Hintzsche Fertilizer Inc., Maple Park, IL, is seeing increased adoption of its next-level Learning Blocks variable-rate planting program.
“Learning Blocks is really all about taking data and sorting it out and finding out ‘What’s it really telling me’,” explains Dave Hintzsche, CEO and president. “This is something that I feel like we’ve been on the cutting edge of for the last decade.”
Learning Blocks, a segment of Hintzsche’s full-service precision agriculture program dubbed “Hintzsche Yield Master” is a deeper, more focused look into yield map defined management zones. As opposed to traditional management zones, which can vary between a couple acres in a particular field to an entire field within an operation, Learning Blocks management zones are kept within either a half or full acre. Hintzsche uses soil maps and yield data maps to identify Learning Blocks within the field.
“Ultimately, in those management zones the idea is to hit the ideal population with the right hybrid in the correct particular zone,” says Ken Dziuk, manager of agronomic services. “We actually use multiple layers of different data inputs to come up with the management zones, and these Learning Blocks are just a very small segment of those management zones, to double check and verify that we are doing everything correctly.”
Dziuk explains the system as follows: “Say that we have an ‘A’ management zone, which we think has the best potential for yield. We’ll make a recommendation on fertility, hybrid selection and seed population. So in that particular zone we’ll recommend Hybrid ‘A’ at 37,000. Then we’ll take two Learning Blocks and we’ll take one of the populations up to 40,000 and have the other at 33,000. Well, after you harvest the yield off of those zones, you want to make sure that the 37,000 one is actually the best optimum population for yield.
“Now it may be that, in any given year, that 40,000 was the optimum population,” he continues “That’s what we’re finding a lot of, particularly in these ‘A’ management zones; we can push everything – fertility and population – and get a very, very good yield increase. It’s just checking to make sure everything is optimum and we’re not missing anything – and by missing anything I am talking about more yield per acre.”
Learning Blocks also prove handy during mid-season scouting or field walking, according to Dziuk. “During the summertime we’ll actually walk directly to individual Learning Blocks to see if there are any other differences that we can see besides the yield aspect. Then, if you see something wrong within one of the blocks, you can go back with the grower and make adjustments. You actually learn quite a bit from these Learning Blocks. It’s amazing that when you think you’ve got everything figured out, you discover that one little tweak that can push yields even further.”
Dziuk reasons that one of the aspects that sets Hintzsche’s Learning Blocks program apart from other variable rate planting recommendation programs is its access to Premier Crop System’s historical yield data.
“Premier Crop is actually, some would say, the grandfather of the entire precision ag movement,” says Dziuk. “They’re the ones that developed all of the original formulations, algorithms and everything, and they’ve been doing it for a long time and keep expanding on it every year, so there’s a lot of data that has gone into these management zones and Learning Blocks. I think it’s safe to say that we’re typically 10-15 years ahead of other programs like this that are out there.”
As Hintzsche’s Learning Blocks have caught on with its grower-customers, it seems other ag retailers and precision ag services are taking notice.
“We see a lot of other alternative precision ag products coming out that talk about these Learning Blocks, or learning strips as they are calling them, so I guess they’ve taken the idea and kind of run with it,” says Dziuk. “Once everybody realized how good this program is and what it actually has to offer, it didn’t take long for others to copy this almost identically to what we’re doing currently.”
To learn more about Learning Blocks, download Premier Crop’s “3 Minutes for 3 Thoughts” PDF.