Unplanned Strip Trials

Melissa SandfortAg Leader, Insights Weekly

Insights Weekly

Aaron Friedlein, Ag Leader Certified Crop Advisor and product manager, farms part-time in northeast Iowa and also helps on his parents’ farm. He notes that, “Each growing season presents itself with new challenges and an opportunity to learn something new — some of these challenges are planned, some are surprises.”

In this week’s special installment of “Insights Weekly,” Aaron shares with us some firsthand notes from his experience in the fields in mid-June:

“A few weeks ago I was side-dressing Nitrogen (N) and I noticed a section of the field where the corn was shorter and a bit pale in color. My father mentioned that while planting, he got a flat tire on the contact tire that drives the fertilizer pump (we put on about 30 lbs. of N at planting and side-dress the balance needed for the year), and had made a few rounds before he noticed, so a few acres were short on N. So I increased the rate for the section of the field to ensure we had enough N for the season.

On our farm, we call these situations unplanned strip trials. By recording where I applied more N at side-dressing, we can determine if the crop was held back by not having N applied during the early growing season. While these are not very structured tests in terms of replications, we can use this information to tell us if the way we apply N now with split application is worth our extra time and effort while planting.

To put some additional numbers to it, we can also use SMS Mobile and the OptRx sensor from Ag Leader to track the changes in crop health as the season progresses.

Some of the questions we need to ask are:
• Since I applied more N later in the season in this area, will it stay greener, longer as the crop matures?
• Since the rest of the field has always had N during the growing season, will the ears be more consistent and/or larger in diameter?
• Will there be any yield difference with these two areas? If there is no difference in yield, was it due to the weather this year?

Whatever the results, we will continue to do additional trials to keep learning.”

Watch the following video to learn more from Ag Leader about SMS Mobile and OptRx Crop Scouting.

Become a fan of Ag Leader on Facebook today, and get the latest precision ag videos on the YouTube channel. For more information about Ag Leader products and services, or to visit the blog site, go to www.agleader.com.