How To Think About Variable Rate

Kurt LawtonPrecision in Practice, Resources

With fertilizer costs and 2009 cropping plans being top-of-mind right now, variable-rate (VR) application is an option you should explore to improve efficiency.

But where does one begin their thought process to understand the value of VR? The story of Durango Farms in Lacombe, Alberta is a story worth reading because it walks you through their thinking. This presentation was part of 2008 FarmTech Foundation of Alberta’s annual conference on new technology, environmental issues, agronomy and farm management topics. 

From Durango Farms experience, their advice is to do your homework to see if VR has a fit in your fields. From their experience, here are their 10 tips for looking at VR technology: 

1) Plan ahead. Make buying decisions that will allow implementation of VR at a later date. 

2) Allow enough time to make sure the systems are all working properly. 

3) Draw on experience and knowledge from others. Have a support team that you can draw on. 

4) If you are variable rating more than one product try to avoid blending. Much easier system to handle field to field if you have 

dedicated tanks for individual products. 

5) Larger air seeder tanks allow more flexibility and reduces tank changes during the season 

6) Use systems that give you feedback. As applied maps and yield monitors help to confirm what you did and the results. 

7) Understand practical implications between soil testing and application. Fall banding and winter wheat are examples of working 

within a narrow window. 

8) Fine tune your system over time. You are treating your fields differently than in the past. Understand the response and make 

changes accordingly. 

9) Define your limiting factors and their economic costs and then build the appropriate response. 

10) Look for other opportunities zone management can provide. 

You can read more valuable papers from past proceedings, too.