VRA Seeding: Endless Variables, One Goal

Variable Rate Seeding
Illinois grower Greg Sanders says from his experience growers just getting started with VRA seeding should aim to have at least three years of normalized yield data before making prescriptions.

SST Software employee Patrick Sanders, when he’s not putting out fires for the Stillwater, OK-based ag tech outfit, helps raise corn and soybeans across 2,100 acres in Central Illinois with his father Greg Sanders, who is a fantastic source of information when it comes to collecting field data and using it in a variable-rate seeding (VRA) program.

This is mostly due to the fact that Sanders has been collecting yield data for the past decade and began making VRA planting decisions based off the data about two years ago. Sanders says that from his experience growers just getting started in VRA seeding should aim to have at least three years of normalized yield data at the ready, although five is the high-water mark.

“Prescriptions can be based on yield data from different crops, but I tend to gravitate toward using corn yield data for corn and soybean yield data for soybeans,” he says. “There’s enough difference between the two crops that I didn’t feel like we wanted to combine multiple crops together.”

Sanders points to a proprietary SST process as having been a big help in ensuring he and his father are using good, clean data, which of course makes for sounder decision making on where to place higher seed populations and where to pull back.

“SST has had a process developed over 15 years ago  called multi-year yield analysis, that allows us to take yield data from different crops, and normalize each year independently,” he explains. “The process puts yield on a scale with 100 being the average for a given year, and then it scales it up or down based on a percentage below or above average.

“The process is repeated for each season of yield data, then averaged across all seasons to derive an average normalized yield value.  This takes bushels per acre out of the process and leaves you with an index to average across multiple seasons.

“For example, a reading of 110 means you are typically 10% above average, therefore you can make the assumption that you can bump up your yield goal in that area by 10% — which means apply more seeds so you can get more bushels, add more nitrogen to feed that seed, and it ends up being something that you use across multiple decision making events.

For Sanders and the folks at SST, it’s all about historical yield data. “We have a saying at SST that nothing correlates to yield like historical yield,” he says. “Utilizing that approach we tend to bump up seeding rates in areas with a high index as we believe the investment in more seed will typically return more dollars per acre.”

In the historically-lower yielding areas of his fields, Sand­ers advocates a more conservative approach.

“So you might know that based on history that area doesn’t typically do well. There’s no reason to put more fertilizer down, there’s no reason to put more seed down because the rate of return from that area is not as significant, so you’re not really trying to level out the field as much as you’re trying to exaggerate the higher yielding areas and get more return out of those, and then save inputs on the lower yielding areas.”

The Next Step: Combining Data & History

Sanders and his dad then take everything one step further by combining the yield data with historical knowledge of the field to identify areas they deem unstable, where in a drought year the ground will perform admirably well, but if too much moisture comes into play the duo could be left with a complete loss.

“A temporal stability map (in SST Summit) shows you areas that are typically stable whether that be typically high, average or low yielding ,” he says. “What you are after with stability maps is finding those areas where production levels change significantly from season to season. The final step is combining the average normalized yield layer and the temporal stability layer to derive a layer we call ‘management units.’

“The management units map pulls out high, average, and low yielding areas, as well as unstable areas, which gives you the opportunity to treat an unstable area a little bit different,” Sanders continues. “If you feel like the upcoming season will be a little bit wetter or dryer than normal it allows for a change to our seeding practices to meet the level of risk we are willing to take in an unstable area.”

In closing, Sanders says that any grower can have the most accurate yield data, all perfectly normalized and they can still be missing a couple major components, one being the trusted advisor.

“In the end it all comes down to the local agronomist and the hybrid choice because you can make the best variable rate seeding recommendation, but if you’re not taking into account the hybrid that you’re going to plant and its response to changing the seeding rate, hybrid choice is a big part of making the right prescription for the field.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “VRA Seeding: Endless Variables, One Goal

Guidance Stories
Hagie sprayer
GuidanceWhat’s New and What’s Next from Hagie Manufacturing
May 16, 2017
Many were surprised by John Deere’s announcement last spring that it had acquired majority ownership of Hagie Manufacturing Co., a Read More
GuidanceTersus adds RTK-Based AutoSteer System to GNSS Offerings
May 8, 2017
Tersus GNSS Inc., a Chinese GNSS RTK manufacturing company, released its brand new AutoSteer solution recently. The AG960 AutoSteer System Read More
GuidanceTopcon Debuts SI-21 Lightbar for X-Family of Displays
February 28, 2017
Topcon Agriculture announces the release of the SI-21 Lightbar, designed as a cost-effective, user-friendly product to complement manual guidance, providing Read More
GuidanceTopcon Launching New X35 In-Cab Display Console
February 27, 2017
Topcon Agriculture introduces the new X35 — the next generation in the X-Family of touchscreen displays with advanced functionality. Designed Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Quantix Drone Farmer
DronesTop 10 Most Intriguing Technologies in Agriculture
June 3, 2017
This may be a bit of stating the obvious here, but we’ll throw it out there anyways: as much as Read More
Farming iPad
Data ManagementOpinion: ROI or Die in Precision Agriculture
May 12, 2017
The thought of $3.50 corn for the foreseeable future seems pretty disheartening. However, if you look at the precision ag Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision Ag Means For Growers
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More
Mung beans Australia
InternationalPrecision Ag in a Tough Season in Australia
May 8, 2017
This year’s summer crop season has been a tough one for most growers in Australia. Prolonged periods of high temperatures Read More
Latest News
Data ManagementCDMS Announces SeedIQ Acquisition
June 26, 2017
Crop Data Management Systems, Inc., (CDMS) announces the acquisition of SeedIQ as part of its growth plan to provide complete Read More
Cotton closeup
Imagery/SensingCotton Growth Management with Precision Agriculture
June 20, 2017
A cotton crop presents some important differences to other commodities that are widely produced in Brazil, such as soybean and Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsCNBC: Inside Amazon’s Whole Foods Takeover
June 20, 2017
Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods sent the stock of competing grocery chains plummeting. To understand why, you need to know Read More
DronesNavigating a New World: Drone Technology in Agriculture…
June 20, 2017
My first exposure to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was as a master’s student at Kansas State University. I was researching Read More
Precision Ag Innovation Series
EventsInnovation Series Agenda Zeroes In On Maximizing Key Se…
June 14, 2017
In a recent survey of service providers conducted by PrecisionAg® Professional magazine, more than seven in 10 indicated that variable Read More
Soil Scientists
Data ManagementAccessing USDA Soil Data for Precision Farming
June 13, 2017
Many precision farming websites have integrated the USDA NRCS soil survey database using the USDA Soil Data Access web portal. Read More
GEOSYS In-Season Imagery
Decision Support SoftwareGeosys Announces Imagery and Weather Data Offering
June 13, 2017
Geosys, a provider of agronomic decision support tools, today launched Geosys Labs, a new program that will make its global Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Decision Support SoftwareMyriad Mobile Raises $1.5 Million to Launch New Ag-Tech…
June 12, 2017
Myriad Mobile, a software technology company focused on mobile and web applications, has raised $1.5 million in a Pre-Series A Read More
center-pivot-irrigation-drop-sprinklers-on-corn
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable-Rate Fertigation Can Be Simple
June 12, 2017
A rule is a rule is a rule, right? Well, not always. Sometimes, rules are meant to be changed. Most Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Sensors/IoTLeveraging IoT to Improve Data Collection for Agricultu…
June 12, 2017
Between population growth and climate change, farms of all sizes are being challenged to increase yields. Internet of Things (IoT) Read More
DronesAg Drone Update: The Hunt for 1,000 (OPINION)
June 10, 2017
Having obtained my FAA Part 107 Commercial Drone Operators license back in September of last year, I’ve spent the past Read More
Industry NewsMergers & Acquisitions: Land O’Lakes Tosses E…
June 9, 2017
Land O’Lakes has made a minority equity investment in EFC Systems, an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and precision solution provider Read More
Mixmate-featured-image
Decision Support SoftwareHandy Software, Hardware for the Field
June 7, 2017
More than two decades ago, Iowa grower Doug Applegate wished for a “little portable chemical blending system” that could easily Read More
Decision Support SoftwareHarnessing A Team To Build Your Own Software
June 7, 2017
What’s a powerhouse retail network to do when it can’t find a software system to meet incredibly diverse needs? Build Read More
Tim Ferrell Marshall County Co-op
Decision Support SoftwareWhen It’s Time To Switch Software
June 7, 2017
No one in their right mind wants to change software. That’s the opinion of Tim Ferrell, manager of Marshall County Read More
PA Special Report Enterprise
Decision Support SoftwareSpecial Report: Enterprise Management Systems
June 7, 2017
A functional and stable software system can allow a retail operation to run at maximum efficiency, build customer loyalty and Read More