agriculture can save the grower on inputs across their farms. It is important to look not just at soil sampling and soil types but also historical yield when deciding on proper recommendations for the field. At SciMax Solutions, it is important to us to treat every field individually and not look at those fields in a cookie cutter style approach.

It is important to look at the return on investment for not just for every field or every acre, but what it is actually taking to produce every bushel. We are able to take all of the costs that are provided and quantify the grower’s yields with those costs. Does it make sense to continue to treat historically poor yielding ground the same as historically high yielding ground? Would your inputs be better spent if focused slightly more on ground that has more yield potential? It is important to us that we treat every acre in an unbiased way, as if we are farming it ourselves, and the data allows us to do that.

The example below shows a field that has been put into three different zones of productivity based upon fertility and historical yield.

premiercropmanagementzones_productivity_blog_lk

We then break that out further and show how each zone did on a per bushel basis with all the costs entered. As you can see we dropped our rates in the least productive zone because it didn’t show the same ability to produce as the other two management zones.

premiercrop_costperbushel_blog_lk

This is a great example how SciMax uses data to prove profitability. It’s time to stop guessing and use your data to make profitable decisions. Learn more here:

 

*Originally posted by Premier Crop Systems*

V5 Fungicide Applications – More than just direct yield benefits

Foliar fungicides have proven to be an effective way to protect corn yield by managing foliar diseases such as: Gray Leaf Spot, Common Rust, Southern Rust, Eye Spot, Northern and Southern Leaf Blight, and Northern Corn Leaf Spot when timed and applied correctly. Many studies show that the optimum time for fungicide application is from tassel (VT) to R2. But what about an early season application? Can they replace VT applications? Through a better understanding of fungicide products, it has been discovered that the use of a foliar fungicide will benefit more than just crop yields. They are proven to better the overall plant performance. The correct use of a foliar fungicide can improve stalk integrity, improve health of high yielding hybrids, reduce stalk lodging, decrease harvest losses, and reduce harvest time.
Capture• Early season fungicide treatments at V5-V7 can be applied at a lower cost, and thus have a lower breakeven yield response. 2014 SciMax trial data indicated a 12.8 bu/ac increase with V5 fungicide on responsive hybrids.
• Tank-mixing with a post-emergence herbicide and MAX-IN ZMB from Winfield  allows a fungicide to be applied without any additional application costs. 2014 SciMax trial data indicated a 4.3 bu/ac increase with MAX-IN ZMB application at V5.
• Fungicides can be very effective at managing diseases and protecting yield, but the profitability of an application is by no means a certainty. Many times the most yield limiting diseases like Northern Corn Leaf Blight and Gray Leaf Spot occur much later in the season and the amount of active ingredient remaining from an early application is too low to provide effective control late into the season.
• V5 applications are a good complementary way to prevent early season infections and establish a healthy, uniform stand late into the season. If additional disease pressure arises, a VT application may still be needed for maximum yields.
It is important to remember to check the response to fungicide rating of your hybrid before deciding to make an application, check with your Agronomist for more information.

 

Improving water quality with variable rate N applications in corn

R.M. Vanden Heuvel, Ph.D., CPSS
VH Consulting, Inc.

January, 2015

Over the past ten years, VH Consulting and Max Yield Cooperative (SciMax N) have been promoting variable rate N applications (VRT-N) for continuous corn and corn in rotation with soybean. Over 60,000 acres have been sampled for this program in northern Iowa. The goal of the program was to refine N recommendations and optimize N rates. A growing university database across the Corn Belt has clearly shown that producers have been over applying N for corn production. It is also very clear that N needs vary across individual fields, but VRT-N programs across the Corn Belt remain in their infancy. Recommendations for SciMax N have reduced N rates by an average of about 35-40 lbs/a thus far, compared to standard farmer practice. While unusual, some fields have seen average reductions of 100 lbs/a. With these improvements, questions are being asked as to the anticipated water quality improvements that should result from the program. Such water quality data from universities are not common as the measurements needed to be taken are very time consuming and expensive. This article hopes to provide some estimates water quality improvements with improved N application rates from data that does exist from our area.table 1

Recent water quality data from the University of Minnesota at Waseca, MN measured nitrate that moved out of the soil profile with various N rates under field conditions (Table 1). The soil was a
Webster clay loam, typical of the area and also of northern IA. Nitrogen application rates were from 0 to 180 lbs/a in 30 lb increments. Yields were determined and nitrate-N (measured with special instrumentation to extract samples of the soil solution) is given as the total amount measured for the growing season. The red colored value of 135 lbs/a was the calculated Economic Optimum N rate (EON), not an applied N rate.

The first important item to note is that when no N was applied, 28 lbs/a of nitrate-N was lost over the growing season. This is not unusual as mineralization occurs with tillage. It also points out that a corn crop is not 100% efficient at using N in the soil profile, even when no fertilizer is applied. Some losses are always going to occur.

As the N rate increases it can be seen that nitrate-N also increases, reaching 51 lbs/a at the 180 lbs N/a, the highest application rate. The EON was 135 lbs/a, which produced an estimated 189 bu/a of grain. Ideally, this would be what a farmer would optimally apply at this site. But how well does this rate do for the environment by minimizing nitrate leaching? At the EON, the nitrate-N rate would have been 41 lbs/a, a value that is only 13 lbs/a above that of the 0 N application rate. So, moving from 0 to 135 lbs/a of applied N only increased nitrate-N by 13 lbs/a (28 to 41 lbs/a, Table 1)! This is important to note as it illustrates that optimum N rates serve to minimize nitrate leaching in a high production environment. Over application above EON will only serve to increase the rate of leaching. This is shown in the last column of Table 1 as nitrate-N increased to 23 lbs N/a above the check, at the highest N rate of 180 lbs/a. Using an optimum rate of N (the EON, of 135 lbs/a) reduced nitrate-N leaching by over 40% (from 23 lbs/a to 13 lbs/a). This degree of reduction is significant!

A nitrogen program that zeros in on optimum N rates for your fields will minimize environmental contamination. It won’t eliminate leaching, but it will minimize it. Over application of N accelerates the loss of N, costing farmers money and unnecessarily degrading water resources. The 180 lb N/a rate in the university study can be viewed as a reasonably common rate used in our region in traditionally managed fields. SciMax N has reduced N rates to below this number. In many cases, well below this amount of N. If the leaching data in the study above is an indication of what is happening in northern IA, then VRT-N recommendations in SciMax N are having a very significant impact on reduced nitrate-N levels.

As we continue to improve our recommendation system, only more improvements for reduced nitrate loads will occur. Optimum yields are required for profitable farming, and fortunately the N rates required to achieve them (EON) will go a long way to improve water quality.

Data, Reports, Charts, Correlations…What does it all mean?

SciMax Data

It is that time of the year again, time for your SciMax Specialist to meet with you to go through Year End Reports. This can all be a bit overwhelming so we want to help you understand some of the reports a little more. One of the most powerful reports is the Field Top Ten. We can’t stress enough the power of this report and the useful data that comes with it.
Yld MapcorrelationAlong with a yield map is a Correlation to Dry Yield chart. There are red and blue numbers in this chart and data charts that follow to back these correlations up.
Blue Numbers = Direct Correlation
Not a good correlation, not a positive correlation but DIRECT CORRELATION
Red Numbers = Indirect Correlation
Not a bad correlation, not a negative correlation, but INDIRECT CORRELATION

 Example:

pH: As soil test pH values increased, yield decreased making an INDIRECT CORRELATION. Take a look at Chart #1 below to see the data to back this correlation up.
Phosphorous(P): As soil test P increased, yield also increased making a DIRECT CORRELATION. Take a look again at Chart #1 below to see the data to back this correlation up.
It is important to remember to focus on correlations that we can change; soil test values, population, variety/hybrid, total fertilizer rates, etc. As it is just as important to recognize the correlations that we might not be able to change such as CSR, soil type, etc. but not focus on those we can change and work towards them before dwelling on the others.chart1

yld by soil

As you look more at this particular correlation chart, variety/hybrid is a direct correlation. This field had two different hybrids planted on it. DKC57-75RIB yielded 6 bu./ac. more than DKC54-38RIB that is why a Direct Correlation appears, due to the change to a higher yielding hybrid.

yld by hybrid