While the idea of using global positioning satellite technology took off quickly because the financial returns were immediate, Matthew Sullivan says the returns from variable rate technology may not be as noticeable.
As an example, the Ohio State University agricultural engineer who spoke at last winter’s National No-Tillage Conference says the returns from an investment in VRT fertilizer or lime application may not show up in your no-till fields for 2 or 3 years. Yet he adds that this amount of time may be perfect to get beyond the perceptual barrier of varying rates.
As described on Page 14, the Rulon family of Arcadia, Ind., has enjoyed considerable success by using a global positioning system (GPS) equipment in conjunction with the VRT application of phosphorus, potassium and lime.
Sullivan says recent Ohio research indicates that many no-tillers can cash in from an investment in VRT equipment.
For corn, 69 percent of the Ohio farmers who tried VRT had a large enough financial return to more than pay for the investment in the technology. Only 25 percent of corn growers lost money from using VRT.
The financial returns were even higher with soybeans, as 89 percent of the farms earned additional profits with VRT.
For wheat, the results were somewhat less encouraging as only 42 percent of the growers reported additional profit, while 33 percent of the wheat growers reported losses from using VRT.
Numerous benefits provided by the new Farm Bill’s…
Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.
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