It’s great to see more federal research, especially in the often neglected crop of wheat, to help growers understand why yields can vary greatly across 80 acres.
As precision farming tools continue to tell us, such in-field yield variation has to do with the soil–its physical, chemical and biological characteristics. Thanks to cooperation between USDA-NRCS and M&M Cooperative in Sterling, Colo., dryland wheat growers will gain further understanding into the best ways to apply precision agriculture.
The Sterling Journal Advocate reports how technologies can improve over-application. The high cost of fertilizer and environmental concerns, stemming from fertilizer over-application, are prompting many farmers to look for ways to maximize return on their fertilizer dollars. Today, new technologies are available that allow us to identify and respond to spatial variations in soil: Global Positioning Systems, Geographic Information Systems and variable rate applicators. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the best ways to apply these technologies is lacking.
M & M Cooperative has been instrumental in planning, funding, and implementing research to investigate soil electrical conductivity (EC) as a basis foridentifying management zones — areas within a field that are similar in soil characteristics and production potential. Field maps of EC can be made easily and economically by integrating GPS and GIS technologies with commercially-available EC sensors, such as the Veris Sensor Cart (Veris Technologies, Salina, Kan.).
Farmers in the central great plains will benefit from learning optimal N-rates for different EC management zones with regard to yields, conservation and grain quality.