This planting season, more than 150 farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota are trialing the first offering from Monsanto’s Integrated Farming SystemsSM (IFS) research platform – FieldScriptsSM. With FieldScripts planted on more than 8,300 acres in Illinois, Ground Breakers® farmers there are impressed with how FieldScripts revolutionizes variable rate planting.
FieldScripts integrates Monsanto’s understanding of hybrid performance with the data farmers provide about their individual fields to identify the best hybrids and provide a variable rate planting prescription for each field. The process is led by FieldScripts Certified Dealers, delivered through the FieldView® Plus app on the farmer’s iPad®, and executed with precision equipment on the planter.
Ground Breakers farmer Mark Sturtevant in Carroll County, Ill. has planted several fields with FieldScripts and is excited about bringing together Monsanto’s knowledge of hybrid performance in multiple yield environments with the latest planter technologies, “If we can harness this technology, we’ll be able to increase our yield and profit potential. We’re working to put the right seed, at the right amount, on every acre. FieldScripts is a step in the right direction for the industry.”
While many farmers own variable rate planters, there has not been a simple and accurate way to utilize them. Traditionally, variable rate seeding has been based on soil type or normalized yield, but these methods fall short of revealing the true picture of what is happening in the field or providing a means to plant accurately using that information.
FieldScripts allows the farmer to accurately plant a lower seeding rate in lower-yielding areas of the field, and a higher seeding rate at higher yielding areas of the field, maximizing the yield potential of every seed. Monsanto research has shown that FieldScripts delivers a 5-10 bushel per acre yield advantage across the field as a whole, as compared with fields not planted with FieldScripts. In 2014, Monsanto plans to launch FieldScripts that will be delivered to farmers through FieldScripts Certified DEKALB® seed dealers.
FarmLogs, the leading agricultural tech startup that helps farmers plan, manage and analyze their farm’s operations, announced the launch of its all-new mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. The apps make it incredibly easy to keep track of everything that happens in the field in real time. The FarmLogs apps are now available for free download in iTunes and in the Google Play store.
The FarmLogs mobile applications allow farmers to log records as they work in the field, in the shop, or anywhere else. Field activities such as planting, fertilizing, and harvesting can be quickly logged and tracked right from the GPS-enabled mobile apps. Multiple team members can track activities and make updates in real time. Additional app features will be rolled out later this year.
Nothing like a little snow in May to really slow down a planter!
This photo from Minnesota was posted last week on the Case IH Facebook page. Despite the snow, Minnesota farmers did manage to get two percent of their corn crop in the ground last week, but they should have over half of it planted by now.
Nearly 50% of the crop nationwide should be planted by now in an average year, but only 12% was planted as of Sunday according to USDA. Last year at this time, nearly 70% of the crop was planted.
There was more progress last week than in recent weeks, even in states that saw more white stuff on the ground. Minnesota, Michigan, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin all finally got a few points on the board after making no progress in the previous weeks. Illinois, Indiana and Iowa move up a few notches from 1-2% to 7-8%. But, again, all should be at or nearing the halfway point by now.
Emergence is far behind normal as well with 11 of the 18 top corn producing states showing no corn above ground yet. Just three percent of the crop has emerged compared to 29% last year and 15% average.
Not to worry yet, however. “It is still early in the planting season and slow progress at this point should not cause alarm,” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson, a grower in Iowa. “Modern farming technology has dramatically reduced the time needed for farmers to plant a large number of acres, and this means we can begin planting much later if need be.”
And a little cooperation from Mother Nature would help.
You’ve spent some good money to treat those seeds before you plant them in the ground. But the dust that forms when the treated seeds rub together and rub off those expensive treatments is more than a loss of protection and an irritant for workers – it’s like money blowing away in the wind. Charlie Hale, marketing strategy and support lead for Becker Underwood says that’s why having the right polymer is so important.
“You might think of the polymers as glues that glue those solids on to the seed surface, but they are also designed these days to help fill in the spaces between the particles to make the seed smoother,” cutting down on that friction that creates that dust. Charlie adds that Becker Underwood’s new Flo Rite® 1706 plantability polymer does all that and gives you more uniform plant distribution out in the field. He also points out that losing protection for that seed also means a loss in yield potential. “With today’s prices for grain, we lose significant amounts of money, just because we haven’t kept that protection on the seed.”
Charlie says Becker Underwood has two formulations for legumes, two for corn and another one on the way for cotton. He says this is the third generation of the Flo Rite products for soybeans and corn, so his company has some experience to bring to the table. They’ve got it down to producing almost no dust, no matter how aggressively it gets rubbed.
He cautions that growers who think they can cut down on dust really aren’t gaining anything. “Yeah, [a half rate] does [cut down on dust]. But you still are losing protection.” You want to put on and keep on everything that you’ve invested. And he thinks the latest Flo Rite polymer will be near zero dust. “You get pretty close to that.”
The recent acquisition of Becker Underwood by BASF is more than just putting the two companies together. It means more research and development as each is able to look at the other’s advancements and see how they might be able to combine products for maximum efficiency
“Both companies are bringing together a lot of existing technology that we’re starting to examine to see if we can find some synergies with what we already have,” explained Kurt Seevers, field development leader for seed enhancements and biologicals, during the recent tour of the plant facility in St.Joseph, Mo. He added that going forward, they’ll also look at combining new material they are each developing.
Kurt said they might work on 750 treatments in a year, and of course, not all of them make it to market. But he said since they’ve done a lot of their prep work in the labs, more often than not, a treatment will go forward once it has hit the field testing.
He said they have some real challenges, including improving on already hot products, such as VAULT HP. “It does give us a challenge in research so we have the opportunity to take materials we’re looking at and put them in products that look really good already and see if we can make improvements that way. That’s typically how we take that next step.”
Kurt concluded that they are working on agriculture’s overall goal of feeding a growing world in a sustainable, ecologically respectful way.
Planting progress continues to be slowed by wet and cold weather in most of the major corn producing states.
According to USDA, just 5% of the U.S. corn crop was planted as of Sunday, only a percentage point of difference compared to the previous week. Last year at this time, nearly half the crop was in the ground and normally at least 30% should be planted by now. All 18 major corn producing states are behind the five year average. The only states even close are North Carolina and Texas. Every state should be showing progress in the double digits, but only six are and five have nothing in the ground yet. Another half dozen have less than 3-4% planted.
Meanwhile, the conditions and slow planting pace are impacting emergence. Just 2% of total U.S. corn has emerged, compared to 14% last year at this time and 6% on average.
Planting is definitely running behind normal in the Corn Belt, but it’s nothing to worry about just yet.
“Just stick to the original plan” when it comes to nutrient management,” says John Grandin, Senior Field Sales Agronomist at GROWMARK, Inc. “If the original plan calls for spring-applied anhydrous ammonia, then stick with spring-applied anhydrous ammonia.”
However, Grandin points out the possibility of burning corn roots or even killing the seedling if application is followed too quickly by planting. “We can manage that by putting the anhydrous ammonia on at an angle to the direction of row planting,” he said. That will help decrease the possibility of free ammonia being trapped in the knife track as a result of wetter soils. “We don’t want to be planting directly on top of the anhydrous knife track for any length of row.”
Earlier this year, Precision Planting introduced FieldView Plus, giving growers the ability to sync planting data across multiple pieces of field equipment and multiple electronic devices. Now, automatic planter performance text alerts have been added to this cloud-based system.
Doug Sauder, Product Manager, notes that the metrics and alert thresholds can be set and changed through the FieldView website at any time, and multiple phone numbers can be notified. “It’s easy to set up, easy to change and easy to keep your planting performance at the highest possible level.”
In 2013, FieldView Plus is a no-cost option for Precision Planting’s FieldView and SeedSense users. Full release is planned for the 2014 planting season as a subscription-based service.
Everything is right about the 4Rs of nutrient management – the right source, the right rate, the right time, and the right place for applying nutrients in the field.
“It actually drives a farmer to look more at a systems approach to nutrient management rather than just making an application and moving to the next step,” said Dr. Howard Brown, Manager of Agronomy Services for GROWMARK, Inc.
Brown says GROWMARK has been focused on nitrogen management as one of the driving factors for higher yields for the last several years. “We looked at nitrogen from the standpoint of feeding the plant nitrogen throughout the period of time that it needs it and putting some on as late as we can so the plant can utilize the nitrogen and keep plant health later in the season to equate to higher yields,” and it worked for three of the last four years – with last year being the exception because of the drought.
With planting season upon us, now is the time to look at a comprehensive nutrient management plan that encompasses the 4Rs and what Brown calls the “MOM” approach – Maximizing yield, Optimizing nitrogen utilization and Minimizing environmental impact. Brown also talks in this interview about “N-Watch” which involves taking inventory of plant-available nitrogen in the soil. “N-Watch provides us a new dimension,” Brown said. “We’ve got to manage the nitrogen in the soil.” Checking the soil for residual nitrogen Brown says will help provide farmers with a better idea of how much nitrogen they need.
I spoke with Andy Lavigne, ASTA President/CEO, during Commodity Classic about this project which is very timely since growers are getting ready to get back out in the field. The guide will answer questions like, “How can I protect my treated seeds; What environmental factors should I consider when planting treated seeds; Am I following state and federal regulations for treated seed and What should I do with unused treated seed?”
Right now growers have an incentive to visit and sign up for notifications at www.seed-treatment-guide.com. Two lucky people will win a $500 cash prize!
Precision Planting introduces the vDrive, a new electric drive system for use with 20/20 SeedSense and vSet meters.
According to Stoller, the vDrive replaces existing clutches, hydraulic motors and chains or cable drives. Instead, an electric drive controls each row individually, as needed, for more precise planting. Chain or cable maintenance is eliminated.
SeedSense draws on GPS, radar and gyro inputs to accurately calculate each row’s velocity. The vDrive Module (VDM) in the dust and moisture sealed motor assembly includes an encoder and closed loop control to maintain accurate population for each row in each foot of the field.
To do so at the National Farm Machinery Show I visited with Matt Wolfe. It was a busy show floor here on opening day and we thank Ag Leader Technology for their support of our coverage of this year’s show!
In this video Matt talks about the Hydraulic Down Force system which is available from the Ag Leader dealer network. Growers who want to control planter down force through the Ag Leader® Integra display can simply work with their local Ag Leader dealer to purchase and install the hydraulic actuators that will adjust down force pressure based on changing field and soil conditions instantly. Planting seed at the optimum row unit down force is an important factor in good crop germination, and ultimately, yield.
Farmers attending the Iowa Power Farming Show this week in Des Moines once again have the opportunity to participate in the show’s planting intentions survey, which has been pretty close to the USDA numbers since it started in 2008.
Farmers who register on-line can save $3 off admission and participate in the confidential survey at the same time. On-line registration is still available for the show which runs through 3 pm on Thursday and those who participate in the survey will receive the final results by email.
“With our hydraulic system we can fully adjust pressure from zero to full down force in one second or less,” said Will Cannon, product specialist for Ag Leader. “Airbag systems, because of some of the limitations with airbags themselves, it takes much longer – upwards of 20 or 30 seconds.”
With a 24 row planter at 5 mph that could mean as much as a quarter of an acre goes by before the system adjusts. “That one second is a big deal out in the field,” Cannon said.
Ag Leader’s Hydraulic Down Force System is available for this planting season for all John Deere planters and Kinze 3000 series row units. “We’ve got plans already for testing on White and Case IH planters and expect to have them available for spring of 2014,” added Cannon.
Winter is a time when farmers can look forward to spring planting, especially if stuck inside due to a winter blizzard! This next installment in our series of interviews about Superior Graphite agricultural products will get you looking ahead. In this post we’ll look at a product line called Seed SLIK. I spoke once again with Barry Lee, Product Manager, Coatings & Lubricants. We focused on Seed SLIK Graphite and Seed SLIK Talc. It is common practice to mix a seed lubricant with seeds for planting to make sure skips don’t happen where a seed does not get planted where it should. That can affect yield. Besides the seed benefit, these products are also beneficial to the machinery itself.
Graphite seed flow lubricants, are made from high quality powdered graphite powders from environmentally safe, natural mineral, and will not hurt seeds, or plantings as they grow. Small seeds benefit from the addition of graphite, allowing them to slide easily off the planter plates.
Seed SLIK Talc provides similar benefits and features as the Graphite product but has an added benefit of not affecting optical sensors, although it is susceptible to moisture. Barry says the best of both worlds is a blended Seed SLIK product which contains both graphite and talc.
Seed SLIK™ has the highest quality powdered seed flow lubricants available on the market. Talc powder is an environmentally safe, natural mineral, that will not hurt seeds or plantings as they grow. Talc seed flow lubricants are used in mechanical plate and vacuum planters for increased lubricity and wear protection. Talc is a good alternative to graphite for planters with new electronic seed meters that sometimes give false readings with graphite. Small seeds benefit from the addition of talc allowing them to slide easily off the planter plates.