Corn stover baling machines rolled across 2,500 acres of harvested cornfields last fall on Mike and Lyle Greenfield’s Jewell, Iowa, farm. The Greenfields’ stover is headed to DuPont’s new 30-million-gallon cellulosic ethanol plant in nearby Nevada, Iowa.
Precision ag expert Dan Frick analyzes four data layers to understand how costs per bushel vary within a field. Here, he looks at potassium soil test, yield and cost per bushel to determine where the field getting the most per acre.
A 120-foot-wide ribbon of deep-rooted switchgrass spools along the Yellow Medicine River, a meandering prairie stream that winds through Doug Albin’s Minnesota farm. For decades, this stream-side grass strip has filtered out pollutants in surface runoff from adjacent cropland.
Integrating financial data and geo-referenced field data is the most sophisticated level of precision ag management, says Dan Frieberg, president of Premier Crop Systems. Precision software captures direct input costs for every 60x60-foot square of the field. The software also allocates indirect expenses by bushel, including insurance, equipment and land costs.
Precision ag expert Kevin Kruize uses three steps to create management zones in a corn-soybean rotation field. Those steps include pulling data from different precision sources, analyzing data layers and compare productivity and defining preliminary management zones.
Intense rainstorms stripped fertile soil from unprotected farm fields across the Corn Belt last spring. Parts of east-central and northwest Iowa lost as much as 24 tons of topsoil per acre in May, according to Daily Erosion Project estimates.
Are you thinking about trying a cover crop next fall? It’s never too early to plan, and secure your seed supply. “Be very informed before you start. Talk to experienced cover croppers. Do your homework," says Nick Bowers, cover crop seed dealer.
Growing crops is always a gamble. That’s why Jeremy Hopper runs the numbers. Hopper manages several thousand acres of row cropland near Tiptonville, Tenn. Precision data guides his agronomic decisions and helps him hone his operation.
Jeremy Hopper, Tiptonville, Tenn., uses precision data to make many agronomic and management decisions. Using field maps and data, he can see yield distribution and evaluate hybrid performance, as well as influence irrigation and row spacing choices.
You plan years ahead for crop rotation, fertilizer and machinery acquisitions. Since the rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds, you should be doing the same for your herbicide program, says Lisa Behnken, a Minnesota Extension crops specialist.
Though fertile — in a good year the Braggers raise 200-bushel corn and 50-bushel soybeans — their clay-loam hills are very vulnerable to water erosion. It’s the kind of terrain that some believe should not be cropped at all. Yet the Braggers farm this fragile land intensively, achieving high yields with little soil loss.
Corn rootworms in this longtime continuous-corn field seem to have become immune to the Cry3Bb1 trait, the most common source of transgenic rootworm protection, says Keith Schrader, who farms with his sons near Nerstrand, Minn. In 2011, YieldGard VT Triple knocked out just 25% of corn rootworms in this field, compared to an expected kill rate of more than 95% in fields where the trait works, says Ken Ostlie, University of Minnesota Extension entomologist.