Automatic Guidance Systems Putting Corn In The Right Spot

It's fair to say that optimum fertility helps produce optimum yields. Getting the right nutrients to the corn plant is imperative. Today’s highly accurate, site-specific farming technology is helping to do just that: Planting seed exactly where it can take the most advantage of all available nutrients.

For no-tillers, the general rule of thumb is to have at least 30 pounds of nitrogen available when the corn is planted, if not as starter fertilizer, then as a banded placement within 5 inches of the seed row. Row markers and line-of-sight driving can’t offer that kind of precision, but automatic guidance systems can, and Tony Vyn’s research is showing that this precision farming technology can help no-tillers and strip-tillers reap the rewards of precise seed placement.

Vyn, a professor of agronomy at Purdue University, has been using the RTK autosteering system, which provides up to 1-inch accuracy, in his research. RTK, or real-time kinematic GPS, takes previous versions of differential corrected GPS (DGPS) one step further. The RTK system works with a base station, either fixed or mobile, that provides a corrected satellite signal to tractor-mounted guidance systems. The system is more expensive than other autosteering systems, but it offers pinpoint accuracy.

Think 1-inch accuracy is important? Vyn’s research indicates that the highest levels of exchangeable potassium following corn are located within 6 inches to 7 inches of the old rows. So if you’re no-tilling corn on corn, using typical 30-inch rows and planting down the middle of last year’s rows…

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