GROWMARK Testing Crop Sensor Technology in Corn

Midwest cooperative GROWMARK is looking at how well crop sensor technology like Trimble’s GreenSeeker works in Midwestern corn fields. We talked with GROWMARK precision agriculture manager Sid Parks about GreenSeeker, which is a sensor application either mounted on equipment or handheld that senses how green the crop is with the hope of assessing how much additional nitrogen the crop needs.

“Our purpose is to see that the crop has adequate nitrogen,” Parks says. “First you calibrate the sensor across a zone that has adequate nitrogen. You then drive the application equipment across the canopy, and the GreenSeeker measures how green the crop is compared to the N rich strip, The software then tells a controller how much nitrogen might be needed by that crop in that area.”

The technology has been around for about 10 years since being developed primarily for wheat in Oklahoma and similar sensing products have been developed, like Ag Leader’s OptRx™. Parks says since the technology reads the health of the plant to determine levels in the soil, times such as this year’s drought can pose some problems.

“Nitrogen is very mobile. It’s highly influenced by temperature, by moisture, by application method. The thing the sensor can’t do is tell you if nitrogen is actually available in the soil. It’s just telling you how green the crop is,” says Parks. He goes on to say that for example, during times of plant stress from drought conditions, like the ones now hitting the crops in the Midwest, it won’t measure how much nitrogen is in the soil… just how green the crop is.

Parks says they are working with GreenSeeker in some FS GreenPlan Solutions Pursuit of Maximum Yield discovery plots and hope to have more information later this year or at least by the next planting season. He says farmers interested in GreenSeeker should talk to their GROWMARK crop specialist.

Listen to an interview with Sid here:
GROWMARK precision agriculture manager Sid Parks

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