Working Up The Precision Learning Curve

Managing your farm fields as mini fields will lead to better nutrient management, proper seeding rates and more profitable yields.

This past spring, I took a big step and invested a significant amount of money in some new precision farming equipment. For years, we have been using a yield monitor to record our yields and evaluate corn hybrids and soybean varieties in our on-farm replicated plots.

Now that we have several years of yield data, we’re ready to climb up the learning curve and begin using this data along with data from grid soil testing to manage our farm in 2-acre mini fields within our larger fields.

Manage As Mini Fields

Precision farming allows us to manage our land in smaller units just like livestock producers have managed individual animals for years.

We now have technology that allows us to record yields and soil nutrient levels, and manage this data on a 1- to 2-acre grid basis.

Just as on my farm, you probably have considerable variability in soil quality and yield performance across many of your fields.

As a result, we will be more profitable if we manage our fields in smaller units so we match our fertility levels and seed populations to the yield capacity of each of these mini fields.

This will likely maximize yield, improve fertilizer and manure nutrient-use efficiencies and reduce the loss of nutrients to the environment. Not only should this lead to enhanced environmental performance, it should improve our overall profitability.

We’ve taken several steps to work into precision farming:

  1. We purchased a yield monitor and then added GPS so we could map…
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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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