Demonstrating the yield benefits and economics of using real-time data to make fertility management decisions is the goal of this year’s project at Field of Excellence, part of Glacier FarmMedia’s Discovery Farm (Langham).
“Our project is designed to demonstrate to producers how they can use data to make objective and calculated fertility decisions,” said Blake Weiseth, Applied Research Lead at Discovery Farm. “We want to demonstrate the yield advantages of being able to be precise with fertility applications but it’s also important to consider costs and ultimately net profit.”
Before the 180-acre Field of Excellence was seeded this spring, the site was mapped by project partner CropPro Consulting and delineated into soil management zones to which a unique fertility prescription was applied based on estimated yield potential, explained Weiseth. An initial fertility application was done when both wheat and canola were seeded.
Following seeding, a suite of data collection sensors from METOS Canada, including six soil moisture probes in each crop and a dedicated weather station, were installed in the field. Throughout the growing season, the environmental data collected by the sensors will be used to develop a variable-rate top-dress nitrogen prescription for each zone based on the prevailing moisture conditions. “The advantage of this sensor technology is its ability to provide the farmer with real-time information across a range of field conditions, taking a lot of the guess work out of the in-season fertility equation.”
Weiseth said a key component of the project is the involvement of industry partners along the entire supply chain. This year’s partners include Nutrien Ag Solutions, Proven Seed and Loveland Products along with equipment suppliers Equipment Technologies, Vaderstad and Canada West Harvest Centre.
In the fall, the average crop yield in each soil zone will be determined and that information overlaid with the economics, said Weiseth. “By looking at yield and net profit, the results of this project will give producers what they need to decide how effective this variable-rate fertility approach would be in their own operations.”
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ABOUT DISCOVERY FARM: Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm is an innovative agricultural event and demonstration site, home to Ag in Motion and the Field of Excellence. Located on 640 acres at Langham, Sask., Discovery Farm is designed to connect western Canadian farmers with industry and research partners to find practical solutions to the agriculture challenges of today, and tomorrow.