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  • Jan11Thu

    Multi-hybrid variable rate project underway

    January 11, 2018
    Filed Under:
    Precision Agriculture
    PRIDE Seeds agronomist Aaron Stevanus's multi-hybrid planter.
    PRIDE Seeds agronomist Aaron Stevanus's multi-hybrid planter.

    Among the many exciting developments in agriculture in recent years, multi-hybrid variable rate planting stands as a potential game changer in terms of yield.

    Aaron Stevanus, an agronomist with PRIDE Seeds is in the early stages of a research project that will leverage real-time data against existing best practice projections.

    Stevanus, who also farms in Bloomingdale, ON, has invested in a multi-hybrid planter which he is using to expand the existing knowledge base in an effort to further refine crop prescriptions in his region.

    Using a site in Elmira, ON, Stevanus is taking a three-pronged systems approach that combines good data with practical knowledge and analytics.

    Accurate data is crucial and starts with knowing the soil type of a particular field or area.

    Ongoing on-the-ground soil sampling and yield data collection paired with satellite shots and/or drone imagery tell a far greater tale than either component on its own.

    Understanding the particular strengths, weaknesses and potential challenges of a particular area allows for more accurate prescriptions both in terms of which hybrids to use, and what populations to plant for optimum return on investment (ROI).

    While Stevanus is quick to point out that there is no ‘easy button’ to push to gain this knowledge, he notes that rapidly evolving technology is making the investment in time and money far more efficient and effective for growers, and the companies they rely on to provide high quality and high performing seed.

    “At PRIDE, research and development is at the forefront of everything we do corporately,” said Stevanus, “but I want to see for myself how our products are performing in real life conditions and what the optimum populations are for various hybrids in diverse conditions.”

    Hence the personal investment of time and money into what he sees as a multi-year project.

    His new planter means multiple hybrids, and populations can be planted in similar soil conditions, providing invaluable side-by-side comparisons.

    Stevanus says it’s very important to understand the correlation between satellite and/or aerial images and conditions on the ground.

    Detailed data will go a long way in making informed decisions but he says that no amount of algorithms or equations can replace boots-on-the-ground observations and experience.

    Of course data on its own isn’t particularly valuable, which is where the analysis component of the project comes in.

    Growers must have a way to properly analyze their data and Stevanus says there are many systems out there to do that.

    He cautions that data can be deceiving and warns against making snap decisions based on data alone without delving into the potential costs of those decisions.

    Whether it’s adjusting products, populations, nutrients or processes, Stevanus says the focus must always be on achieving a positive ROI.