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Jason Sutterby
Jason Sutterby, Precision Ag Specialist at AGChoice of Hepler, would be glad to answer any questions at 620-368-4347, or stop by the Hepler location any time.
2012-06-20 16:37:15
Precision agriculture
A: Traditionally in agriculture we have (and still do, to a great extent) applied soil amendments and fertilizers with a flat-rate, or blanket approach. Is it probable that some areas of a field might not require as much ag lime to correct soil pH, or some areas that may need a little extra fertilizer to reach optimum yield? Of course! Does the flat rate approach address those concerns? No, and in some cases it can increase costs and affect yields in a negative way. With technology available today, precision agriculture allows us to apply soil amendments at variable rates, allowing crops the opportunity to achieve optimum yields through proper soil fertility. The process is really not that complicated: • The field is divided into a grid of 2.5 acres each using GPS, and representative soil samples from each grid are collected and analyzed at the laboratory • A multi-year Nutrient Management Plan is developed for each field based on soil test levels, yield goals, and cropping practices • Ag lime and fertilizer recommendations are made for variable rate application to the grids laid out previously • Lime and fertilizer applications are made with spreaders equipped with GPS and variable rate spreading capabilities Over the course of the plan, soil fertility levels are brought to optimum. With the price of inputs today, it really makes sense to consider this program. In our experience, over 75% of fields enrolled will pay for the cost of the program in lime savings alone. After the initial plan, future fertilizer inputs can be fine tuned based upon actual yield data and crop removal rates. This is just one facet of precision agriculture and many more possibilities exist in the areas of planter, tillage, and application equipment controls.
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