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
John Deere Operations Center
Data ManagementMaximize the John Deere Operations Center for Your Customers
August 16, 2018
Today’s farming operation looks different than it did 20, 10, even just a few years ago. Technology continues to shape Read More
Harvest
Data ManagementAre You Ready for This Year’s Digital Harvest?
August 15, 2018
As the days in the Northern Hemisphere slowly get shorter, they are getting longer in the Southern Hemisphere and everywhere Read More
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementMicrosoft, Agile Networks Detail Central Ohio Broadband Expansion Project
August 9, 2018
Agile Networks, a leading provider of telecommunications solutions, and Microsoft Corp. has announced a new agreement to bring broadband internet Read More
BigDataSmall2
Data ManagementPrecision Agriculture: A Smaller Approach to Big Data
August 7, 2018
Big data is one of the most buzzed-about concepts in our industry. Rarely do we read a newsletter, attend a Read More
Trending Articles
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in $20 Million Deal
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
1 On 1 With Paul Schrimpf: Simplot’s Allan Fetters
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One With Simplot’s Allan Fetters
August 8, 2018
Allan Fetters of PrecisionAg Institute partner Simplot Grower Solutions talks about techology trends and key learnings from the recent InfoAg Conference in this exclusive interview with PrecisionAg's Paul Schrimpf. Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
August 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
AmericasIntegrity Ag Group: People Over Precision
July 30, 2018
It’s not every day that this reporter walks into the office of a precision ag dealer, sits across from the Read More
farmer-tractor-tablet
Systems ManagementWhat is Digital Farming — Really?
July 24, 2018
The agricultural community has spent several years synthesizing an operational description for digital farming. In several cases, there have also Read More
Data ManagementInfoAg News: Farmobile Launches DataEngine, Streamlines DataStore Buyer Process
July 17, 2018
Busy times these days out in Leawood, KS, for ag data startup Farmobile, as they continue to – pardon the Read More
Latest News
John Deere Operations Center
Data ManagementMaximize the John Deere Operations Center for Your Cust…
August 16, 2018
Today’s farming operation looks different than it did 20, 10, even just a few years ago. Technology continues to shape Read More
Service ProvidersNew Ag Retail Survey Identifies Key Business Challenges
August 16, 2018
From commodity prices and competition for business to future-proofing the operation, ag retailers shared their challenges and concerns in a recent survey conducted by Proagrica. Read More
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in …
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
Harvest
Data ManagementAre You Ready for This Year’s Digital Harvest?
August 15, 2018
As the days in the Northern Hemisphere slowly get shorter, they are getting longer in the Southern Hemisphere and everywhere Read More
Wheelman-Pro
Industry NewsAgJunction Expands Automatic Steering Market to Smaller…
August 14, 2018
AgJunction, the autosteering company, has introduced Wheelman, a new way for farmers to automatically and accurately steer farm equipment at Read More
Drip-irrigation
Precision IrrigationFertigation as a Precision Agriculture Tool
August 14, 2018
Fertigation is a fertilizer application method in which dissolved fertilizers are delivered to the crop through the irrigation system. This Read More
Events5 Reasons You Should Attend Growing Innovations
August 13, 2018
The specialty crop market is wracked by unprecedented change: labor scarcity, water shortages, pressing demands for increased quality and transparency Read More
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementMicrosoft, Agile Networks Detail Central Ohio Broadband…
August 9, 2018
Agile Networks, a leading provider of telecommunications solutions, and Microsoft Corp. has announced a new agreement to bring broadband internet Read More
AmericasIvy Tech Opens Center of Excellence to Train Tomorrow&#…
August 9, 2018
Students interested in careers in precision agriculture equipment technology or diesel technology now have the opportunity to pursue certificates, technical Read More
1 On 1 With Paul Schrimpf: Simplot’s Allan Fetters
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One With Simplot’s Allan Fetters
August 8, 2018
Allan Fetters of PrecisionAg Institute partner Simplot Grower Solutions talks about techology trends and key learnings from the recent InfoAg Conference in this exclusive interview with PrecisionAg's Paul Schrimpf. Read More
Corn field sunset
Industry NewsTrimble RTX Correction Technology Now Delivers Two Cent…
August 7, 2018
Trimble has announced that its Trimble RTX GNSS corrections technology can now achieve horizontal accuracies of better than two centimeters. Read More
Sentera-Gimbaled-Quad-Sensor
Sensors/IoTSentera Gimbaled Quad Sensor Optimizes Crop Health Data…
August 7, 2018
Sentera’s Quad sensor is now available in an integrated gimbal-stabilized package for DJI Inspire and Matrice drones. Featuring four fully-customizable Read More
BigDataSmall2
Data ManagementPrecision Agriculture: A Smaller Approach to Big Data
August 7, 2018
Big data is one of the most buzzed-about concepts in our industry. Rarely do we read a newsletter, attend a Read More
Grower-Retailer
Industry NewsAgworld, K-coe Isom Form Strategic Partnership
August 6, 2018
Agworld and K-coe Isom have announced a strategic partnership that will see them integrating business advisory and technology to deliver Read More
Industry NewsAgEagle Acquires Agribotix
August 6, 2018
AgEagle Aerial Systems has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Agribotix, a Boulder, CO-based drone-enabled Read More
Digital-Farming
Systems ManagementImplementing Digital Farming’s Five Major Needs
August 2, 2018
Building a house starts with a plan and then a foundation; it does not start with doors and windows. From Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
August 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More