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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Farm Futures Summit Day 2

Farm Futures Summit Day 2 offered two business tracks and one technical track.  I stuck with the technical track.  Kelly Robertson opened the day with a discussion about the pitfalls of precision agriculture.  He spent much of his time talking about problems with yield.  I have previously discussed the need for careful calibration in order to collect valid data.  In addition, randomized plots are much better to collect research data than strip trials.  Another common pitfall is ending up with more than one variable.  One variable means that you will find out what you want to know.  Kelly says also be sure to push the limits on your variable.

John Mcguire got into the nuts and bolts of what can be done to analyze your data.  John suggests that the most important thing to look at in site specific farming is profitability. Any variable rate technology used should be used to fix a problem.  If variability in fertility is not a problem in your fields, then there is no use applying fertilizer with variable rate. 

Bruce Erickson's presentation went more along the lines of where we are headed.  Some time was spent on ideal sizes for management zones.  Erickson says that the size of effective management zones is limited by the spacial density of measurement or application whichever is greater.  In other words, you cannot manage more closely than you can measure, and there is no need to measure any more closely than you can apply the technology. 

All three speakers had a panel discussion.  They suggested that the order of preference for implementation is, guidance systems, nozzle shutoffs and planter shutoffs, and lastly, yield monitors.  They seemed to think that variable rate fertilizer fits in with the shutoff technology. Variable rate seeding and variable rate nitrogen may be difficult to implement at this time. 

Moe Russell presented in the afternoon and shared some tools to look at areas to improve in management styles. Self analysis can be very difficult. 

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