How to Manage Your Zones for High Yields

June 1, 2015 12:10 PM
How to Manage Your Zones for High Yields

Farmers have long known that all fields aren’t created equal and that every acre in each field is not the same. Today’s technol­ogy now allows producers to easily do something about it. Zone management links precision ag and agronomic practices into one seamless outcome with three key benefits: maximizing yields, improving stewardship and boosting bottom lines. 

“Zone management enables you to pick the areas where can you influence a problem by applying the right agronomic practice,” explains Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie, who has worked with dozens of farmers to use zone management. 

Regardless of where you are on the technology adoption curve, there are zone management techniques that can be used. With this in mind, Farm Journal and Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie launch Zone Management College on July 13 in Heyworth, Ill. This one-day event provides in-the-field breakouts and classroom sessions to teach farmers how to create and implement zone management. The sessions will dive deep on how to maximize and cater each zone to its specific soil type and past weather pattern for optimum yields. 

Take a look below for an inside look into the classroom and in-field breakouts for Zone Management College. The event offers 8.5 tentative CEU credits. Click here to register and for more details.We hope to see you there!

Tools in Your Zone Management Toolbox
This kickoff session will examine a variety of tools and 
technologies available to aid in zone identification and 
zone management implementation. Attendees will evaluate data from a variety of tools including yield monitors, aerial imagery, EC mapping, LIDAR data and other technology.
How to Map Out Your Zone Management Plan
All layers of data have to be compiled in a meaningful way in order to implement a zone management plan. A proper plan consists of two essentials: meeting the appropriate software and hardware requirements.  This session will explore VRT requirements and how to set up a system that is compatible with current equipment but adaptable for the future. 
Bring All Factors Together
Setting up the optimum zone management strategy includes managing nutrients, water and sunlight.  This session focuses on how to incorporate soil nitrates, nitrogen mineralization and timing of plant needs in a successful nitrogen plan.  It will also discuss the importance of multi-hybrid selection, row spacing and population when managing sunlight interception and water to achieve maximum yields in each management zone.
Challenges of Interpreting Nitrate Results  
Participants will experience examples of common pitfalls when pulling and interpreting soil nitrate and tissue tests.  This breakout will focus on in-field sampling methods and how to avoid getting erroneous data.  Participants will evaluate different soil nitrate levels and see what effect these levels have on the visual appearance of the plant.
Quality Data: The Cornerstone of Zone Management
Participants will look at multiple data layers of different fields to create a zone management plan. This breakout session will focus on the creation of management zones and interpretation of yield-limiting factors in those zones based upon imagery, soil tests, yield maps and other data layers. Participants will evaluate hands-on examples of quality data and learn how to evaluate their own data. 
Hybrid Characteristics Matter
A successful zone management plan includes matching hybrid characteristics with field limitations.  This hands-on breakout focuses on how to identify hybrid characteristics essential to picking the right hybrid, population, row spacing and nutrient plan for each field or management zone. 
Zone Management Simulation
After identifying the problems, it’s time for solving them. With an interactive format, participants will use population, soil type, nitrogen, weather and land rent prices to look at the overall profitability of creating zones. 
To learn more about the other summer College events, click here
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