Cotton Focus: Seed Planting And Technology

When cotton seed cost $350 per ton, the rule was to plant heavy and thin the stand later on if you needed to. But when seed hit $500 per bag, you sort of had to find a new rule book.

“Everyone with anything to do with cotton farming is aware that the genetically modified varieties have had a very big impact on agriculture. They have allowed us to improve our weed and insect control,” says Dr. Earl Vories, a USDA/ARS agricultural engineer at the University of Missouri Delta Center in Portageville. “But along with that, the cost has gone up, and there have been a lot of questions about what we can do to make sure we’re not wasting seed.”

So the research hypothesis becomes finding ways to minimizing seeding rates while maximizing yields. The most visible means to that end at the moment is site-specific, variable-rate planting, and the ability to do just that is already available.

“I am very confident in saying that we have the mechanics, the hardware, and even the software in place. If someone wants to variable-rate plant, the technology is there,” says Dr. Edward Barnes, Director, Agricultural Research at Cotton Incorporated.

What we lack, though, is the definitive data required to write the prescriptions. “One of the things that makes it difficult to say exactly how much benefit you can get with precision planting is that cotton is a great compensator,” Barnes continues. “Cotton can absorb a lot of variability in seeding rates, so it makes it very hard to collect the data it takes to make strong decisions on variable-rate planting.”

Vories agrees: “We don’t have economic data that would make us say with confidence that this is the way to go — we’ve only been working on the data for one year.” We as researchers are behind the equipment that is available. The technology to make the adjustments is there. But right now, our recommendations can’t match up with the equipment capabilities.”

Data Quest Begins

Most prescription-based applications of farm inputs starts with soil-type and yield-monitor maps.

“(Farmers) know what’s going on in a field. They know the highest yielding areas, and the lowest yielding areas,” says Vories. “One of the reasons we were able to start work on precision planting is because we are getting so much information from yield maps and Veris EC data.”

What’s lacking at the moment is an understanding of how the relationship between soil types and planting rates impacts yields. Frank Groves, Cotton Verification Coordinator for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension service has completed one year of research, and through a grant from Cotton Incorporated, will begin another three-year trial.

“We are looking at two varieties at low, medium and high seeding rates on variable soil types in three different locations in the state,” Groves says. “Ultimately, what we are shooting for is to be able to have a prescription that will fit each soil type as the planter moves across the field.”

The plots will run across light, mixed and heavy soils. Then each 12-row strip will be planted with one of five seeding rates.

“We are using a variable-rate planter, and we have a prescription, but we’re not changing it according to soil texture in this study,” says Groves. “When we harvest the plots, we’ll be able to lay the yield maps over the zones and see what seeding rate looked best in each soil zone.”

Irrigation can also impact prescriptions. For instance, there would be one seeding rate for areas of a field covered by the main span of a center pivot, another rate for the area covered by the end-gun, and yet another for areas not watered at all.

“Once we synthesize all of the information, we’ll be ready to go,” Barnes says. “Ideally we want a turn-key system that, based on the data points on soil type and yield, will give a farmer a variable-rate planting prescription that a researcher would be proud of.”

Groves agrees: “Absolutely. That is what we want to wind up with. With seed cost being what it is, ultimately our goal is to plant only as many seed as you need to.”

Leave a Reply

Variable Rate Application Stories
Nate-Dorsey-Field-Trial-Curve-Compensation
Systems ManagementField Trial: Precision Application and Curve Compensation on Sprayers
September 13, 2017
Several months ago I wrote an article about curve compensation in planters and how these systems can help create more Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsAGCO 2017 Crop Tour Highlights Precision Planting Integration, Other Insights
August 23, 2017
Last week AGCO hosted the Minnesota leg of its second annual summer U.S. Corn Belt Crop Tour at Nelson Farm, Read More
Systems ManagementAGCO to Acquire Precision Planting
July 26, 2017
AGCO and The Climate Corp. announced today that a definitive agreement has been signed for AGCO to acquire the Precision 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
Trending Articles
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
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imagery Deal
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Industry NewsEFC Systems’ FieldAlytics Now Available in Canada
September 29, 2017
According to an AgPR news release, FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSciFi in Ag: Chatbot with your Plants?
September 26, 2017
(Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
deepfield-robotics-bonirob
Robotics/Labor SaversDeepfield Robotics to Showcase Precision Agriculture Technology at Agrilevante
September 22, 2017
Deepfield Robotics is preparing to showcase its robotics and automation technologies for the agriculture market at the Agrilevante event, in Read More
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
Latest News
Ohio State
Data ManagementRecap: The Ohio State University Explores Ag Tech ROI a…
October 19, 2017
How do soybean producers begin to extract value from the vast selection of digital tools available in agriculture today? At Read More
Industry NewsAGCO, Climate Corp. Announce Digital Partnership
October 19, 2017
AGCO announced today a new digital partnership with The Climate Corp. that will provide AGCO customers the option to connect Read More
Industry NewsFieldReveal Inks Agreement with Texas Agronomy Outfit
October 19, 2017
FieldReveal has entered into an agreement with Ag Producers Cooperative of Dalhart, TX, to offer the full FieldReveal precision ag Read More
corn weather
Data ManagementSeasonal Weather Outlooks: High Risk Worth the Reward?
October 18, 2017
Often, when discussing weather service needs with a potential client, I am asked about the possibility of providing long-range weather Read More
Industry NewsAgDNA Announces Dealership Expansion
October 18, 2017
This week AgDNA surpassed their growth projections, announcing partnerships with eight new multi-store dealerships across the mid-west, mid-south and east Read More
Tomato-crop-India
AsiaIndia Maps 185 Districts Through Remote Sensing for Hor…
October 17, 2017
India’s Union Ministry of Agriculture has mapped 185 districts under a project using remote sensing technology to identify areas best Read More
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient …
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
Vector-and-Raster-image
Data ManagementUsing Vector Soil Data in a Raster World?
October 16, 2017
Why spend the time and resources to extract the NRCS ‘Soil SURvey GeOgraphic’ (SSURGO) soil polygons only to display the Read More
Precision Irrigation
Precision Irrigation4 Important Ways Precision Technology Is Impacting Irri…
October 12, 2017
Water management is becoming an increasing concern in agriculture, whether that’s dealing with too much or too little water. This Read More
DronesDroneLife: Global Ag Drone Industry Potentially Worth $…
October 12, 2017
Via DroneLife.com’s Jason Reagan: According to an August study by Esticast Research & Consulting Market Research, the global commercial drone Read More
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imag…
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Planet Labs satellite imagery
Industry NewsFarmers Edge, Planet Labs Announce Multi-Year Exclusive…
October 11, 2017
Farmers Edge announced today a strategic partnership to bring Planet’s best-in-class global monitoring platform to the Farmers Edge precision agriculture Read More
John Deere Combine Harvester at Hagen Farms
Decision Support SoftwareAg and Rail Equipment Uptime Critical for Good Harvest
October 9, 2017
Across the American Heartland, growers have started harvesting their crops for what the USDA predicts will be a good yield Read More
Ag Drone
Industry NewsBotlink, SST Announce Integration
October 6, 2017
Botlink has announced a seamless flow of actionable aerial data into the agX Platform. This integration makes it quick and Read More
corn field
Industry NewsEFC Purchases AgSolver Assets, Establishes New Sustaina…
October 6, 2017
EFC Systems announced it has purchased the assets of AgSolver Inc. The move establishes a new Agronomic Planning and Sustainabilty Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Australia/New ZealandNew Technologies vs. Agronomic Knowledge in Precision A…
October 4, 2017
As the days are getting longer and the temperature is starting to rise, Australian broadacre growers are gearing up for Read More
Field Sky Beauty shot
Industry NewsClimate, West Central Distribution Join Forces on Phosp…
October 3, 2017
To help farmers improve productivity and return on their investment, West Central Distribution and The Climate Corporation have teamed up Read More
Lettuce-with-a-binary-code
DronesYuma Growers Embrace Precision Production
October 3, 2017
From the Rose Garden at the White House, to the laser-leveled fields of Yuma, AZ (home to 90% of this Read More