The Power Of Precision

The SoilWarrior N can deliver anhydrous ammonia and liquid or dry fertilizer.
The SoilWarrior N can deliver anhydrous ammonia and liquid or dry fertilizer.

The ag retail industry is in a state of transition as farm operations continue to consolidate. Ron Farrell, a consultant with Farrell Growth Group, LLC, says that as consolidation continues, it is likely that about 20% of U.S. crop acres will be farmed by growers who will prefer to buy direct and apply their own fertilizer and crop protection products; another 20% of the acres will be smaller farms where the operator is also employed off-farm and will require additional support services from their farm supplier; and the remaining 60% will be farmed by growers looking for more sophisticated risk management and precision agriculture services from their ag retailers.

Recent surveys have found that more than 80% of ag retailers see their grower-customers doing more precision agriculture in the next five years. “As commodity prices drop to more sustainable levels, growers will focus on maximizing their return per dollar invested. Precision ag provides the best opportunity to do that,” says Farrell.

Retailers who help growers determine the most viable practices through precision ag data analysis, on-farm research and custom precision services will gain business, according to Farrell. “The ag retail industry is segmenting as quickly as farmers are consolidating. Those retailers that build up their team to be knowledgeable on all components of precision ag and on maximizing return on investment will thrive. Those that don’t will struggle to maintain business in this sector,” he says.

Besides investing in data analysis, retailers are helping growers evaluate new agronomic practices that build on precision capabilities. Custom strip tillage and fertilizer placement is a new precision offering by some ag retailers. These retailers have invested in strip tillage equipment because it fits well with their variable-rate fertilizer programs, it provides agronomic advantages and it shows their leadership in helping growers experience and evaluate new technologies.

For example, two years ago United Farmers Cooperative (UFC) in York, NE, leased a SoilWarrior strip tillage machine with a real-time kinematic (RTK) steerable fertilizer cart for research and custom application purposes. The yield advantage for strip tillage compared to no-till and conventional tillage ranged from 10 to 15 bushels per acre in the on-farm trials it conducted for customers in 2012.

Building On Precision Capabilities

“As we help our growers increase yields, we are focused on getting nutrients placed in the right location. We aren’t just applying nutrients, but placing them where they will have the greatest impact to yield and greatest economic benefit,” says Mike Zwingman, lead analyst of agronomy research for UFC. “The advancements that the SoilWarrior brings in nutrient placement can help growers advance their yields, lower their nutrient use and manage their environment better than ever before.”

Timeliness is another reason to offer custom strip tillage fertilizer application, according to Matt Richmond, Midwest regional field technology specialist with the Wilbur-Ellis Co., Onida, SD. “Farmers are covering more acres and with the planting window so short, they don’t want to be slowed down by applying fertilizer with the planter,” he says. “It also allows us to hit higher rates of fertilizer for increased corn yield goals.”

Kevin Born, CEO of Environmental Tillage Systems (ETS) says: “We are seeing more interest by ag retailers to add strip tillage with precision fertilizer application to their custom services. It dovetails with retailers’ precision ag services and it provides another revenue source. Most importantly, they are introducing growers to an innovative technology that improves yields and nutrient efficiency.”

Interest by ag retailers and large growers alike has caused ETS to build its largest SoilWarrior machine yet. The new 60-foot, 24-row SoilWarrior N simultaneously delivers anhydrous and liquid or dry fertilizer at a speed of up to eight miles per hour. Equipped with three variable-rate dry fertilizer tanks, the SoilWarrior N easily adapts to fertilizer formulation changes based on soil conditions, the calendar and comparative prices of various nutrients.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More
Precision AgUAS: The S Stands For Smart, Service And Sensors
May 1, 2014
The only thing occuring more rapidly than the technologies’ evolution is the clamoring to implement UAS into agriculture as soon as possible. Read More
Precision AgAg Retail: 3 Tech Trends To Watch In 2014
April 1, 2014
It's been a busy first quarter of technology developments in 2014. Here are some of the highlights, and things to watch in the months ahead. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Targets 2,4-D In Latest Report
June 29, 2015
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has struck again. Earlier this year in March, this agency of the Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Ma…
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
EquipmentCase IH Launches New Precision Air 5 Series Carts
June 29, 2015
Case IH recently introduced its new Precision Air 5 series air carts, developed to get the most from every plant’s Read More
InsecticidesVestaron Biopesticide Approved In California
June 29, 2015
Vestaron Corporation, a developer of insect control products derived from naturally occurring peptides, today announced that its VST-006330-EP biopesticide has received Read More
InsecticidesValent’s Zeal SC Miticide Receives EPA Approval
June 29, 2015
Valent U.S.A. Corporation announced today that Zeal SC Miticide has been registered by EPA with a new liquid formulation that Read More