Make Variable Rate Planting Pay

Peter Bixel, Seed2Soil powered by Sci Max representative

With increasing input costs and strong market prices, many farmers are asking about Variable Rate Planting as a way to make the most efficient use of their seed while increasing their overall yield.

“The complexity of this technology can be intimidating to farmers but variable rate planting can pay off and the research proves it,” said Dustin Blunier of Precision Planting based in Tremont, Ill., in a recent Iowa Farmer Today article.

According to 2009-2010 data from SciMax Solutions, farmers who followed recommendations for Variable Rate Planting saw an 8-bushel yield increase on marginal ground and a 4-bushel per acre increase on better ground of similar soil types.

Variable rate planting has proven successful on Latham® dealer Frank Wyatt’s farm in northeast Iowa.  He says they’ve been able to identify ways to save time and money, as well as maximize yields.

“In the spring of 2010, we had a lot of equipment running that was providing lots of information from chemical application records to yield data,” says Frank.  “We were challenged by how to organize all of that data and use it to make better decisions on the farm. That’s when we decided to implement variable rate planting through the Seed2Soil program.”

Variable rate planting is a viable option for any farmer with a properly equipped planter.  Below are a few steps that can be taken to help ensure your variable rate planting recommendations are as accurate as possible:

  1. Conduct Grid Sampling. Taking 2.5-acre grid samples will take your soil sample data and yield data to the next level. The benefits of grid sampling far outweigh the costs, and when managed properly, it can actually make money by increasing yield in certain areas.
  2. Organize Data. If you’re like most growers, you already have years of yield data, fertilizer application records and chemical application records. An important step in variable rate planting is to organize years’ worth of yield data, fertilizer application records and chemical application records.  This will help you identify “A through D zones,” which allows you to manage areas differently.   The A zones typically have better yields and offer a strong return on investment; the C or D zones are very inconsistent and aren’t really strong-producing areas.
  3. Form a Partnership. To put variable rate planting to work on your farm, make sure there’s solid communication between your seed advisor, technology advisor, and you!  Growers often know their land better than the data does, so it’s important to take a “team approach” to ensure the right steps are being taken to put the most effective plan into action.

For more information about Variable Rate Planting, contact the trusted experts at Latham Hi-Tech Seeds.