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Crop Tour 2016: Indiana Edition

By Darren Goebel

Greetings once again from Crop Tour 2016.   During the last week of July, I travelled to the Kevin Trimble farm in Amboy, Indiana, about an hour north of Indianapolis.   While most of the Midwest has been getting plenty of rain, this pocket in north central, Indiana is super dry.   In fact, Kevin told me that his farm has not received any appreciable amount of rain since the latter part of June.

Crop Tour Sign

As a result of the dry weather, the crop is showing signs of stress, highlighting some key differences in our plots.

DeltaForce left-400# right

This is the split between automatic hydraulic downforce (DeltaForce) on the left and 400# downforce on the right.    Notice that the corn on the right is showing more drought stress; lower leaves are brown and desiccated with overall lighter plant color.   This is a result of heavy in furrow packing that created compaction in the root zone.  While you would not normally see this in a whole field, differences show up very clearly in the plot.  In a three-year study, growers that used DeltaForce averaged 11 bushels per acre higher yield.  I suspect the yield difference will be much higher in this field, but we will have to wait until fall to know for sure.

Compaction problems quickly show up when moisture is limiting.

IMG_2132

Kevin drove his backhoe along the end to demonstrate how automatic hydraulic down force can adjust to differences in soil bulk density.  Above: The crop is suffering in the compaction zone.  Below: Planting Map showing compaction zone.

Compaction zone

This report shows that compaction from backhoe path prior to planting caused Deltaforce to react at planting.

The depth of planting study is showing some interesting results.  Many growers plant corn shallow because they believe there is less risk in stand establishment.  Unfortunately, shallow planting can cause as many problems as it solves.   Most agronomists recommend a minimum of 1.5” planting depth with 2” preferred.  Of course, soil type and moisture level should be taken into account.  One great thing about White planters is that depth control can be calibrated to ensure consistent planting depth across the entire width of the planter.  In this case, the planter planted the corn consistently at 1” deep.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t uniform enough moisture at 1” to get all of the seed up consistently.

1_ planting depth - note runts

This is the split between 1” planting depth on the right and 1.5” planting depth on the left.  The 1” planting depth is exhibiting runt plants as a result of delayed emergence due to dry soils at that depth after planting.   These runt plants will not produce an ear.   The 1.5” and deeper planting depths do not have any issues with runt plants.   Stand establishment is similar at all planting depths (1.5, 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0) except 3.5” depth.   The 3.5” planting depth is suffering about a 10% reduction in stand.  We will take these plots to yield and share results in an upcoming report.

Stand uniformity in corn has been getting a lot of attention since the late 90s.   Most farmers and agronomists know there are heavy yield penalties for skips and doubles making planter performance absolutely critical.   Making things even more challenging, seed companies can’t always guarantee requested seed sizes for that hot new hybrid; and refuge in the bag is a whole other story since seed from different lots must be blended in the same bag.   The 9800VE series incorporates meters that can accurately singulate and row units that can accurately plant any corn seed size.

Near picket fence stand

Above:  Near picket fence stand.  Below:  Doubles and Skips from a poorly adjusted planter.

Skips and Doubles

During the last two weeks of August, a team of Agronomists and Product Specialists will be travelling throughout the Midwest speaking at Crop Tour 2016 plot locations. RSVP to attend a Crop Tour event near you: http://agcocropcare.com/crop-tour-rsvp/!

Global greetings from Crop Tour 2016

By Darren Goebel

Greetings from Crop Tour 2016! Crop Tour is an initiative at AGCO in which we are gathering information throughout the growing season and demonstrating how different variables that farmers face every year can impact overall yield potential. As an agronomist I love the opportunity to get out to walk fields, observe crop progress, and talk to farmers. This week I was in North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota.  Two weeks ago I was in Russia. What is interesting about these two seemingly divergent locations is how similar farmers from Fairmont, MN, to Rostov-on-Don, Russia, are. Everywhere I go; farmers are looking for new techniques to increase production as efficiently as possible in order to improve their bottom line. AGCO is leading the precision revolution with Fuse® Technologies and the most productive, accurate seeding equipment in the world.

Following is my story of Crop Tour 2016 in photos:

Precision pays in Russia

Russia Fuse precision ag 1

Wheat plots. I was amazed to learn that wheat on this farm averages over 100 bushels per acre. Up to three nitrogen applications and two fungicide applications were made with an AGCO Challenger/RoGator Sprayer to insure top yields.

 

Soils in this region are high in organic matter and highly productive. This is a high organic matter silty clay loam soil. You can see Sunflowers in the photo. These were planted with a White VE series planter equipped with Precision Planting technology. Sunflowers are extremely difficult to singulate due to their inconsistent size. With precision planting technology, White/Challenger planters are proving to be one of the most accurate planters in the market.

Soils in this region are high in organic matter and highly productive. This is a high organic matter silty clay loam soil. You can see Sunflowers in the photo. These were planted with a White VE series planter equipped with Precision Planting technology. Sunflowers are extremely difficult to singulate due to their inconsistent size. With precision planting technology, White/Challenger planters are proving to be one of the most accurate planters in the market.

 

Several farmers, after seeing the incredible stand we were able to achieve, asked how much our planter costs. After a few calculations we determined that a farmer could buy a new VE series Challenger/White planter every other year on the yield improvement he could realize from precise singulation. Note the weeds pictured were in a check strip that our crop tour partner, Syngenta, had left to show weed pressure.

Several farmers, after seeing the incredible stand we were able to achieve, asked how much our planter costs. After a few calculations we determined that a farmer could buy a new VE series Challenger/White planter every other year on the yield improvement he could realize from precise singulation. Note the weeds pictured were in a check strip that our crop tour partner, Syngenta, had left to show weed pressure.

 

Thanks to our Crop Tour 2016 farm hosts in Russia.

Thanks to our Crop Tour 2016 farm hosts in Russia.

 

Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes; 30,000 after a hard rain

Most of the corn in the region I travelled was between V5 and V7 growth stages. It is important to have adequate nitrogen and water at this stage because the corn plant is setting number of kernel rows per ear around V6. While number of kernel rows per ear is highly influence by genetics, environmental conditions do play a role.

Most of the corn in the region I travelled was between V5 and V7 growth stages. It is important to have adequate nitrogen and water at this stage because the corn plant is setting number of kernel rows per ear around V6. While number of kernel rows per ear is highly influence by genetics, environmental conditions do play a role.

Crops in Minnesota have had a tough time getting started due to cool, wet weather this spring. This week was no exception.  The lake in the background of this picture is a result of over three inches of rain the night before.  Pictured in the photo are Rick Sparks and John Menssen, both AGCO employees.  Rick is an agronomist and product specialist for the region.  John farms and is a Key Account Manager for Ziegler CAT. What I love about AGCO is the passion our employees have for agriculture. Here we were checking stands. This field was planted using prescriptions from Farmer’s Edge, in collaboration with Fuse Technologies for Crop Tour 2016.

Minnesota precision ag 2.jpg

Elevation map taken from “as applied” data collected from the GPS receiver, shown in FieldView. Agronomists use elevation data along with NDVI, yield data, and soil productivity information to make population decisions. Visualization above through Climate’s FieldView, a Fuse connected partner. Note the missing portion of the “as applied” map where the lake can be seen in the previous picture. Below you can see the variable rate prescription from Farmer’s Edge that was applied. Varying seeding rates increases yield on highly productive soils while not wasting seed on poorer soils. The red areas shown below were seeded at 20,000 plants per acre.

Minnesota precision ag 3.jpg

 

 

Above: 36,000 plants per acre in highly productive loam soils. Below: 20,000 plants per acre in poorer gravelly soils.

Above: 36,000 plants per acre in highly productive loam soils.
Below: 20,000 plants per acre in poorer gravelly soils.

One of the most rewarding things about working in agriculture is the opportunity to interact with farmers around the world. They are working hard to sustainably produce crops so that future generations can continue to enjoy the lifestyle. It’s hard work but I have not met a farmer yet that would rather be doing anything else.  More to come from Crop Tour 2016!

 

Darren Goebel is the Director Global Commercial Crop Care, for AGCO’s Global Product Management Group. Connect with Darren on Twitter @Agronomist_IN.

 

 

AGCO Planting Options Offer Speed and Accuracy

Most farmers view seeding as the most important task they complete each year. With few exceptions, the old axiom, “How you start is how you’ll end,”   holds true in crop production. If seed is not planted at a uniform depth, into moisture and with proper seed furrow closure, it will come up erratically at best.   Poor spacing and uneven emergence are two major yield limiters that must be avoided.  At the same time, it’s important to get the crop in the ground in time to take advantage of the growing season, while there is still moisture for the crop to germinate and emerge. In addition, many growers are expanding their acreage to spread fixed costs and improve profitability, which puts even more pressure on the need for efficiency and accuracy at seeding. Fortunately, both the Sunflower 9800 series single disk drill and the White 9800VE series planter lineup combined with the power and precision of Fendt tractors solve these problems with ease. Fendt

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Agro-Brief: Creating Performance Seedbeds

Sunflower

  1. Replace worn sweeps, blades, and harrows
  2. Level tillage tools
  3. Set working depths
  4. Monitor speed
  5. Avoid Compaction

Developing a good seedbed is important to get the crops off to a good start; yet often overlooked or difficult to obtain. Seedbeds need to have uniform residue distribution, loose aerated soil structure, and a level soil profile on both the surface and at the working depth of shanks or blades. As we move into spring consider the following:

REPLACE: Now is a good time to check spring tillage tools for damage and wear. Replace worn shovels, blades, and harrow components. It is difficult to do a good job with worn ground-engaging components.

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Agro-Brief: Nutrient Management – Banding

By: Darren Goebel, Director – Global Commercial Crop Care 

Banding Fertilizer

Banding Fertilizer: Single Disk Drill 6/24” Spacing and Cart

  1. Improve Farm Profitability
  2. Reduce Nutrient Losses
  3. Improve Nutrient Use Efficiency
  4. Increase Yield
  5. Reduce Nutrient Stratification

Discussion:

Growers are always looking for ways to improve farm profits, even more so in a down commodity market.  One opportunity to achieve better margins is incorporation of fertilizer banding into nutrient management programs.   Banding nutrients, as shown above, allows producers to variably apply nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, blending the right source at the right rate in the right place, at the right time.   These are the four R’s of nutrient management that improve farm profitability and promote environmental stewardship.

Why Banding?  Banding concentrates fertilizer in the root zone.   This is beneficial in several ways.   Read the rest of this entry »

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