View & Print Coupons
  • |
  • |
Please insert a friend's information that you would like send an email to.
Friend's Email Address:  
Friend's Name:
Your Email Address:
Your Name:
Special Message:

Using Data to Create Next Year’s Fertility Plan

How can precision ag can help producers better manage nutrients."

With today’s technology, growers have the opportunity to make better nutrient-management decisions than ever and increase the profitability of their operation. Still, fertility planning can be complicated and farming technology can generate mountains of data that must be analyzed and acted upon before it provides true value. Fortunately, Southern States offers the expertise to assist.

Variables Impacting Nutrient Management

While plenty of factors impact fertility planning, soils and the crops in the rotation are two main elements to consider.

Much of a soil’s nutrient-holding ability depends on the soil type and texture, says Brad Mathson, Senior Precision Ag Planner at Southern States Cooperative. In parts of Florida, for example, the sandy soils dictate that growers must almost start from scratch each year. Coastal sandy-textured soils in the Southeast also do not hold nutrients as well compared with more loamy soils.

In addition, the crop grown in the previous year also affects what nutrients are retained. For example, peanuts and alfalfa both remove a lot of calcium, and peanut tends to use a lot of manganese. On the other hand, corn can remove a great deal of zinc and phosphorus.

Precision Ag Fertility Plans

With all of the variables that come into play, fertility planning can be a complex process, but precision agriculture tools can be a valuable resource to help producers develop a site-specific plan to enhance nutrient management.

Mathson says that on some of the operations he has worked with, he has found that producers were increasing fertilizer input across the field to bump up yields, but were found to be greatly over fertilizing areas of the field.

Farmers these days can’t afford to put extra fertilizer in areas that just aren’t going to produce, he says. “With today’s prices, we have to be efficient to stay profitable.”

“Precision agriculture really increases efficiency,” Mathson continues. “Precision ag is more economically friendly and more environmentally friendly and all around, the goal is to make the farmer more profitable.”

How Southern States can help

To help farmers refine their fertility plans, Southern States takes soil tests on a grid or zone basis and analyzes the data, factoring in crop removal and yield goals.

Even if a farmer is new to precision ag, he can use hand-drawn maps to establish a baseline of where variability is in the field. This can be further refined with imagery. “Once we establish variability, we can use tools like soil sampling, tissue sampling and soil conductivity mapping to isolate the issue,” says Mathson. “There are many tools available to producers today.”

The key is using yield data to establish variability and identify low-yielding areas and then changing up the nutrient management plan accordingly or identifying where there might be other issues such as soil compaction or a nematode problem. Mathson compares the process to visiting a doctor, where a patient goes in knowing that’s he’s hurting, but doesn’t know exactly why. “We use tools to isolate whatever the issue is and then identify the problem. Then we can determine if we can fix the problem and the recommended treatment. There can be a whole host of issues that cause problems. Our challenge is to help solve them” says Mathson.

Your Current Store:

You will see pricing and specials based on this store.