Variable-Rate Fertigation Can Be Simple

A rule is a rule is a rule, right? Well, not always. Sometimes, rules are meant to be changed. Most people once thought the earth was flat, but the “truth” changed as new information became available.

One of the time-honored rules of corn production is that it takes a pound of nitrogen to produce a bushel of corn. That universal truth was derived in the day when the bulk of nitrogen applied was put down pre-plant, with perhaps a much smaller amount side-dressed. And the concept of variable-rate didn’t yet exist.

The reality is, as much as half of the nitrogen applied pre-plant can be lost through a variety of means, such as volatilization, denitrification and leaching below the root zone. That fact raises two questions. First, is a pound of nitrogen required to produce a bushel of corn and, second, how much more corn could be produced if more of that pound was taken up by the corn plant?

center-pivot-irrigation-drop-sprinklers-on-corn
Variable-rate application of fertilizer through the pivot allows the growing corn crop to be spoon fed just the nitrogen it needs when it needs it

Variable-rate fertigation holds the potential to answer both of those questions.

Scratching where the corn plant itches

When the one pound = one bushel rule was written, alternatives didn’t exist to the traditional approach to fertilizer application. The development of the GPS system, and the resulting emergence of grid mapping and variable-rate application began to change that. But these systems have their limitations, with equipment able to economically enter a field only so often, and only until the crop reaches a particular stage.

Pivot irrigation systems, however, don’t have those limitations. Variable-rate application of fertilizer through the pivot allows the growing corn crop to be spoon fed just the nitrogen it needs when it needs it, in a form that can be immediately taken into the plant and in the proper amount for the soil conditions in a given field sector. Plus, application can occur at any stage in crop development.

Universal variable-rate fertigation

With many different pivot systems in use throughout the U.S., it would be natural to assume that equipping a given machine to deliver variable rates of nitrogen would be extremely challenging. While this can be the case, some injection management systems offer universal variable-rate fertigation capabilities.

For example, Agri-Inject, a leading developer and manufacturer of fluid injection technology, has incorporated universal variable-rate fertigation (uVRF) capabilities into their reflex Proportional Injection System.

“The reflex system enables a producer to apply variable rates of fertilizer to different field sectors, without the aid of any other control system,” explains Agri-Inject CEO Erik Tribelhorn. “So, whether the pivot utilizes the latest control technology or is run with a percent time and on/off switch, reflex will work with it.”

With uVRF controlled by reflex, you can put the desired amount of fertilizer on any sector you define regardless of whether you’re applying water at a flat rate or doing sector-based variable-rate irrigation. The reflex unit will increase or decrease the injection rate depending on each sector and the speed of the pivot.

“Another advantage of the reflex system is that it is not wire based, but rather communicates by radio,” Tribelhorn notes. “As a result, the control panel does not have to be located at the pivot center. That means the control panel, injection point, and fertilizer tank can be located at the well or irrigation pump, greatly improving accessibility.”

The rules of the game have changed, but it’s not hard to play. Innovations like the reflex injection system make it easy to spoon-feed nitrogen to your corn crop throughout the growing season — no matter what irrigation system you have.

Leave a Reply to Xibin Liu Cancel reply

One comment on “Variable-Rate Fertigation Can Be Simple

Variable Rate Application Stories
South-Dakota-farm
Variable Rate ApplicationSeeing is Believing in Precision Agriculture: A Tale from the Field of Common Sense
February 27, 2018
Do you remember your first time? You know, that first variable rate application (VRA) map of one of your farmers’ Read More
Real-time-VRA-cotton
Sensors/IoTWhy Are Service Providers Slow to Adopt Crop Sensors for Nitrogen Management?
February 20, 2018
Recently, we have seen important discussions about key aspects of precision agriculture. One of these articles, about the value in Read More
Roger-DuMond-and-Brandon-Butz-Kova-Fertilizer
Systems ManagementThere’s No Easy Button For Value in Variable-Rate Nutrition
February 6, 2018
Roger Dumond has weathered the ups and downs of precision agriculture programs as much as anybody who’s been riding that Read More
N-Reference-Strips
Variable Rate ApplicationUse of Reference Strips to Determine Nitrogen Fertilizer Requirements
November 27, 2017
In the late 1990’s, Oklahoma State University (OSU) developed a way to determine nitrogen (N) fertilizer requirements, writes Wilma Trujillo Read More
Trending Articles
JDandPessl
Sensors/IoTJohn Deere, Pessl Instruments Team Up to Create Opportunities
June 18, 2018
John Deere is best known for its line of tractors, combines, sprayers, and implements. However, in an effort to help Read More
Matt-Waits-featured
Decision Support SoftwareSST’s Matt Waits: Innovative Data Solutions Key to Transforming Global Agriculture
May 31, 2018
Proagrica, part of RELX Group, earlier this year acquired U.S.-based precision agriculture solutions company, SST Software, in a move set Read More
InfoAg ConferenceThe InfoAg Conference Offers Early Bird Registration Discount
May 24, 2018
Since 1995, The InfoAg Conference has been the premier event for discussion and advancement of precision agriculture. The event, organized Read More
Ernie-Chappell-Screenshot
EventsEFC Systems Sponsorship Demonstrates Commitment to Continuing Education for Retail Dealerships
May 16, 2018
Enterprise software manufacturer EFC Systems, scholarship sponsor of the inaugural PrecisionAg® Professional Accelerator professional development conference this June in Brookings, Read More
EventsMeister Media Debuts Growing Innovations
May 10, 2018
As a service provider, you and your grower customers probably can agree on this much: While innovation abounds in agriculture, Read More
UCANR_booth_Food_IT_forum
EventsForum Calling All Innovators of Agriculture Technology
May 2, 2018
The challenges that come with feeding the world continue to grow. Luckily, so do advances in information technology that are Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsRaven Launching CR12 Field Computer in Europe this Week
June 19, 2018
Raven Industries announced the release of a new, larger field computer: the CR12. Utilizing the same functionality as the CR7 Read More
dropcopter
DronesNew York Apple Orchard Claims World First in Pollinatio…
June 18, 2018
Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard in LaFayette, NY, is the first orchard in the world to use drones to pollinate Read More
Farmer with iPad
Decision Support SoftwareAgrian Enhances Field Scouting App
June 18, 2018
Agrian has added a new feature to its robust field scouting app – a pest trap counting solution. The new Read More
AmericasMFA Precision Head Talks Precision Ag, Cover Crops at 2…
June 18, 2018
Although implicit to anyone that spends a good chunk of their career in agriculture, the link between advanced precision technology Read More
Iron Man
UncategorizedAgFunder News: Forget Self-Driving Tractors; Agricultur…
June 18, 2018
Marvel’s Iron Man suit might seem an unlikely source of inspiration for growers, writes Joseph Byrum on AgFunderNews.com. Once the Read More
Soil-Corn-plants-field
Data ManagementRemote Soil-Sensed Management Zones Help Increase Crop …
June 18, 2018
Accurate prescription maps are essential for effective variable rate technology (VRT) fertilizer application. Grid soil sampling is frequently used to Read More
JDandPessl
Sensors/IoTJohn Deere, Pessl Instruments Team Up to Create Opportu…
June 18, 2018
John Deere is best known for its line of tractors, combines, sprayers, and implements. However, in an effort to help Read More
computer-in-field
Business Management3 Questions to Ask When Looking for Your First Job in P…
June 18, 2018
Let me begin this column by extending my congratulations to all of my fellow students who have just graduated – Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversStine Seed Plunks Down $5 Million on Smart Ag’s D…
June 14, 2018
Stine Seed Farm has invested $5 million in Smart Ag Inc., an Iowa technology firm that has developed a full Read More
David-Perry-featured-image
AmericasIndigo Touts ‘New Approach to Agricultural R&…
June 13, 2018
Indigo, the Boston-based microbial crop technology startup that has raised more than $400 million, announced it is expanding its research Read More
Ag Drone
EventsAgTech Conference of the South Dedicated to Innovation,…
June 12, 2018
Join current and emerging agtech business leaders and investors at the AgTech Conference of the South, a premiere conference dedicated Read More
Munckhof Machinefabriek equipment
EuropeEurope: Precision Farming at Heart of Munckhof Deal
June 11, 2018
One of Europe’s oldest suppliers of machinery used in fruit production, the Dutch firm Munckhof Machinefabriek, has been purchased by Read More
Australian-Farmers
Australia/New ZealandCrunching the Ag-Tech Numbers Saves Time for Australian…
June 5, 2018
Time management is key on the Walker family’s farm, where a mix between cropping, commercial sheep and two studs means Read More
Drone-exhbitor-at-Drone-Show
AmericasDroneShow Highlights UAV Technology in Latin America
June 4, 2018
Editor’s note: The DroneShow Latin America is an annual trade fair hosted by MundoGEO, a media and communications company founded Read More
Imagery/SensingImagery in Agriculture: Time for a Reality Check
June 4, 2018
Where do I begin….I’ve been dealing with imagery in agriculture since I was 10 when my dad started Satshot. At Read More
AmericasNAAA Issues Drone Pilot Reminder: Watch Out For Aerial …
May 31, 2018
With more than 1 million UAVs registered with the FAA, it is vitally important for UAV operators to be aware Read More
Matt-Waits-featured
Decision Support SoftwareSST’s Matt Waits: Innovative Data Solutions Key t…
May 31, 2018
Proagrica, part of RELX Group, earlier this year acquired U.S.-based precision agriculture solutions company, SST Software, in a move set Read More
CROO Robotics’ automated strawberry harvester
Specialty CropsGrowingProduce.com: Fruit Growers, It’s Time to Mechani…
May 30, 2018
If you’re into conspiracies, you might be interested to know that I have stumbled onto a doozy. And it looks Read More