Southern States: 5 Tips for Variable-Rate Seeding Success

Dave Swain (left), precision ag specialist, at Southern States
Dave Swain (left), manager of precision ag technologies at Southern States Cooperative (SSC), reviews imagery with an SSC precision ag adviser.

Success comes from taking advantage of every opportunity you can.

One technique used in precision farming, called variable rate seeding, helps growers seize untapped opportunities in their own fields. Variable rate seeding, or VRS, is the practice of dynamically adjusting the amount of seeds planted in areas of fields based on location-specific information on fertility and other factors that affect yield, writes Southern States Cooperative’s Chris Carter, Communications Coordinator for the CropLife 100 No. 8-ranked retailer.

Advanced technology continues to push the limits and allow growers to optimize every resource. With variable rate programs, growers have the opportunity to use crop data and focus resources to maximize plant health, ensuring efficient use of  inputs. Variable rate programs include fertilization, seeding, and weed control, as well as the application of water to your fields.

Don’t let the word “advanced” intimidate you. The implementation procedure is really not much different than determining a regular yield goal, and it requires basically the same information. While VRS requires a bit more crop management, the return on investment could truly exceed your expectations.

If you are thinking about starting a VRS program, here are five considerations to help you better understand the process.

Availability of Water

Whether or not a field has irrigation influences VRS decisions. Dave Swain, Manager of Precision Ag Technologies at Southern States Cooperative, says the water factor helps set your population goal range. “An irrigated field typically has the potential to handle a higher population of seed.”

A traditional center pivot irrigation system will apply a steady and uniform stream of water to a field. Within a single field, however, there are often many different variables that influence irrigation needs, such as soil type, topography, the shape of the field, and different types of crops.

Variable rate irrigation systems will take into account the variations in a field and apply water accordingly. With data gathered to classify and map zones on the field, GPS technology positions nozzles according to the management zone. Working from the existing retrofitted center pivot system, nozzles will turn on over drier areas and shut off over already wet areas.

The travel speed is also adjusted to account for variations in the field.

Grower Practices

Another VRS consideration involves looking at the current methods of the grower.

“A grower’s fertilization practices and how aggressive they are with plant populations to begin with can affect what changes must be made in a VRS plan,” Swain says. “When planning VRS, we sit down with a grower to learn their current practices and how they fit in to a VRS program.”

Seed Traits

How a variety of corn responds in its current conditions also has a large impact on the population of seed that should be planted. Because VRS involves increased seed populations in certain areas, growers have to account for that change and adjust their practices accordingly.

“Because there are more seeds, there will be more corn plants to provide for, so you will need to adjust how you manage this,” Swain says. “Simply knowing that you may need to alter some practices is the first step.”

Soil Conditions

Soil sampling and testing helps to determine how the soil will react to a larger population, so agronomists will study the results to map out where the best yield potential lies. “Analyzing the soil will tell you if you have an opportunity for a higher return,” Swain says.

You won’t need additional soil tests if you already practice site-specific or grid sampling. Composite samplers might need to change their sampling methods, however.

Soil that has favorable nutrient content and moisture levels can actually handle an increased seed population. Using a higher seed count on more productive areas of fields and a lower seed count on less productive areas helps growers take full advantage of their land, maximizing their seed investment and increasing their crop’s productivity.

Swain says that VRS attempts to match seeding rates with soils that can handle a higher seed population. “Under favorable conditions, seeds do not rob each other of nutrients, moisture and other inputs. It’s when seeds compete for inputs that productivity is compromised.”

State of Mind

Growers starting a VRS program should keep in mind that different populations have different needs. “You may have to change how the population is managed under VRS,” Swain says.

For instance, higher populations of seed may need additional nutrients to reach their full potential, and growers should stay alert for any problems in the field, as denser populations of plants may increase the possibility of disease issues as well.

Still, even if VRS requires a bit more crop management, the payoff is well worth it. Overall, the results of the Southern States VRS program for corn have been positive. “We’ve had great responses so far and the market for VRS continues to grow,” Swain says. “It’s proving to be a good return on investment.”

For more information on VRS recommendations, visit southernstates.com/precisionag.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Southern States: 5 Tips for Variable-Rate Seeding Success

  1. most soil type variations in a field under irrigation are not that large so the cost will exceed any advantage of VR irrigation.

Data Management Stories
Data ManagementWinField United Details Upgraded ‘Insights’ Capabilities
November 21, 2017
WinField United has made several strategic investments to strengthen its total agronomy solution for retail and farmer customers, according to Read More
Field
Data ManagementThe Climate Corp., Deveron Form Drone Analytics Partnership
November 16, 2017
The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., has announced a partnership with Deveron UAS Corp., that will deliver farmers Read More
Soybean-Field-Photo-Barbara-Eckstein
Data ManagementWeather Forecasting: How Does It Work, and How Reliable Is It?
November 14, 2017
Do you ever wonder exactly how the weather forecast is made? And how good are they, really? In last month’s Read More
Data ManagementAgGateway Grain Transfer Proof of Concept Shows Promise
November 10, 2017
We talk about closed-loop systems quite a bit in modern production agriculture. Having a closed-loop, or completely self-contained, system is Read More
Trending Articles
Used Combine
Service ProvidersFinding New Precision Ag Opportunities in Older Equipment
November 15, 2017
Whether to buy new or used equipment has been and continues to be an important topic for growers. When it Read More
Blue River Tech See and Spray prototype in CA
Business ManagementIs the Agtech Startup Boom Over?
November 13, 2017
In the past few months there has been a flurry of acquisitions of agtech startups by major players in the Read More
Spray Drift
Business ManagementProtecting Your Business with Ag Data: What Dicamba Can Teach Us (Guest Column)
November 9, 2017
All over the country, in ag communities large and small, farmers are reporting crop damage, neighbors are fighting, lawsuits and Read More
Kokoda-Trek2
Australia/New ZealandPrecision Agriculture in Papua New Guinea
November 2, 2017
I recently spent two weeks in the Central Highlands area of Papua New Guinea (PNG) on the Kokoda Track. The Read More
Robotic-Field-Scanner
Specialty CropsOpinion: Agriculture’s Big Data is Coming to You
October 20, 2017
If you think your world is changing at a dizzying pace, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. That’s my takeaway from Read More
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient Use Efficiency
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Latest News
EuropeAgritechnica 2017: 5 Quick Takeaways from World’s Top F…
November 21, 2017
Agritechnica 2017 wrapped up this past weekend, and now with the show in the books and a few days to Read More
FOTO-CAPA
AmericasAgricultural Drones in Brazil: A Look at Training and P…
November 21, 2017
Technology adoption usually occurs in stages. In agriculture, it progresses best when new innovations are spurred by competition, and the Read More
Data ManagementWinField United Details Upgraded ‘Insights’…
November 21, 2017
WinField United has made several strategic investments to strengthen its total agronomy solution for retail and farmer customers, according to Read More
Service ProvidersSciFi in Ag: Smart Pills for Cows (and other livestock)
November 21, 2017
On November 13th of this year, the FDA approved the first digital pill for human-use with a digital ingestible sensor. Read More
bayer-bosch-weed-detection
Tools & Smart EquipmentState-of-the-Art Weed Detection Technology Could be Ava…
November 20, 2017
As part of a three-year research partnership between two German agricultural and tech giants, Bayer and Bosch are developing smart Read More
DronesDrones Play Critical Role in Ohio Agricultural Research
November 17, 2017
The Springfield Beckley-Municipal Airport now has a new hangar for unmanned aircraft and precision agriculture, writes Allyson Brown on GovTech.com. Read More
Iowa-Farmer China
AsiaIowa Farm a Model for Modernizing China Agriculture
November 16, 2017
The buddy seat on Rick Kimberley’s combine-harvester is a fine vantage point from which to observe precision farming. The combine’s Read More
Field
Data ManagementThe Climate Corp., Deveron Form Drone Analytics Partner…
November 16, 2017
The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., has announced a partnership with Deveron UAS Corp., that will deliver farmers Read More
aggateway
Service ProvidersAgGateway Recognizes Leaders at 2017 Annual Conference
November 16, 2017
At its annual conference last week, AgGateway honored individuals and companies that are advancing electronic connectivity efforts in agriculture and Read More
corn field
UncategorizedTopcon Agriculture Prepares to Release Horizon 4.02
November 15, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has announced the addition of new functions including Auto Turn and Steer to Boundary applications in its upcoming Read More
Used Combine
Service ProvidersFinding New Precision Ag Opportunities in Older Equipme…
November 15, 2017
Whether to buy new or used equipment has been and continues to be an important topic for growers. When it Read More
John-Deere-Air-Carts
Systems ManagementJohn Deere 1910 Air Carts Can Now Be Retrofitted with S…
November 14, 2017
Intelligent Agricultural Solutions, LLC (Intelligent Ag), a leader in electronics innovations for modern farming, has released Engage Zone Control, the Read More
Climate FieldView Script Creator
EuropeThe Climate Corp. Expands Global Digital Agriculture Pl…
November 14, 2017
The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., has announced at Agritechnica, the world’s leading trade fair for agricultural machinery, Read More
Soybean-Field-Photo-Barbara-Eckstein
Data ManagementWeather Forecasting: How Does It Work, and How Reliable…
November 14, 2017
Do you ever wonder exactly how the weather forecast is made? And how good are they, really? In last month’s Read More
Topcon_TAP
Decision Support SoftwareTopcon Agriculture Introduces New Connected Agricultura…
November 13, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has introduced TAP, the Topcon Agriculture Platform, a cloud-based agricultural ecosystem designed to provide real-time monitoring and data Read More
Topcon A6
Systems ManagementTopcon Agriculture Adds ISOBUS Communication to Opus Co…
November 13, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has added industry-leading ISOBUS universal terminal and task controller functionality to the Opus A6 and A8 consoles. The Read More
Blue River Tech See and Spray prototype in CA
Business ManagementIs the Agtech Startup Boom Over?
November 13, 2017
In the past few months there has been a flurry of acquisitions of agtech startups by major players in the Read More
Data ManagementAgGateway Grain Transfer Proof of Concept Shows Promise
November 10, 2017
We talk about closed-loop systems quite a bit in modern production agriculture. Having a closed-loop, or completely self-contained, system is Read More