The phrase “work smarter, not harder” is popular for a reason – there’s truth behind it. For an industry that requires non-stop hard work, any break given with a more efficient strategy can make all the difference. Smart farming decisions helps growers reduce costs; increase yield and maximize profits while being extremely efficient. We have offered suggestions on agriculture apps before and thought we would start the year by suggesting a few more apps for you to consider.
Here are four apps, recently recommended by CropLife Magazine, that growers should consider implementing into their management process to help make smarter and more efficient decisions.
The web-based ROI calculator, released by PotashCorp’s eKonomics incorporates spatial variability, which provides growers with a more accurate reflection of expected nutrient response in production-sized agriculture.
The Pocket Rain Gauge, developed by Agrible, is an app that provides growers with a accurate, location-specific rainfall measurements delivered instantly. Growers can log into their free Morning Farm Report account to get rainfall totals for all their fields tied to the account. The app also includes feedback functionality so growers can let Agrible know how accurate its measurements are. App is available using an iPhone, iPad and Android.
Sirrus Premium Upgrade, developed by SST, helps agronomists and growers collaborate on farming decisions by making field data accessible and easy to collect. The app is available using an iPhone and iPad.
Descartes Labs provides weekly yield forecasts for states and counties in the U.S. through its Descartes Crop app. The app allows growers to see their county’s end of year yield, now. They can add additional states and counties to see their forecasted yield as well. The app is available using an iPhone and iPad.
Mobile apps have become a game changer for growers and ag retailers who are constantly on the go. These and many other apps available today will allow them to perform critical tasks and make crucial decisions wherever and whenever.
As growers look for ways to survive and grow in the current agricultural economy, their efforts go hand-in-hand with trying to produce better yields and increase their profitability. Smart input decisions are a way growers can improve their operation’s efficiency to ensure a high-quality crop that results in increased yield and profitability for their overall operation.
Below are some of the inputs every grower should consider as they make smart and strategic purchase decisions for the benefit of their operation.
It all starts with selecting the appropriate seed for your geography and for your farm management practices. There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the appropriate seed, including its maturity rating, yield potential, plus pressures from disease, weeds and insects.
It’s crucial plants receive the necessary nutrients from the moment the seed is planted, so they can have a quicker and stronger emergence and maximize their genetic potential. This is why using an effective starter fertilizer as part of an overall crop nutrient program is so beneficial.
For a starter fertilizer to be the most impactful, it needs to help make the nutrients in the soil and in the fertilizer, available for uptake to the plant. An ortho ortho EDDHA chelating agent used with the starter or as a key ingredient in the starter fertilizer is a proven way plants start off stronger and result in a better yielding crop at the end of the season. Levesol™ from West Central is the purest ortho ortho EDDHA chelating agent on the market today.
Applying a fungicide can help growers increase yields by preventing disease and providing additional plant health benefits like improved seedling emergence, enhanced growth efficiency and better tolerance to hot temperatures. But it’s not good enough for growers to get any kind of fungicide, choosing an appropriate fungicide is essential. Before deciding what fungicide to purchase, growers should ask themselves some key questions, starting with “what spectrum of disease control are they looking for?”
Insecticide is another critical component of a successful crop protection strategy. Growers need to protect their plants from insect pressure, so they can take advantage of all the nutrients, soil conditions and environmental conditions to produce as much yield as possible.
Once a plant starts growing, they still need additional protection throughout their lifecyle. Weed resistant management is a huge concern to many growers and ag professionals. New trait and herbicide technologies are being approved, and there is a growing need for the appropriate adjuvants to work alongside the new technologies to combat resistant weeds and help these herbicides be as effective as possible. It’s important for growers to pick an adjuvant that is compatible with the new herbicide technologies and one that will still work with conventional herbicides. The new Elite adjuvants contain water conditioners without any ammonium sulfate so they will not increase the volatility of the herbicide and will not affect the pH of the herbicide solution.
To further discuss how growers can overcome today’s low economy, we caught up with Steve Roehl from West Central Distribution during our LIFT Summit in June 2016 to get his thoughts. Check out a clip from our conversation below.
In today’s [agricultural] economy we always have to be careful about [and encourage] buyer beware. There are a lot of different products out there and I alluded to this in my presentation. There’s a lot of information and different people trying to solve high yields and profitable crop production. That’s why we have important meetings like the one we had today. There are a lot of intelligent people here, and Dr. Below does really do a great job of pulling all of this stuff together. So, try to think about how you’re going to compete which is the real ticket here. You have to compete within the next 10 to 20 years, and you have to make money to survive, and we’re all doing this to try to feed the world and make a living. We need to carefully examine all of these inputs and try to figure out which ones as Dr. Below alludes to are going to have the greatest impact on your particular farm.
It’s that time of year again, cooler mornings, frosted windows, which means it’s time to winterize your stored diesel fuel. If No. 2 diesel cools during colder, overnight temperatures, it may reach “cloud point,” when wax crystals develop in the fuel. The fuel will look cloudy and crystals can plug the fuel filter, resulting in poor starts, engine hesitation, stalling and even engine damage. Use the below guidelines to winterize fuel left over from harvest.
Know When to Blend
The cloud point for No.2 diesel is approximately 14 degrees F. A good rule of thumb is to switch to a winter blend 15 degrees above cloud point. When overnight temperatures begin to dip down near 30 degrees F, it’s time to blend in No.1 diesel with additives for winter. For every 10 percent of No. 1 diesel added, the fuel cloud point will drop by 3 degrees F.
Don’t let cloud point surprise you – crystals can quickly accumulate in the fuel during a cold snap but may still run fine. Even if the fuel is blended after reaching cloud point, those crystals will remain and can clog your equipment. An engine that runs well on a chilly Friday could leave you stranded on a warm Monday. For this reason, an early-season move to winter-grade fuel is always recommended.
Factor in the Heel
When blending fuel, don’t just pour No. 1 diesel on top of stored fuel. First gauge the heel – or the total volume of No. 2 left in the tank before you begin blending winterized fuel – and reach the proper blend before bringing in the first delivery of winterized product. If No. 1 diesel is added to the storage tank without proper blending, farmers will actually dilute the winterized product and negatively impact the fuel quality.
When done correctly, fuel blending will improve diesel engine performance. But since it’s a scientific process that can vary based on expected regional temperatures and your specific operation, you may have a few questions along the way. Your local Cenex® dealer can help answer your questions and help you achieve the right winter blend for your equipment. Our cold weather diesel fuel, Cenex® Wintermaster®, offers operability to minus 30 degrees F with a cold filter plugging point of minus 55 degrees F.
An early switch to a winter blend diesel fuel will help keep your operation and equipment running smoothly this winter.
ST. PAUL, MINN. (January 12, 2017) – CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $209.2 million for the first quarter of its 2017 fiscal year.
Earnings for the period (Sept. 1 – Nov. 30, 2016) declined 22 percent from the same period of fiscal 2016. The decrease was primarily attributed to lower pretax earnings in the company’s Energy and Foods segments along with Corporate and Other. These declines were partially offset by increased pretax earnings in the CHS Ag segment as well as earnings from the new Nitrogen Production segment.
“We’ve been in business for nearly nine decades, so we’ve experienced these types of cycles before,” said CHS President and Chief Executive Officer Carl Casale. “Although it’s not possible to predict how long the current down cycle in the ag and energy industries will continue, we’ll navigate through this period by continuing to run our businesses efficiently and effectively, by maintaining a strong balance sheet and by ensuring we serve our owners’ and customers’ needs in all we do.”
Equipment can be one of the largest investments farmers make on their operation. And with today’s lower grain prices and tighter budgets, many are considering used machinery as an alternative to buying new. However, the hours logged on a piece of machinery are not always a reliable indicator of the health of the engine. Be sure to pay extra attention to three considerations to help make a final decision and protect your equipment investment.
Get an oil analysis.
Potential buyers can look for leaks and damage when inspecting used machinery, but even if a piece of equipment looks good on the outside, it’s harder to tell the condition under the hood. That’s where an oil analysis can be a valuable tool for the buyer. It is like a blood test for a machine’s engine, transmission and hydraulic systems. The cost of an oil analysis kit ($15 to $25) is minimal considering the valuable insights it can provide on a machine that likely costs tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy.
Consider the age of the engine and the fuel it’ll need.
Most equipment found at an auction will have logged hundreds or thousands of hours. Tier 3 and Tier 4 engines require a higher-quality fuel to run at peak performance. Traditional #2 diesel fuel can leave deposits on vital engine parts, which may clog fuel filters and cause injector failure. A premium diesel fuel like Cenex® Ruby Fieldmaster® is specially formulated to protect modern engines from deposits and buildup. Investing in a premium diesel fuel is essential to protect new and used equipment and ensure your machine runs efficiently throughout the year.
Enroll the equipment in a warranty program.
There are very few quick fixes on today’s modern farm equipment. When a system fails or a critical engine or hydraulic part is damaged, repairs can cost thousands of dollars and can take days to complete. The Cenex Total Protection Plan® Warranty Program covers both used and new equipment that use Cenex premium diesel and lubricants products and conduct regular oil analysis. Used equipment can be registered for up to eight years or 8,000 hours for a one-time fee of $399 and no deductible. The warranty is also transferable for future sales.
For help with specific equipment performance issues or to purchase an oil analysis kit, contact us or a Cenex certified energy specialist. To learn more about the Cenex Total Protection Plan and Cenex products, visit www.cenex.com.
Most research today supports soil sampling and testing as a best management practice. Growers should take the opportunity learn as much as possible about their soil in order to produce their best yields. This includes knowing what nutrient deficiencies exist in their soil.
The following explains the process of soil sampling, and highlights key data growers will learn from testing and analyzing their soil.
The Soil Sampling Process
The primary objective of soil sampling is to provide a representative sample of the fertility within the field.
Based on the variability throughout the field, the number of acres per sample will vary.
If soils are similar in texture, slope, previous crop and production practices, then the number of acres per sample can increase.
If soils within a field are variable, than those areas can be sampled separately to determine the needs in those specific areas.
Most research suggests that growers choose 15 to 20 random areas to be sampled within the field.
These individual areas should have multiple cores taken at six to eight inches deep for common soil samples.
The cores can be collected using any number of tools available for this purpose.
Field composite samples, normally 8 to 16 oz. of soil, can be co-mingled and then a sample of the collection is sent to the lab.
If the field is divided into different zones, repeat the process for each zone. Samples need to be labeled for tracking purposes. Field maps can help with tracking.
Once samples are collected, they can be submitted to a local university or commercial lab via their submission guidelines. Charges for the samples will vary depending upon the testing requested.
What Will We Learn From the Samples?
The more data collected, the more information growers will have available to help them make decisions. With soil sampling, an abundance of data is available, but for growers the most valuable information will boil down to five broad groups:
Organic Matter – The measurement of plant and animal residue in soil, which often serves as a reserve for nutrients.
Soil pH – A measure of acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Soil pH can affect nutrient availability.
Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) – measures the soil’s ability to hold cationic nutrients. CEC can also be used as an indicator of soil texture.
Nitrate-N – This form of nitrogen is water-soluble and is readily available for plant uptake. This information will help growers determine nitrogen needs.
Extractable Macro and Micro Nutrients – These results provide the essential nutrients that are available to the plant. Normally listed in parts per million, these results can help to determine nutrient applications needed by the crop to produce maximum economic yield.
As growers and their nutrient advisors receive more information about these five areas, they will be able to make more informed fertility decisions. They will also be able to address potential issues during the early stages to help attain their overall goal of achieving better yields.