Boosting Profits

In 2009, Crystal Valley Co-op, Janesville, MN, will harness precision sensor technology to open up a new 10-day application window that will boost sprayed acres up to 25% while adding a valuable new service for its customers.

Based on results from a 900-acre test program in 2008, the co-op has pre-booked an additional 5,000 corn acres for its first sprayer equipped with a GreenSeeker RT200 sensor-based variable-rate application and mapping system.

“We are adding the ‘profit’ acres by increasing sprayed acres from 18,000 to 23,000,” says Tim Danberry, sales agronomist for the co-op. Not only is the co-op spreading fixed costs over 25% more acres, it is able to charge $9.50 per acre for variable-rate sidedressing, a $3 premium compared to its normal sidedress charge. The extra income should be ample to defray the cost of the GreenSeeker RT200 system, which lists for $22,500, plus freight and installation.

If the 2009 GreenSeeker program turns out as expected, it could be expanded in the future, he adds. “If we show the benefits from GreenSeeker sensors we saw in 2008, I could see this program going to more sprayers at the co-op down the road,” he says.

The window for GreenSeeker-based sidedressing fits after the first Roundup Ready corn and soybean herbicide applications. “The machine was basically sitting at that point,” he says. “Now we have a 10- to 12-day window where the machine is putting on an extra 5,000 acres. We sell more product and keep the sprayer moving.”

Variable-Rate Value Proposition

Based on 2008 results, Danberry is telling customers they are likely to end up with an extra $20 per acre in their pockets from variable-rate sidedress nitrogen (N) savings, higher yield, or a combination of the two.

“Any time you can talk about dropping a $20 bill back in a grower’s pocket, you get his attention,” says Danberry. “That, plus the variable-rate sensor technology behind GreenSeeker, made selling a sidedress program relatively easy.”

Sidedressing had been far from popular in the co-op’s trade area until N costs skyrocketed. “Two to three years ago, farmers wanted simple and easy,” says Danberry. “Put my N down, plant the corn, and be done with it. With higher N prices, there is definitely a lot more interest in sidedressing.”

2008 GreenSeeker Results

Results on 900 acres in the pilot program helped the co-op and its customers gain confidence in GreenSeeker, which uses six boom-mounted sensors to assess crop vigor and adjust sidedress N rates on the go.

Danberry, working with crop consultant Bernie Paulson of McPherson Crop Management, Janesville, MN, chose fields likely to benefit from GreenSeeker-driven sidedress applications. These included fields with a history of manure applications and those with varying soil types, which can have organic matters ranging from 2% to 40% in this south central Minnesota region.

Most fields were chosen ahead of time, but others were added to the test after Danberry and Paulson, a GreenSeeker dealer, noticed N deficiency symptoms.

Across the board, the test fields, which included 80-foot non-variable-rate comparison strips, showed a positive economic response. “From a yield enhancement standpoint, we were pulling anywhere from 6.8 bushels to the biggest response of 21 bushels per acre (A),” says Danberry.

One field stood out. The 240-acre field, which had a history of cattle manure applications, had been fertilized with 120 pounds of fall N, plus cattle manure. Nevertheless, parts of the field showed N deficiency symptoms.

After getting the grower’s permission, Danberry sidedressed an average of 6.8 gallons/A of 28% N, with a range of 2 to 17 gallons/A. Four weigh-wagon yield checks across the field showed an average yield response of 14.2 bushels/A, raising the yield to 200 bushels/A.

“The application and nitrogen cost about $25 per acre, but it returned about $50 in extra yield,” says Danberry. “Normally, we would have applied 12 to 13 gallons of 28% to bring that field back. With GreenSeeker, we definitely distributed the N in the right place to maximize N efficiency and maximize yield.”

Long-Term Opportunities

Danberry and Paulson expect GreenSeeker technology to offer additional opportunities beyond sidedress N application.

For example, Danberry thinks GreenSeeker could be used to drive variable-rate fungicide applications in soybeans. In areas with poor crop vigor, fungicide could be eliminated, while in more vigorous parts of fields, the rate could be increased to the label maximum. “I see some interesting possibilities,” he says.

Paulson, who has several clients who use Crystal Valley application services, says the technology will help him improve scouting efficiency.

“We hope to use the system to create crop vigor maps any time the GreenSeeker rig goes over a field,” he says. “If we identify low-vigor areas during a planned sprayer application, we can pinpoint areas for follow-up ground scouting.”

In the end, providing GreenSeeker technology strengthens the co-op’s reputation, adds Danberry. “By offering this sensor technology, our customers see we are working to improve their bottom lines, not just sell them product. So it’s a win-win.”

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More