Pivot Predictor

October 15, 2013 08:00 PM

You’ve probably never met a person who could read your mind. But a new piece of technology does the next best thing for farmers growing corn under irrigation. In April the app, known as Optimizer 2.0, began integrating irrigation predictions for any brand of pivot to forecast corn yield, along with information about field management zones, planting dates, crop varieties, hourly soil moisture, corn drydown and long-term weather cycles.

The app’s solver function identifies the most limiting attribute among those data points, adjusts it and then recommends variable rates for download as shapefiles. "The software is really designed to facilitate the relationship between the farmer and the adviser," says Daryl Starr, president of Advanced Ag Solutions.  The software is sold to crop advisers who can resell it or bundle it.

Displayed on a mobile-optimized website, the app uses those data points to project, on a daily basis, whether a farmer should choose to irrigate. Developers added the irrigation functionality after some Nebraska farmers pointed out that they had to add 70 bu. to the yield forecast to make it accurate.

Incorporating irrigation into the software is fairly simple. For example, a farmer might put down 1" of water on a field over a seven-day period under normal growing conditions. He enters those parameters into the program. From then on, the system cross-references the water guidelines against the other data points. If rain is likely, yield projections are adjusted on the assumption irrigation will be reduced or paused.

The added irrigation component has improved water-use efficiency for Brandon Hunnicutt, who grows corn, soybeans, popcorn and seed corn on 2,600 acres just outside of Giltner, Neb. Hunnicutt uses center pivots on 98% of his irrigated corn land.

"It did a good job of predicting yield relative to what we would have expected if we were a rain environment," Hunnicutt notes. He pays a monthly fee, based on acres, to access the app. About once a day, a text message alerts the operator to projected yield. To learn more, visit www.advancedagsolutions.com.

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