Fertilizer prices are on the rise, which leaves growers seeking to better manage their input costs. When it comes to planning for 2022, you may have a ton of questions rolling in your head such as: How can I manage costs? Is soil sampling actually worth the investment? Does variable rate fertilizer really pay?
Technology is great… when it works like it’s supposed to. Whether it’s your cell phone, computer or agriculture equipment, we’ve all had our fair share of battles with technology. Like it or not, technology isn’t going away. In fact, it’s going to continue to grow and become even more prevalent in our lives, even in agriculture. We see this every year in agriculture as we continue to add technology to our planters and combines. Monitors continue to become more complex, and tractors are driving themselves. So, where do we go from here?
I was meeting with a grower who asked the question, ‘Is the direction of Premier Crop going from a prescription company to an analytics company?’ My answer was: ‘Premier Crop has always been about analytics. We are not only a company known for analytics, but what to do with the information that is received within the data, in those analytics.
At this time of the year, it’s easy to feel like yields are largely a function of weather - temperature and rainfall. Over the years in hundreds of grower meetings, I’ve heard that sentiment repeatedly. If you are inclined to think that way, think about this scenario.
Do you remember the 90s? I was an elementary student, probably about 7 when my parents bought our first computer. I remember listening to the dial up tone to get on the internet and play the math video games that my mom had found. I also remember the incessant pop ups that also came with 90s internet. Sometimes, that’s how I feel about precision ag these days. There are a lot of pop ups that are flashy and use all the right buzz words wanting you to ‘pick me, pick me, pick me.’ However, there are several things about precision ag that these companies often leave out of their messaging that can be surprising. 5 of those things that can often surprise people are:
We can all probably think of a product, service, or brand we feel biased towards. Then think about how you make decisions on your farming operation. Do you have any bias on how different fields respond to a certain seed, fertilizer, or crop protection product? Allowing your bias to persuade field decisions can be very costly and frustrating. Your knowledge of your own farm is invaluable. Using farm analytics can enhance your decision making by removing or challenging the bias with objective analysis.
It’s the time of year where growers are thinking about whether or not to spray fungicide. We sat down with Clint Sires and Pat Mai, our Partners from InSiteCDM, to discuss how they walk through the conversation with growers around applying fungicide.
You don’t have to look very hard to find chemical manufacturers’ advertisements claiming a significant positive yield response (15, 20, 25+ bu./ac) to using one of their fungicide products. There are many effective products on the market that provide good control and protection against fungal pathogens, but advertisement claims based on ‘average trial data’ aren’t guarantees for your fields. Three critical components (a host, favorable environment, and pathogen) must come together at the same time for a plant disease to thrive. These three components are commonly referred to as the Plant Disease Triangle. Management or alteration of just one of these components prevents or reduces disease severity.
For the most part, farmers will have made their input purchasing decisions before the soil is warm enough to begin planting. Those in-season decisions that still remain can be some of the most challenging to make. Not because they’re the most financially significant, but because there are so many factors present once the crop is planted (current weather, short and long-term forecast, crop condition, grain markets, fluctuating input prices, and an endless list of tasks to complete). All of these factors can have an influence, consciously or sub-consciously, on a grower’s ability to make an effective in-season decision.
To efficiently collect data on your farming operation, it’s important to have a good plan and keep notes as you go, collect in a timely manner, and verify that data matches what happened throughout the season. There are many data points that need to be collected, verified, and entered to get a full-scope picture of your operation for analytics purposes.