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Better seed data could drive higher yields

April 8, 2013

After my conversations with farmers I’m convinced that Knowledge Sharing is the right problem to discuss. At the present time farmers use technology that gives obvious effects supported by calculated ROI. Autoguidance, performance monitoring and weather data are among these things. On other hand Variable Rate Technology (VRT), in spite of intuitive benefits, stumbles upon an absence of data to calculate its ROI.

Here’s an example.

If you would take a look at any website of major seed producers, you would find a target corn yield in a range of 127-174 bu/acre. This is an average yield. There are no concrete recommendations on soil preparation or fertilizer rates or their combination in relation to yield.

At the same time, the accepted standard for a bushel of corn is now measured in weight: 56 pounds.

The number of kernels per ear can vary from 500 to about 1,200, but a typical ear would have 800 kernels, according to corn experts.

Planting rate recommendations average 35,000 per acrehttp://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1885.pdf

If we assume an average 1,800 seeds per pound and 35,000 plants per acre with a typical ear with 800 kernels, our yield per acre should be 277.77 bu/acre.

In 2012, Jeff Laskowski of Plover, Wisconsin, set a new all-time state record corn yield, producing 327 bushels per acre using the corn hybrid Pioneer P0533AM1.

But again, this corn hybrid (http://www.kelseyllc.com/images/E0256401/P0533AM1.pdf) has no data for potential yield.

It is very difficult to create technology and integrate all components if you do not have relevant data. We have a lot of different hardware and platforms capable of integration, but no data.

This time I’m asking such companies as Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta to share the data and crop growing technologies to achieve the maximum yield.

From my old experience back in Belarus working with potatoes, a new variety always was coming with detailed technology of crop growing, including all details of soil preparation, fertilizer type, rates and placement . The same was true for new varieties from the Netherlands. Sometimes it even included their equipment for the chosen variety of potato.

So, in order to use VRT farmers need to have more definitive data supporting this technology.

We need to know the following properties for seeds:

  • Potential yield (not only average)
  • Potential/desired output content (protein, starch, fiber, oil, etc.)
  • Rate of planting (spacing in the field, XYZ) as a function of yield
  • Rate of fertilizing for each growth stage (spacing in the field, XYZ) as a function of yield, desired crop properties, soil properties and structure
  • Rate of irrigation for each growth stage (spacing in the field) as a function of irrigation type, yield, desired crop properties, soil
  • Rate of chemical control for each growth stage (spacing in the field) as a function of chemical type (systemic/contact), diseases (type, spread, stage), weeds (type, spread, stage), and insects (type, spread, stage)
  • Potential yield losses as a function of planting speed, harvesting speed, and deviations from the optimum planting rate.

Based on the above data it is possible to develop a technology of crop growing (sequence of operations and supporting equipment) to support the optimal growing conditions and achieve desired yield and crop properties for the chosen criteria (ROI).

Is it possible to provide this data? Equipment industry and farmers are ready. Now we are waiting for answers from seed-producing companies and crop consultants.

I think if farmers would share their data anonymously with their crop consultants and seed dealers, it would be possible to create the described above Site-Specific Crop Management data to increase yield and reduce cost.

It would benefit all parties involved:

For farmers, an increase in yield and reduction in the cost of production.

For equipment manufacturers, a boost in VRT equipment sales.

For seed producers, a new paradigm of competition in crop growing technology and not only seeds.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with me:andrey.v.skotnikov@gmail.com.

Posted by Andrey Skotnikov at 10:52pm

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