Precision Ag Brings Clear Fertilizing Payback

Advanced technologies for improving fertilizer applications provide the most convincing argument for adopting precision ag techniques.

John Barker is convinced that precision ag technologies can produce a real payoff for growers in his region — today more than ever.

Nonetheless, the Ohio State University extension agent for Knox County says farmers questioning the “real” payback they can expect from investing in new technologies confront him regularly.

“Farmers need to justify their investment in this technology,” he says. “Their main question isn’t, ‘Does it work?’ Rather, it’s ‘Does it pay?’

“They want the economics of the investment; how can they show an economic benefit.

“At times in the past, it’s been a little difficult to justify. How do you put a price on the data you collect? For some people, it’s tough to justify what data is worth.

“Today, with high input prices, it’s getting pretty easy to justify.”

Having worked with various precision technologies since 1994, Barker was well aware of the many benefits these advanced methods can bring to farmers.

“We’ve been involved in different aspects of it since yield monitors were introduced to collect yield data,” he says. “Today’s technology allows farmers to vary the application rates of crop inputs throughout a field and are creating sweeping changes on many farms.

“It allows inputs, such as herbicide, insecticide, fertilizer, manure, etc., to be altered at any particular point within a field. Available software allows various field data, including soil test results, crop-scouting data and yield data, to be analyzed and incorporated into the decision-making process.”

Theoretically, Barker says combining this field-based data with technology…

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