GrowMor – Precision Applications

Fertilizer and Ag-Lime applications are some of the most important operations in agricultural production.  Historically, these products were applied onto the whole field regardless of the variations across the land.  However, in precision agriculture, grid sampling is utilized to determine the variability of the soil, and fertilizers and lime of variable rate applied onto each of these areas.  Precision agriculture was built on the foundation of variable rate applications of fertilizer and lime. Here’s a look at the impact variable rate applications can have on fertilizer and lime:

Fertilizer Applications
When farmers applied fertilizer, it was traditionally applied as a flat rate application across the entire field for many years.  Many factors directly affect the yield, including soil type.  Because of this, yields will always vary across the field. Higher yielding crops consume more nutrients than lower yielding crops, so it is very common to see the highest yielding areas of a field test the lowest in fertility and lower producing areas higher in fertility.   In most cases, the years of flat-rate spreading have not put enough nutrients back into some of the high yielding areas of the field. The lower yielding parts of the field do not use as many nutrients, therefore they test higher in soil nutrients because the flat rate of fertilizer applied in the past was higher than the crops were using. By combining grid sampling soil test results with variable rate applications of fertilizer, we can overcome this by applying the appropriate rates of fertilizer to the variability throughout the field.  Variable rate fertilizer application has several benefits, including:

  • Improved nutrient use efficiency
  • Increased productivity
  • Build fertility in a balanced way
  • Increase grower revenue

Lime Applications
When implementing different precision agriculture practices, site-specific management of soil pH has been shown to be one of the most promising strategies in fields.  Applying a “blanket” rate of lime across an entire field can be expensive. You may even be hurting yourself in some parts of the field that do not require lime. Below is a list of the advantages of applying lime to your fields with variable rate technology vs. flat rate:

  • May reduce liming cost
  • Ensures lime is applied in the areas of the field it is most needed
  • Will increase the availability of nutrients in all areas of the field
  • Will increase the efficiency of fertilizer applications
  • Improves yield where acidity is a limiting factor
  • Improves soil health

At All-American Co-op, we use our GrowMor program to create prescriptions for precision applications of fertilizers and lime for many crops, including corn, soybeans, and alfalfa.  A unique feature of the GrowMor program is the unlimited ability to adjust recommendations equations, apply credit from other fertilizer applications, and adjust yield goals throughout the field. This flexibility gives us the power to customize each recommendation.

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