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Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Grid sampling

Attended a precision meeting this morning where they are really starting to preach precision application in this area.  I imagine with our rainfall or lack there of has led us in this area to be a few of the last ones to adopt these practices into our operations.

 

I have nothing against moving forward and spending a few dollars on what is best suited for me and even better for the sustainability of my acres.  Those of you that are variable applying products, what do you feel is the best return on you dollar spent?  Is it applying less to the areas that don't return or is it applying more to the areas that can utilize it?

 

I was under the assumption that variable rate application would theoritically even my fields out so each area would yield the same.  After attending this meeting I no longer think like this.  I'm a believer now that the less productive areas need to be managed to what our history tells us are their max, and the more productive areas need to be managed differently to max out their production.

 

Any thoughts on how long it will take to start seeing results, and is it something I should consider on every acre the first year or should I consider a several year entry approach to spread out the initial investment?

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SpringBrookFarm
Veteran Contributor

Re: Grid sampling

Shaggy, I work for a soil sampling company that specializes in doing grid sampling. Im not going to try to sell you a product, but explain why we think it works and try to answer a few of your questions.

 

On our own farm we have always been reserved as far as inputs due to cost and because of our drought situation the past few years. But i decided to do 2.5 acre grids on a few of our own acres. Im glad I did. And because I did it on a few acres im doing it on all my acres. The information i gained was very detailed and very helpful. I am now totally convinced that pulling a few samples and mixing them into a composite for a full field view is a waste of time and money. Its completly worthless. The amount of difference that we have in our fields is to great for a composite to work. By mixing samples from different parts of the field completly ruins any chance of an accurate sample.

 

Grid sampling has been slow to be adopted in the drier regions and i agree that its because the drought and a lower profit margin. But i really believe now that dryland is one of the BETTER places for it. We cannot afford to continue to place fertilizer where it doesn't need to be, and we cannot afford to give up yeild because of the lack of nutrients. 

 

I agree, it used to be we thought we could achieve even yields throughout a field with accurate prescriptions. But soils don't work that way. Some soils are higher producing then others no matter how many nutrients you throw at them. One great way to get that information is yield maps. Using several years of yield data you can get a better picture of where those areas are at. Most farmers can tell you where the good and bad is, but most are quite surpirsed how big the differences are and how wide of spreads. I have seen fields where only small portions of the field were what really made the yield. But not everyone has yield maps and thats ok.

 

How much should you do the first year? It all depends. How committed to it are you? Do you just want to try it or do you want go full bore? Ive seen guys do their whole farm in one shot. Ive seen guys just do a quarter or two at first.  One thing that you need to be prepared for is increasing your fertility, most dont get sticker shock when they have already been progressive with their fertility program, but for those who have been skimping can be in for a surprise when they get the results back, then they want to back down from the grid sampling because the fertility cost so much. On our own acres we didnt spend much more on fertility then we usually do, it was just spread out more evenly where it was needed.

 

Alot of farmers speed money on the latest fufu joice or snake oil to try and increase their yield, hopeing for that 2 bushel gain that was promised. They spend their money on those when they dont have the correct fertility to begin with, or they dont have a clue what they really even need in fertility. Spread over four years or a crop rotation grid sampling is pretty cheap information to have.

 

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ECIN
Senior Advisor

Re: Grid sampling

Shaggy - I think that SBF did a Very good job in this thoughts on Grid sampling - SBF good job .

 

The only thing SBF is that in the first few years my Fert. bill went down instead of up and the reason was what you posted near the top - The junk samples that over the years was dumping on fert. in areas that did not need them .

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Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Grid sampling

Thanks guys I appreciate your comments.  I'm fully commited, but lets just say I might not be fully able.  I do use a consulting service that offers this program.  Usually 1/3 of my acres are left fallow each year so I might use a 3 year approach to getting the farm completely zoned.  If I do my fallow acres now, I will be able to utilize a prescription on acres going into wheat this fall.  I might even do 2/3 this year and catch the acres going into milo a year from now after I get the 2014 wheat harvested, that would shorten the whole thing by a year. 

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