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Farm by the Foot

November 13, 2010
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Farm Journal Machinery Editor and Test Plot Director

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Think small for big returns. That’s the idea behind adopting zone management. Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie explains more in Episode 3 of Corn College TV.

“We define management zones by starting with a wide focus and then zooming in,” Ferrie says.

He explains management zones, how to find them and what they mean.

“First look at soil type and separate the different soils. Start with soil survey and go out with GPS and confirm its accuracy,” he says. “With different soil types fertility has to be management differently, there are different water holding capacities, and different nitrogen loss potential.”

Then fine tune the soil type map with your own tools including, yield maps, soil conductivity readings and NDVI maps.

“This is where a good, calibrated yield map can really shine as an excellent tool,” Ferrie says. “Taking the time to calibrate a yield map takes time, but it will pay off. When you get a wet or dry year, don’t get frustrated because those are the years that are the more valuable. They expose the weaknesses in your zones.”

Another tool Ferrie is using to refine his management zones are NDVI maps.

“In the last 5 to 6 years, we’ve used NDVI photos. They take out the factor of trying to calibrate a combine. With multiple combines in one field, seaming two maps together can be problematic, An NDVI map will give the view of the entire field.”

By using the tools in the farmer’s toolbox, you can dial in your production practices to farm by the foot.  

Learn more in Episode 3 of Corn College TV. 

Episode3 Farmerstoolbox

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