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The Importance of Crop Removal Review


How crop removal impacts fertility plans

A crucial part of fertilization planning for row crops involves reviewing and estimating nutrient removal from the previous crop in the field. As technology evolves, more growers are finding that precision agriculture methods can complement traditional methods and increase a field's profitability.

Crop Removal Review

Producers typically use tables, website calculators or mobile apps to determine the amount of nutrients contained in grain, leaves and stalks that are removed from the field after harvest. These calculations are based on standard removal rates for both the crop and the grain portions of the crop. Growers combine the resulting figures with soil test information to refine fertility plans.

Today's data collection technology allows growers to take it a step farther. Producers can use a variety of precision ag tools and analysis to develop more precise calculations and better site-specific recommendations compared with using the mathematical formulas alone, says Brad Mathson, Senior Precision Ag Planner at Southern States Cooperative.

"This is where a yield map really comes in handy in helping you decide where you need to spread the fertilizer," Mathson says. "Then you take the soil test information, which tells you your nutrient levels in different parts of the field, and combine that with removal rates, and you can create a highly precise plan of what you need to apply in each area of the field."

Return on Investment

The right analysis of field data can drive even more benefits for growers. Yield data, soil test data, soil type information, planter data and as-applied maps all provide information that can be analyzed and compared to refine the nutrient management plan.

"All those things will come into play when building out a precise fertility plan that adheres to the four Rs - the right product, at the right rate, at the right time, at the right amount," says Mathson. Better plans allow growers to put fertilizer where it has the potential to do the most good and avoid wasting inputs on areas where they won't do much good. "We can take all of this information and work it into the equation to do a better job of managing inputs to yield," says Mathson.

Expert Advice

The overall goal of precision agriculture is to turn every expense - whether it's fertilizer, seed or other inputs - into an investment so the farmer gets a return. "If you don't need phosphorus in a certain part of the field, and you put phosphorus down, it becomes an expense. But if you do need phosphorus in an area, and you get 5, 10 or 20 more bushels, now that dollar you spend on phosphorus is an investment."

Southern States provides the precision ag services to help farmers get the job done but also the expertise to help farmers analyze and sort through all of the field data. The cooperative's Precision Ag Coordinators throughout the region are trained to analyze the data and work closely with the Southern States Agronomy staff to develop a plan that's right for each operation. To find out how you can optimize your fertility plans, contact your local Southern States representative.

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