Calibrate For Variable-Rate Precision Farming Success

Kurt LawtonAg Leader, Corn, Displays, Education, Equipment, Insights Weekly, Planting, seed, Soybeans

Insights WeeklyWhile every farmer knows the value of preparing and calibrating the planter and sprayer, the same holds true when calibrating the electronics and software that control these implements—especially if you vary rates across the field on the go.

Hopefully you pulled out that owner’s manual, or enlisted your local dealer’s help, several weeks ahead of pulling into the first field with a planter full of seed. “The equipment only works as well as the set-up, so running the calibration software on your monitors should be an annual event,” says Nick Ohrtman, Technical Support Supervisor for Ag Leader Technology.

Since there’s no real standard procedure when calibrating for variable-rate technology, it is critical that you follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual of both the piece of equipment and the monitor that is driving it. “Our display monitors, like the Insight or INTEGRA, have a calibration wizard that walks you through seed meter calibration, allowing you to count the actual seed that drops per revolution, which is critical for variable-rate seeding” he says.

“If your variable-rate monitor is set to plant 34,000 seeds and the population monitor says you’re only seeding 30,000, then that’s a sign that the calibration was done inaccurately. If this happens with our system, when both monitors are running through our display, an alarm sounds when the populations don’t match up,” Ohrtman adds.

Granted, most calibration settings made are saved by crop, but it is still wise to recalibrate every year for each crop. “Once you’ve calibrated for corn and soybeans, then every field will use the same calibration. And the calibration doesn’t change when you’re switching plant populations,” he adds.

For growers using planter section or row shut-off technology, it’s advised to make sure your settings are correct each year. “With our AutoSwath system, there are three different settings available, so it’s wise to check the owner’s manual every year, as well as do a dig check in the soil on the first round to make sure the row shut-offs are working correctly.” Nick talks about tips for using AutoSwath in his blog post here.
For more information:
Calibrating Equipment for Variable-Rate Application

Variable Rate Equipment – Technology for Weed Control

Gear Up For VRT (Farm Journal, March 2009)