There are intangible benefits for the farmer, including reduced fatigue, improved concentration, greater efficiency and simplicity. “Reduced stress at the end of every planter pass and not having to fight end rows during harvest is a paradigm shift,” Myers said. “It makes both planting and harvesting a lot easier.”

Myers said yield map analysis has become an important tool for farmers, and will be more so into the future. He warns that yield map analysis is hindered without important management data and recommends the collection and use of as-planted maps. As-planted maps provide important management details such as planting date, precipitation and temperature, hybrid, and areas planted. This can often change within a field boundary in ways that are difficult to recall.

“Producers will need to know the details of a planting operation five or 10 years down the road,” Myers said. “Planting date, for instance, can have a larger influence on yield than many of the factors causing variability within a field.”

Myers expects that the development of more advanced tools for produces will make as-planted data a necessity. Data like this is also needed to use variable-rate seeding technology. Equipment is now capable of planting different amounts of seed in areas of the same field, based upon yield, soil or landscape variability.

But Myers cautions that “the agronomy is behind the technology.” Farmers should consider on-farm research as a key tool for making variable-rate seeding work. Local and multiyear data from check areas or test strips in contrasting parts of a field can help producers see if they are getting good variable-rate prescriptions.

“Seeding rate response in corn can vary a lot from year to year,” Myers says. “A multiyear perspective is needed to dial in on the correct range of seeding rates.” New technology and accurate record keeping will help producers make those decisions in the future.

 

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