Premier Crop Systems

For over 20 years, we’ve been empowering growers to get the most out of their fields through data driven decisions. Premier Crop makes it easy for you to find solutions that will impact profitable yield. We analyze all parts of your field, with your data, to make sure you implement the very best prescription possible. But we don’t stop there. We also work to maximize your profits by generating new knowledge from your fields that help you better understand agronomic and economic relationships. And the best part is, all you have to do is farm. We take care of the rest.

Measuring hybrid and variety performance

The age-old agronomy equation is, "Yield Equals Genetics (G) by Environment (E) by Management (M)." There is a lot of focus on using data to measure hybrid and variety performance, in other words, to sort out the "G" part of the equation. That can start with your own data, and it can also include being part of group, pooled or community data. This allows you to anonymously see yield results from both genetics you planted and didn't plant. Being able to filter results by rainfall, GDU's and soils helps to address the factors that make up the "E" factor and get closer to apples-to-apples comparisons.

Many times, group data analytics generate results that reduce the comparisons to a single number – the average yield per acre for each hybrid or variety. This can have the effect of "masking" the deeper story in the data. Read more about using data to measure hybrid and variety performance.

Scrutinize ROI

Increasing return on investment for every input is clearly on the mind of every grower. They are in an economic squeeze, but that doesn't mean they won't invest more in crops. It does mean they are scrutinizing every dollar they spend. The current success measure now goes beyond yield increase to include which inputs offer better return on investment.

The times and economics associated with managing your seed investment have changed and deserve more attention. The return on investment for managing your seed investment within fields through variable rate seeding has never been higher. How do you know your ROI on variable rate seeding? For Premier Crop, the answer has always been tying input cost to the as-planted or as-applied fields, adding all input, land, management costs to generate a cost per bushel map for each field. It’s time to scrutinize ROI and invest wisely in your operation.

Why Hybrid and variety yield vary

When using plot data to select hybrids and varieties, the fact that there is only one winner does not mean you scrap other genetics from your line up. Big data analytics, like those used by Premier Crop, has been referred to as a way of "crowd sourcing" hybrid and variety selection. Same as with plot results, it's important to look deeper than what hybrid or variety appears to have "won." 

The more you can sort results to match your fields and management practices, the better your own experience with specific hybrids and varieties will be. The reality is there is no right way to analyze results, but it is important to examine the data results beyond yield. We can help you understand why hybrid and variety yields vary.

testing products on your farm

Most growers are capable and have technology to test products on their farm, but aren’t taking the final step of doing an in-depth analysis. Premier Crop offers multiple testing methods including a patented scientific approach of randomized, replicated trials executed through a prescription and harvested with your own equipment. The exciting part?  You may have the technology to run these trials on your own fields. Find out why you should be testing products on your own farm.

Are you applying the right rates?

In 2005, Premier Crop trademarked a unique idea that has become a common practice with our customers. A trademark called Learning Blocks™. If you’ve conceded to the idea that your fields aren’t the same from fence line to fence line and you’re already managing your fields in zones, you’re ahead of the pack. But, are you checking your work? How do you confirm you are choosing the right rates for the zones in your variable rate planting or nutrient prescription?  Do you just trust that the prescription is right?

The concept of Learning Blocks was a way to test if the correct rates were chosen each zone, in a low-risk way. By placing small check blocks into an area that historically yields in a consistent manner, you can reliably check higher and lower rates against the rate you think is right. Learn more about how to apply the right rates using Learning Blocks.

Planning for success

How do you prepare to plan? What data is relevant, as you think about planning your next crop year? What's the relevant amount of data that you need to start farm planning?

In our case, we manage fields based on different productivity opportunities within the field. We create specific zones where you can be more aggressive or less aggressive. It’s important to have some kind of a spatial soil sample where you're capturing pH changes and organic matter changes. Nutrient changes throughout the field are a significant piece of soil tests. A certain percent of the acres are getting re-sampled every year, so that information is constantly being updated. 

By the time the crop tells you it needs something, it's too late. You've already lost yield. If an image tells you that the crop is denitrified, it's not that you shouldn't address those denitrified areas, but you've already lost yield. Our goal is to never let the plant have a bad day. That's what high yields are all about. From start to finish, you want to execute a plan where the plant never has a bad day. That's how you maximize yield and yield efficiency.

Our approach to creating a nutrient management plan is based on the fact that we want to allow our advisors, partners, and growers to get ahead when it comes to planning for the next crop season. Some advisors are having this conversation early, even before growers start combining in the fall. As we dial our focus in on helping growers create a plan before the growing season begins, we look at several things. Using a spatial soil sample as one of the foundation pieces is a large part of what we do. A spatial soil sample could be a grid sample where the field is divided into smaller sizes, giving you a number of samples within a field, two-and-a-half-acre grids are common in most areas. In other areas where the field is divided into zones, zone sampling can be driven by soils, historic imagery, or EC conductivity. Instead of capturing one sample for an entire field, they're capturing more intense, site-specific samples. Layering all these samples into one computerized system and letting data science derive the factors for you helps, rather than trying to figure it out on your own in those frustrating excel sheets.

When growers realize there are that many dollars in play, it leads them to want to do better. We're constantly surprised at how much yield response we're seeing by being ultra-aggressive and applying a high rate. We're just beginning to understand and to tap into what's possible.

Learn more about how Premier Crop can help you prepare a farm plan to achieve success on your operation.

tying in-season decisions to economics

In-season agronomic decisions are challenging and often don’t receive the attention their economic impact warrants.  It’s important to work with a trusted agronomic advisor to help generate your crop plan so you can incorporate data and economics.  Having scenarios outlined ahead of season will increase the quality of your in-season decisions, and hopefully make them easier to make. Also, consider putting in some trials with your in-season applications (on/off fungicide or different nitrogen rates) - the best data comes from your own fields.

RESPONSE TO FUNGICIDE: IT VARIES

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. Read more about response to fungicide.

Farm Analytics Show valuable insights

We could kill you with paperwork. But really, it’s about the reports and insights that we can take to be able to help growers make better decisions. A report that we walk through on our blog is our Management Zone Report. This report is almost like a report card for a grower because it showcases the cost per acre in each of the management zones. In this report, you’ll see that we’ve invested more dollars per acre for nutrients and seed. The chemical costs, operations costs, management and land are going to be flat rates, or they’re equal across each of these zones. When we get down to the very bottom of this report, we can see that we’ve invested $48 more in our A zone, our best parts of the field, than in our C zone. When we look at that break-even cost per bushel, or the amount it costs us to produce a bushel of corn, it’s $0.86 cents less in our A zone compared to our C zone, even though we spent more money to produce it. It’s amazing to actually be able to use this report to illustrate to a grower that variable rate does pay. Click here to read more about how farm analytics show valuable insights. 

Fall Tillage and cover crops

The less we disturb the soil, the more we're going to improve the soil health by allowing the fungi to continue to grow into long strands. This allows the bacteria to continue what they're degrading, or trying to decompose in that area. By doing this, we get a larger population of bacteria fungi in the soil that are a good benefit to us. Not only do they help break down the prior crops’ leaves and stock that we have left in the field, but they're also mining and bringing some of that additional N, P and K from deeper in the soil that our crops may not usually get.

Some of the other things we've noticed, especially in a wetter fall: as what we call the soil transitions or changes for us, it has more core space and more structure. In a wetter fall, we don't cut the roots like somebody else that may be doing full-width tillage does. We may leave an inch or two print, while they are sinking into the depths of their tillage layer. That definitely helps in the fall, but the nice thing with the strip-till is you get it done in the fall, and that's the last pass you do. You can come back and plant it and then spray. So it definitely reduces one or two trips out of that system for us and we're burning a lot less fuel. 

Read more about no-till farming and cover crops.