Information Management to Maximize Your Yields

Meet Chris Warren: SciMax Product Solutions Specialist

20150617_maxyield_477 (681x1024)With his analytical mind and ag in his blood, Chris Warren is excited to help SciMax Solutions clients find new ways to maximize their results and add more value to their farming operation.

We recently caught up with Chris, who joined SciMax in mid-June and is based in the West Region, to learn more about his diverse background and how he’s helping clients find the right solutions for their acres.

Q: What’s your farm background?
A: I grew up in Fairmont, MN, but spent a lot of time helping on my family’s farm near Ringsted, where my dad, Dan, raises corn and soybeans. My family’s roots run deep in the Ringsted area. Some of my ancestors came to this area before the town was founded in 1899 by Danish immigrants. I’ve always enjoyed coming back in the spring and fall to help on the farm, because agriculture means a lot to me.

Q: How does your diverse work experience add value for SciMax clients?
A: I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2008 with a bachelor of science degree in construction management. I had worked a lot of construction jobs and like working outdoors, but then the 2008 recession hit. Since the construction industry was hit hard, I looked elsewhere for work. I became a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial for five years. I learned a lot about business and building relationships with clients.

Q: What do you enjoy about SciMax?
A: I’m an analytical person, so I like how SciMax is focused on information management. I enjoy helping clients put data in a usable form to create an action plan to help them manage nutrients better and improve efficiencies.

Q: What excites you about the future of SciMax?
A: I look forward to seeing the results from our multi-hybrid planter, which we used to plant approximately 1,300 acres this year. Our goal is to help clients find new ways to use cutting-edge technology to manage information, make smart decisions, and consistently boost their yield potential.

I also look forward to working with more SciMax clients. If you’d like to contact me, call me at 712-260-9564.

Editor’s note: Chris moved back to Ringsted in 2013. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, spending time with friends at the lake, and traveling, especially to the western United States, including Colorado.

Higher Yields Ahead? MaxYield Puts Multi-Hybrid Planting to the Test

20150504_maxyield_285 (1024x681)Any farmer knows that not all fields—or even areas within a field—are created equal. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all corn hybrid or soybean variety that’s right for each management zone, multi-hybrid planting offers the chance for higher yields.

What was once science fiction is becoming reality in 2015 as SciMax Solutions puts this promising technology to the test in clients’ corn and soybean fields.

“We tried multi-hybrid planting last year, and the results whetted our appetite,” said Peter Bixel, SciMax Solutions’ team leader. “We think multi-hybrid planting can bring value to our clients and want to take a closer look at it.”

Multi-hybrid technology provides farmers with the ability to change the seed hybrid they are planting as the planter moves through the field. Instead of selecting an average seed variety for use across an entire field, seed hybrids can be selected and automatically planted to suit different field management zones.

In 2014, MaxYield and SciMax used a six-row planter for multi-hybrid planting on 90 acres. DeKalb also used multi-hybrid planting last year with a prototype 16-row planter on 1,000 acres farmed by SciMax clients.

This spring, SciMax Solutions Specialist Rodney Legleiter used a John Deere 1770 center-fill planter with vSet Select multi-hybrid planting technology from Precision Planting on nearly 1,400 corn and soybean acres on 10 SciMax clients’ farms. The vSet Select technology can plant two hybrids in the same row, switching back and forth as environments change to plant the hybrid that will produce the most in each management zone.

“The vSet Select meters we used on the planter were just released in December of 2014, so this is cutting-edge technology,” Bixel said.

Does it pay?
While a few companies have experimented with multi-hybrid planting in the Midwest, the technology is still in its infancy.

20150504_maxyield_196 (681x1024)SciMax is partnering with WinField® on multi-hybrid planting research in 2015. “This is something SciMax and MaxYield Seed have wanted to do for a long time,” Bixel said. “We have the information to know where specific hybrids should go, based on SciMax and MaxYield Seed data, the Answer Plot® database, and expertise from partner companies.”

The technology doesn’t come cheap. It costs approximately $30,000 to add the multi-hybrid equipment to a 12-row planter. “We want to find out if the technology is worth the investment, especially in these times of tighter margins,” Bixel said. “Past research has shown a yield advantage of nine bushels on corn and three to four bushels on soybeans.”

This spring, the SciMax team worked with MaxYield Seed specialists to write the multi-hybrid planting recommendations. The recommendations can include two hybrids or two soybean varieties. These “prescriptions” told the monitor which of the two planter boxes to draw from as the planter rolled through each field. Getting the data entered into the monitor was an important part Legleiter did before planting.

“It’s all about placing the right hybrid or variety in the right management zone to maximize yield potential,” Bixel said. “There’s no need to plant a defensive hybrid in the high-yield environment of an A zone, for example, but this hybrid would be a good fit for the C zone, where the soil tends to be lighter and sandier.”

Technology requires more management
While SciMax is interested in multi-hybrid planting for corn, the technology might be especially useful to boost soybean yields. “With the pH, disease, and soybean cyst nematode issues we have throughout northern Iowa, we think multi-hybrid planting might have a significant impact on soybean yields,” Bixel said.

While SciMax’s 2014 multi-hybrid planting trials generated promising results for corn and soybeans, the technology isn’t for everyone. “It requires more attention to detail, so you need to be willing to manage for higher yields,” Bixel said. “We’re here to help you combine the technology, seed selection, and information management to help you get the job done.”

Few companies offer this level of service. In addition, SciMax will share the 2015 results from the multi-hybrid planting trials during grower meetings this winter. “Our goal is to stay two to three years ahead of the competition and see more in your fields,” Bixel said. “Stay tuned for more details.”

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.


Maximize the Benefits of Grid Sampling

20131009_maxyield_110 (681x1024)There’s a good reason why grid sampling has been called one of the most important management practices for modern crop production. Accurate grid soil sampling is the first step to getting the most economic return on your precision farming investment.

“I’ve soil sampled ever since I started farming in the late 1990s and began grid sampling shortly after that,” said Eric Marchand, a SciMax Solutions® client who farms near Britt. “It helps me put the right nutrients in the right place.”

It’s important to update grid samples every four years for best results. Thanks to advances in technology, today’s grid sampling is much more sophisticated and can provide more useful results than the soil tests of yesteryear. All grid sampling services aren’t created equal, however. That’s why MaxYield Cooperative and SciMax Solutions took the process in-house in 2013.

“Quality is the key with soil sampling,” said Rachel Amundson, a SciMax Solutions specialist. “While SciMax partnered with other soil sampling companies in the past, we now run all our samples at a private lab to provide the highest quality service and data.”

MaxYield and SciMax have been working with Dr. Rick Vanden Heuvel of VH Consulting Inc., to provide this attention to detail since 2005. “Dr. Vanden Heuvel made everything easy to understand,” said Marchand, who was one of 20 growers who participated. “I was surprised by how much care he takes from start to finish to provide the best results possible.”

Put your soil to the test
The grid sampling process starts when trained SciMax professionals pull soil samples in the spring and fall using the latest technology. Samples are pulled every 2.5 acres using GPS technology, although the SciMax Solutions team is also testing 1.6-acre grids.

“We’re looking at this to address variability and help SciMax clients manage nutrients better,” said Rodney Legleiter, a SciMax Solutions specialist.

All of the samples are pulled according to SciMax Nitrogen protocols so nutrient recommendations can be made from the Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT). This soil-based system promotes sustainable agriculture, offers growers increased profit potential, and enhances environmental stewardship.

The samples are then sent to Vanden Heuvel’s certified lab, where they are thoroughly analyzed. This can be a time-consuming, detailed process, Legleiter noted. Because heavy clay soils are common throughout MaxYield’s trade territory, the soil samples need to be dried properly for best testing results. Since heat drying samples with heavy clay content can tie up nutrients and lead to false readings of fertility levels, Vanden Heuvel air dries the samples.

SciMax tour participants viewed the various equipment and data entry systems Vanden Heuvel uses to provide the most accurate results possible. “This isn’t a huge lab that’s focused on volume,” Marchand said. “It’s clear that careful research and quality are very important to Dr. Vanden Heuvel.”

Feeding your high-yielding crops of the future
Once the grid sampling results are in, the SciMax team compiles maps for clients’ fields. These are the start of a customized fertilizer recommendation plan tailored to zones throughout each field.

“Increasing yields starts when you know how much variability is in your fields,” Amundson said. “Understanding your soil conditions will help you better manage nutrients so you can apply the right amount where they are needed and ensure that they work together most effectively.”

Amundson is pleased that the number of grid-sampled acres continues to grow through SciMax Solutions. She encourages more growers to take advantage of this opportunity. “Grid sampling is another time we’re out in your field, learning more about your acres, soil types, and fertility levels. Also, we hold the soil samples for one year, which gives you extra time to decide if you
want to utilize SciMax Nitrogen®.”

Grid sampling is one of the most cost-effective nutrient management solutions available.
It’s also a key to better stewardship of Iowa’s natural resources. “It’s a win-win, because it helps you make the most of your input dollars and yield potential while protecting water quality,” said Peter Bixel, SciMax Solutions’ team leader.

SciMax Solutions plans to host another trip to Wisconsin in the months ahead so more clients have the opportunity to see the level of expertise that goes into the grid sampling results. “Dr. Vanden Heuvel has studied nitrogen management throughout his career, and his expertise is helping us provide more sound agronomic results,” Amundson said.

Marchand is even more convinced about the value of grid sampling after visiting Vanden Heuvel’s lab. “Better fertilizer management makes sense for so many reasons, especially as margins get tighter. It’s good to know that SciMax and Dr. Vanden Heuvel put in the extra effort to make sure their clients receive the best solutions available.”

For more information on grid sampling or SciMax Solutions, log on to

SciMax Clients Experience Tropical Agriculture of Belize

Over 30 SciMax Specialists, clients and spouses returned last week from a week long educational trip to the Central American country of Belize. We arrived in San Ignacio, Belize on Thursday, February 26th. From there we were fortunate enough to tour the agriculture in the Cayo district of Belize including Spanish Lookout, Valley of Peace Farms and Cayo Agro. The tour began with a drive through Spanish Lookout which is a Mennonite community. The Mennonites in this part of the country were the main agricultural producers beyond the sustenance farming that many natives practice until recent years when others have been joining the face of Belizean agriculture. The crops that we saw on our driving tour were corn, soybeans, red beans, kidfarm tour groupney beans, black eyed peas and many other small crops. Valley of Peace Farms currently farms 1,200 acres of corn and edible beans in Belize, MaxYield Coop and SciMax Solutions have known and worked with the owners on their American farming operation for many years. We traveled through many of their farms and were able to see they process of tearing down trees and underbrush, burning, cultivation and planting, ending at field of red kidney beans that had just flowered. They also had a root pit dug so we were able to see they forest soils that they are planting into. Cayo Agro is the grain setup and farm of Valley of Peace Farms. This was an amazing thing to see since it was all built to stand up to hurricane strength winds.
The next few days included cultural tours and travel to Placencia in the southern Stann Creek district. We toured BAL, Belize Aquaculture LTD which is a large producer of farm raised shrimp. BAL is committed to sustainable aquaculture with their inland ponds. The tour included a look at the production facility, microbiology labs, shrimp ponds and the shrimp hatchery. Along with the farm and shrimp tours, the group experienced many cultural activities of Belize including Mayan ruin, cave, wildlife and rainforest tours. A special thanks to Valley of Peace farms, Cayo Agro and Rosens for making this trip possible.
Look for more information on the 2016 SciMax Client Trip coming soon!

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.

Is Your Rain Gauge Obsolete? Top 10 Reasons to Try Climate Corporation’s Online Tools

SciMax Solutions Specialists Rodney Legleiter and Rachel Amundson check out Climate tools online.

SciMax Solutions Specialists Rodney Legleiter and Rachel Amundson check out
Climate tools online.

Imagine waking up in the morning, going online, and signing in to see how much it rained on your fields in the night. You can scan the information in the comfort of your home while enjoying your morning cup of coffee.

It’s possible, thanks to The Climate Corporation’s convenient Climate tools, including the free Climate Basic online service and App. “I tell growers that Climate Basic is something everyone should be using,” said Greg Sweeney, seed team leader at MaxYield Cooperative. “There’s lots of good information there, no matter how big or small your operation is.”

There are 10 good reasons to visit and get started with the free Climate Basic system, which lets you:

1. Track rainfall the easy way. After you create your password-protected Climate Basic account online, you can easily map your fields. Search by section or township, select your fields, and name them. Then the system will start tracking weather information, including rainfall. “I was surprised by how accurate it is,” said Sweeney, who used the tool throughout the 2014 growing season. “It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty impressive.” The rainfall total reflects an average of the field as a whole, not just one reading where a traditional rain gauge is located. For a field near Algona that Sweeney tracked, the system recorded individual rainfall events, such as the 3.52 inches that fell on the field on June 16. The system also adds up rainfall throughout the season. In Sweeney’s example, rainfall totaled 28.6 inches on the Algona field from April 1 to Sept. 15.

2. Receive email or text message alerts. You can receive Climate Corporation emails or text message updates daily about how much rainfall your fields have received in the past 24 hours. Your account can also notify you when your fields get hail. Where does all this information come from? “Climate Corporation models the data from radar,” Sweeney said.

3. Use the App. While Climate Basic’s smartphone App has much less information than the website, it can track rainfall for the past 24 hours, predict precipitation amounts for the next 24 hours, and provide other basic tools.

4. Check out weather forecasts. The Climate Basic website provides the latest weather forecasts. (Note: this option isn’t available on the Climate Basic App.)

5. Access useful weather graphs. Climate Basic records the high and low temperature for your area every day throughout the growing season. It also compiles this information in an easy-to-read line graph.

6. Review history at a glance. Climate Basic offers historical weather data related to your fields. Not only can you view a chart of accumulated precipitation throughout the growing season, but you can review previous years’ rainfall data, too.

7. Monitor crop growth stages. After you enter your planting dates into the system, Climate Basic will monitor the growth stages of your crop during the growing season.

8. Assess field workability. Climate Basic can make predictions about when your fields will be fit for fieldwork by tracking the percentage of soil moisture and the growth stage of the crop.

9. Record field scouting notes. Climate Basic offers a handy way to record and access your field scouting notes.

10. Utilize customer support. Climate Corporation offers an excellent customer support system to help you maximize the technology, Sweeney said.

You can also count on MaxYield to answer any questions about Climate Corporation’s online tools. SciMax Solutions team members are experts in Climate Corporation’s technology-based solutions. MaxYield’s seed solutions specialists and agronomy team members are also familiar with Climate Basic and know how it works. “Feel free to contact us with any questions,” Sweeney said.

20141009_maxyield_368 (1024x681)Check out Climate Pro
Ready for more? Climate Corporation also offers Climate Pro, a secure, web-based system with five additional resources.

“Climate Pro can help you maximize your high-yielding farms,” said Peter Bixel, team leader for SciMax Solutions. “It is also useful if you have fields 20 miles away or more from where you live.”

There is an acre-based fee for Climate Pro, which has no App but includes five web-based tools (known as “Advisors”) for:

1. Planting. Enter your crop’s maturity, and Climate Pro will advise you about when you should be able to plant, based on weather forecasts. “It may tell you to switch hybrids or varieties, depending on weather conditions in your area,” Bixel said. This Advisor ties in with the Precision Planting system, so you can sync your data from the 20/20 monitor right to your Climate Pro account. “You don’t have to enter any information, since the data can go right to the cloud,” Bixel said.

2. Nitrogen. This tool isn’t a big focus for SciMax Solutions clients, because SciMax Nitrogen offers a better resource, Bixel said.

3. Field Health. This satellite imagery feature is somewhat similar to the R7® Tool, which combines local data with precision ag technology. It helps you find ways to fix the poorer-producing areas of your fields and push yields even higher in the good areas.
4. Pests. Climate Pro makes crop scouting easier. “It tracks when corn larvae might be a challenge, for example, based on temperature and other factors,” Bixel said. “It helps you know what to look for where and when as you scout your fields.”

5. Harvest. This is one of Climate Pro’s most unique features, Bixel said. After entering your corn hybrid and planting data, the tool will give you an idea of when the crop should dry down to around 18% moisture. This can help you determine when to harvest for optimal results.

“We believe there will be some things of real value for you in Climate Pro,” Bixel said. “These resources also fit well with SciMax Solutions and MaxYield’s seed solutions.”

The 2015 fee for Climate Pro is $3 per acre. Clients will sign an agreement with MaxYield to participate in the program. Climate Pro is flexible, Bixel added. “You don’t have to commit all your fields. You can pick and choose which acres you want to include.”

Going forward, the Climate Corporation plans to add more Advisors to the Climate Pro tool. “This technology will continue to evolve and get better,” Bixel said. “We look forward to helping you make the most of it.”

For more information on Climate Basic or Climate Pro online tools, contact your local SciMax solutions specialist, or your nearest MaxYield seed or agronomy team member. ■

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


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

What about all of those zero yield areas?

Yield Data Cleanup

A common question the last few years has been “what about all those zero yield areas in my fields and how are they tracked?”

Whether by water or by drought, there have been quite a few acres over the last couple years in certain parts of farms that do not yield. When harvesting these areas, operators lift up the combine head. When the combine head is lifted no yield data that is recorded, this is why you have holes in your yield maps like the one below on the left.

In order for SciMax to provide quality information back on all acres of your fields, we take the time to insert zero yield points into these areas like the map below on the right.

With zero yield points added, final yield maps look like the third picture below.










If we didn’t take the time to diligently fill in zero yield areas with points, the system would apply yields to the areas that aren’t correct like the map below. This cross interpretation of the yield data goes by the closest yield point and then assigns that across the area without yield data points making the map look more like a rainbow rather than having correct yield in each 60ft by 60ft cell.

As we are beginning to bring year end reports to you, having accurate yield history on your fields helps provide better information and data to make the right decisions for next year.


Another important reason for putting zero yield points in is for fertilizer recommendations for the next year. Many clients are using actual yield data for removal values in fertilizer recommendations, which we recommend. By having these zero yield points in these areas, fertilizer recommendations will use that value for removal rather than an average number that is higher.

Have questions? Be sure to contact your SciMax Solutions Specialist today!

R7 Tools Help Troy Watne Unleash the Power of Precision Ag

20140723_maxyield_430 (1024x681)While Troy Watne is interested in precision ag, he had one big question: Is the technology so complicated that it will be more trouble than it’s worth?

“I wanted to see if there’s an easy way to get started,” said Watne, who has farmed full-time near Belmond since 1991. “If you pick up just three to five bushels an acre, the return on investment is huge.”

That’s why Watne was interested when Cody Ostendorf, a local MaxYield agronomy specialist, encouraged him to try the R7® Tool, which combines local data with precision ag technology.
In February, Watne sat down with Ostendorf and Rodney Legleiter, a SciMax Solutions specialist, to develop a variable-rate planting plan for 2014. As they talked, Ostendorf could project the satellite imagery and more from WinField Solutions’ R7 tool onto a large television screen for easy viewing.

After analyzing five or six different fields, the team decided that the R7 system would work well on a 160-acre field that Watne farms northwest of Belmond. The field contains clay-based, tight soils, including Clarion, Nicollet, Webster, and Terril. The land includes side hills with slopes ranging from 2% to 4%, as well as low areas. “The field was ideal for the R7 trial, because Troy had improved the drainage and fertility levels prior to variable-rate planting,” Ostendorf noted.

With the R7 technology, Watne and the MaxYield team could review 10 years’ worth of aerial imagery for this field and observe changes over time, all with the touch of a button. “I was intrigued that we could go back that far,” said Watne, who noted that the whole process only required a couple hours of his time. “I was also impressed by how fast the process was.”

The MaxYield team then went to work to map out management zones throughout the field. Zone A denotes areas with the highest yield potential, while Zone B includes areas with average productivity. Zone C consists of challenging areas with lower productivity levels due to poor drainage, lower fertility levels, or other factors.

Data from dry years and wet years were overlaid to create a composite management zone map, said Ostendorf, who wrote a variable-rate planting prescription for Watne to download into his 24-row John Deere® DB 60 planter.

“Downloading this information into the planter was easy and just took a few minutes,” said Watne, who planted DeKalb® 5356 on May 9 on the field, which had been planted to soybeans in 2013. The corn hybrid was planted at 34,000 to 38,000 plants per acre, with an average of 36,000 plants.

By early August, the lush, green corn plants were thriving. “The crop has been looking really good,” said Watne, who is part of WinField Solutions’ Greater Acre project, which is following a select group of growers’ results throughout the 2014 growing season. “I’m looking forward to harvest.”

So is Legleiter, who has seen the benefits of the R7 tool and variable-rate planting in fields throughout MaxYield’s territory. “Variable-rate populations are the easiest, most affordable way to boost yield, as long as the field’s drainage, pH levels, and fertility are adequate.”

Fine-tuning crop production
The R7 tool offers a valuable resource to help any grower gain a better understanding of specific fields, without having to produce years of yield data, noted Keaton Krueger, an ag technology specialist for WinField Solutions.

“It’s a great tool to determine the right hybrids for your acres and helps bridge the precision ag gap. Aerial imagery from your field can be used to write prescriptions, even before you have the yield data.”

The R7 tool also provides a good summary of each hybrid offered through MaxYield, including pictures of the hybrid’s root mass, ear size, and more. It’s important to note that the correct variable-rate seeding prescription can vary widely from hybrid to hybrid. That’s where the MaxYield and SciMax specialists can tailor the R7 data to each client’s specific needs. “Not all hybrids work for variable-rate planting,” Ostendorf noted.

“Some withstand lower and higher populations much better than others, so it’s important to find the right fit for each client’s acres.”

DeKalb 5356 was the right fit for Watne’s field, because it develops a strong root system that can penetrate clay soils. “It’s also a good fixed-ear hybrid where you can push populations higher on well-drained areas,” Ostendorf said.

To track the crop’s progress during the growing season, Ostendorf took tissue samples from high-population areas and low-population areas of the field around the V4-V5 stage in May, at the V12 stage, and around tasseling. As Ostendorf pulled samples throughout the field, this allowed him to conduct more extensive crop scouting.

“It’s good to have another set of eyes looking at my crop,” said Watne, who appreciates this peace of mind. “I can ask Cody how my crop compares with other fields in the area and get a better idea of what issues might need to be addressed now rather than later.”

Ostendorf checks the R7’s satellite imagery that’s updated every week or two during the growing season to track the vegetative index and measure various factors, including the crop’s response to plant populations and response to nitrogen.

“The R7 tool gives you a better idea of how to fine-tune your management throughout the growing season,” said Watne, who included check strips across his field. “You don’t have to sit around wondering what’s going on in the field. You’ll know if you need to add more nitrogen in season, for example.”

Taking the next step to SciMax
Improved management through the R7 tool provides a good stepping stone into SciMax Solutions, Legleiter noted. “Once you get started with R7 and get some yield data, this helps you move into SciMax, where we use your yield data to develop a management plan.”

MaxYield and SciMax make the process easy. “Our goal is to save growers time,” Legleiter added. “It’s even more efficient once you’ve been through the process.”

Going forward, Watne is interested in using the R7 tool on more fields and wants to include variable-rate nitrogen. “The end goal is to produce more consistent yields,” he said.

Put R7 to work for you
The R7 tool is a value-added service available to all clients through MaxYield. “There is no charge to map a field and show you the potential this tool can offer you,” said Legleiter, who noted that the initial consultation and historical aerial images are free.

Now’s the time to take your farm management to the next level, said Peter Bixel, SciMax Solutions’ team leader. “We’re ready to develop precision ag solutions for your 2015 crop.”

For more information, contact your local MaxYield agronomy specialist or SciMax Solutions specialist or visit or ■