If you’re considering variable-rate planting in 2011, tune into to episode 9 of Corn College TV. Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie says there are special considerations to make before making your planter pass more technical.
Ferrie says there are two keys to making variable-rate work in the field: planning and preparation.
“First, a map has to built,” he says. “You need to figure out who will build that map—someone from your farm, a fertilizer dealer, a consultant?”
And Ferrie recommends the map builder be involved in any purchasing decision of technology components. This will help ensure all products are compatible, which is a big issue because of the variety of technology products and services available on the market.
“It’s a good thing we have a lot of players in the market,” Ferrie says. “It gives farmers diversity and choice to pick from.”
The whole process has to be thought though to pave the path for variable-rate success. When all of the components are put together, it’s then time to put the system to the test.
“When it comes to making it happen in the field, have a place like a driveway, an old runway or a grass strip to test the planter,” Ferrie advises. “Run it a month or more before planting and make sure that planter changes in real time the way we want it to.”
The other part of preparation is knowing that the product customer support is adequate.
“Product support is crucial. Can they support your purchase in the field? Ask people who are using the product if they are satisfied, and call the hotline number yourself to be sure they company is ready to help you in the field,” Ferrie says.
To get even more tips and pointers for variable-rate planting, watch episode 9 of Corn College TV.