Using Precision Ag Technologies in Tough Times

Using Precision Ag Technologies in Tough Times
Gary Suess, Precision Ag Specialist (507) 273-7043

With margins likely remaining slim for corn and soybean production in 2017, most crop farmers are not looking to spend large amounts of money on new precision technology and equipment. However, tough times are exactly when the most up-to-date precision technology can make the biggest difference on the fine line between profit and loss on a farm. The potential for precision ag is more important as profit margins tighten. Precision ag technologies give growers the ability to improve input management, better manage or understand risks, and evaluate practices and decisions. Farmers need to ensure they are making decisions for their operation that maximize profit.  Precision ag technology permits on-farm research of performance and costs of inputs, including seed, fertilizer and countless other crop treatments.  Having the ability to evaluate hybrid performance, seeding populations, fertility, and much more become more important as margins narrow.

An example of maximizing productivity and efficiency with precision ag technology comes from a tool we’ve used from the start of our precision ag program.  For many years, we’ve witnessed the improved productivity that grid sampling and VR applications of fertilizer and lime provide.  In the case of VR lime applications, many times there is an overall savings due to only applying lime to the areas of the field that will benefit from the application.  VR applications of fertilizer may not result in a financial savings like lime, however the spatial distribution throughout the field will put the fertilizer into the areas of the field that will give the most response and give increased productivity.

Another example of putting the newest precision ag technology to work on your farm is by using one of the satellite based modeling programs.  The Climate Corporation’s Fieldview platforms are widely known and used examples of these programs.  Programs like these will give detailed soil, crop and weather data on a field by field basis.  Depending of the level you are enrolled in, you will also receive satellite based scouting imagery as well as Nitrogen tracking and forecasting.  Programs like these continue improve by incorporating new features.  Now, soil test and yield data can be uploaded to make more precise seeding and Nitrogen prescriptions. 

As we move forward into another cropping year, consider using precision ag as part of your strategy to help make it a profitable one.  Talk to any Progressive Ag Center agronomy sales employees to help you to design a precision ag program to meet your goals. 

Finally, take time to enjoy the Holiday Season with your family and friends.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

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