Q: What is Precision Agriculture?
A: Precision Agriculture is a strategic, targeted approach to farming. It is based on the fact that no two fields are alike. It is about putting your management efforts - and your inputs - where they’ll have the most impact. The ultimate goal is to allow you to be more efficient. More effective. More sustainable. And more profitable.
Q: What are the main advantages of precision agriculture?
A: Precision Agriculture can help you farm more efficiently and make your inputs go further. Benefits include:
More efficient use of inputs
More uniform maturity
Improved sample quality
Greater understanding of fields
More accurate farm records
Q: Why should I use Precision Agriculture on my farm?
A: With the high cost of inputs, farmers have to be smarter about where they spend their money. Every piece of land is different. What works well on Acre A will not necessarily be ideal for Acre B.
Variable Rate allows growers to strategically determine optimal input rates across cropland to get the greatest return on investment. It allows you to accurately vary input rates, using technology that is available on most farm equipment.
Alternatively, a major amendments program allows you to increase yield on underperforming land. With rising land costs, buying isn’t always an option. However, a small investment into improving land through a lime, gypsum or water management strategy can pay off.
Q: What Precision Agriculture Services does Point Forward Solutions offer?
A: We provide Variable Rate solutions through our comprehensive Zone Management Program and associated services (which includes electrical conductivity, topography mapping, custom soil testing, yield data analysis and imagery).
We can test soil pH and organic matter levels using our Veris MSP Mapping. This can determine the necessity for a Major Amendment. In addition, Point Forward offers a Water Management Program, Field Record Services, Agronomic Consulting, Equipment Consulting and Carbon Aggregation.
Q: What role do Point Forward’s retail partners play in the process?
A: Locally-based full-service retailers are a farmer’s best friend. Retail agronomists have strong relationships with their customers, and are actively involved in making recommendations throughout the growing season. Their knowledge of individual farms, local growing conditions and localized challenges makes them invaluable.
Point Forward Solutions has partnered with several retailers, allowing them to provide precision agriculture as part of their full service offering.
We have the experience and technical expertise. We have the equipment. We collect, analyze and interpret the data to develop a better understanding of each field - and devise recommendations around optimal input levels.
Ultimately, we do the “heavy lifting” so the retailers don’t have to. The knowledge we glean serves to support the ongoing management strategy of the retail agronomist… and inform his (or her) decisions moving forward.
This cooperative approach allows us to harness the science of precision agriculture with practical local knowledge. For growers, it’s a win-win combination.
Q: Do I need special equipment to use Precision Agriculture?
A: If you have bought a tractor, seeding, spraying or harvesting equipment in the past 10-years, chances are that you already have everything you need built-in. If not, we can advise on 3rd party solutions.
Q: What is the cost benefit of implementing a fertility program?
A: Based on our ongoing follow-up analysis with clients, using check strips as our guide, we have found our fertility program typically provides a 3.7:1 return on investment.
Q: Does one size fit all?
A: The name says it all. Precision Agriculture is specific to each field. As such, it is a solution tailored specifically to your cropland and your needs.
Q: What information do you need from me?
A: We will meet with you before we begin to learn as much about your fields as we can. It would be helpful if you could provide:
Information on the inputs you’ve been using
Q: What time of year do you conduct field mapping? Is it done before or after harvest?
A: Generally, we find the best time to collect field data is post harvest or the early winter.
Q: How long does it take to EC map a field?
A: With our EM38 system we are able to map 100-120 acres/hour.
Where specialized information is required we can utilize the Veris MSP system, which maps at a rate of 35-40 acres/hour.
Q: Can I just get you to survey one field and I can apply the results to the others?
A: No two fields are the same. Precision Agriculture measures these small differences and allows you to adjust your rates accordingly. Our customers usually start by having us do a small percentage of acres in the first season.
By the second season they are eager to do more.
Q: Can the input recommendations you devise for a field be entered into my onboard GPS system so it communicates with my equipment? Is this easy to do?
A: You bet. We will provide the information in the format you require. If you’re not familiar with using your Variable Rate system, we are pleased to help you get everything up and running.
Q: Is this a one-time thing or do I need to do anything else in following years?
A: Some elements of the programs only need to be done once (such as electrical conductivity mapping). Others are recommended on a yearly basis. This includes annual soil testing, as well as strategic recommendations based on crop type, yield goals and soil test analysis.
Q: I’m not very good at this technical stuff. Can you work with my custom applicator to ensure they get everything they need?
Q: Is electrical conductivity mapping (EC) more effective than satellite imagery?
A: >In a word, yes. EC mapping is conducted in the soil itself, providing a real ground truth in terms of soil structure, salinity, and topography; whereas a satellite map simply measures biomass – which can be skewed by environmental factors such as frost, insect pressure, excess weeds, etc.
How do I know I’m getting the results I want?
A: We show you. Each farm includes multiple check-strips at traditional fertilizer rates that cover various fertility zones so that you get a true representation of results, per field. Yield data is then provided and compared to the check-strips to provide true ROI outputs, and a clear picture on the VRT benefit on your farm.
Where do I even start?
A: It’s in our hashtag: #strongdatastrongstart . Give us a call to get a jump on next season.