Dale Crawford has his own crop-scouting drone...sitting in the basement. The Sullivan, Ill., corn and soybean grower bought the Canadian-built, CropCam fixed-wing-style, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) after seeing one at Commodity Classic about five years ago. He was intrigued by the idea of doing aerial photos for his fields and possibly others.
If you lack focus below the soil, on your crop root environment, then these critical plant pathways won't efficiently transport water and nutrients into place for top yields. To build healthy roots, start with the basics, suggests Bruce Potter, integrated pest management specialist, University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center.
Are you growing a crop for the next harvest or farming for the future?
Trend-setter advocates increasingly believe that a farming for the future philosophy is critical. Farmers who build a long-term base of soil health as the foundation for long-term profits will be miles ahead compared to simply growing next year's crop. Researchers, consultants and progressive farmers believe a more holistic, long-term approach is required to raise the bar on future productivity.
Imagine, or just push the fast-forward button: You activate your sensor network to take soil, root and leaf readings and report data. You receive temperature, moisture, plant hormone levels and more from georeferenced points. Your computer integrates them with already-identified and mapped organic matter (OM), pH and electrical conductivity (EC) zones in those fields, with the specific variety planted.
Your farm data represent dollars spent and dollars to be made. Spinning them into gold is the challenge. Farmers 50 years ago knew every field like the back of their hands, no doubt better. With bigger farms and more fields, truly knowing a field is more likely done through data. However, with grid sampling, yield monitoring, variable-rate seeding and fertilizer applications, crop histories and more, data can overwhelm even the most analytical farmer ever.