With seed costs going up all the time and pressure to increase yields mounting every year, are you looking for something that could be a game-changer on your farm this spring?

I ran into an interesting article recently (see below) from the Iowa Soybean Association discussing variable-rate planting, and whether it’s something that ought to be utilized by farmers.

I’ve heard good arguments for and against variable-rate planting. While having higher populations than necessary in some fields may just be soaking your pocketbook and actually hurting your yields in dry conditions, the technology available today does allow farmers to adjust populations easily on the go. But some farmers insist the result of this technology doesn’t justify the cost.

The ISA makes an excellent point about the need for farmers to understand how their prescription maps are compiled for their operation. In the group’s own studies with corn plots with highly variable soils, areas with higher corn suitability (CSR) scores produced higher yields. But the results for higher and lower seeding rates across CSR categories showed no more than a 1.5-bushel increase.

There could be many reasons for this result, but the ISA says this shows that CSR information alone probably isn’t a good basis for building a prescription for variable-rate planting.

“If you want to try variable-rate planting, you should also devise a way to test it against your current planting methods, in order to know whether it actually produces a yield difference that is enough to pay for any additional time and input expense,” the group says.

 Are you already using variable-rate seeding or planting in your no-till operation? Have you been successful? Why or why not? Send me an e-mail and tell us your story.