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Data and demos — the best of both worlds

Answer Plot program creates statistical research results while providing producers in-season, hands-on visits
By Sarah Geyer 5/26/2017

 

With three locations in Tennessee – Bells, Manchester, and Greenfield – and one 30 miles north of Clarksville in Hopkinsville, Ky., WinField United’s Answer Plot program offers farmers local agronomic, seed, and crop protection expertise, strategies, and extensive data with in-season, hands-on visits and a comprehensive, research-based website.
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With a WinField® United Answer Plot® location just a few miles from her Bells farm, Cande Via literally has vital decision-making information at her fingertips. Not only can the fifth-generation row crop and livestock producer see firsthand the progress of the plot’s 3,000 side-by-side trials, but she can also access the program’s extensive database with just the touch of a screen.

As a farmer striving to maximize every acre, Cande says seeing is definitely a big part of believing, especially when it’s backed up with research.

“When I decided to really push the population on my irrigated field, I wanted to make sure I was planting the best hybrid for a high seeding rate,” says Cande. “So Rick [Wilson of Mid-South Farmers Cooperative] and I headed out to the Answer Plot.”

During their visits, Cande discovered the best seed variety for high population seeding under a pivot. She also identified the best rate for her field and was even motivated to try something new — applying nitrogen through fertigation.

“The [Answer Plot] data shows that CROPLAN corn hybrid 6640 has been one of the most responsive and best yielding options over various soil types including both irrigated and non-irrigated conditions,” she says, adding that the hands-on experience sealed the deal. “It meant a lot to see how it compared to the others firsthand, grown under conditions like my farm. We’ve also decided to add [CROPLAN hybrid] 5290, a drought guard variety, this year after seeing how it performed last season.”

“Being able to take farmers to see the plot offers our customers and those of us at the Co-op an added comfort level when making decisions based on data,” says Rick. “While it’s one thing to read the statistics about a product, watching that plant thrive firsthand is much more powerful. The CROPLAN brand is really impressive in the side-by-side trials, and I think having access to an Answer Plot is the main reason it’s our top-selling variety.”

The Alamo agronomist says that since the plots include genetics from CROPLAN, Dekalb, Asgrow, NK, and Mycogen, the data collected from each year’s trials creates unbiased research results for products by WinField United, its partners, and its competitors, equipping local Co-op agronomists and their customers with extensive data for decision making.

“It’s not about the brand,” says WinField United agronomist Darrin Holder. “It’s about being able to find what is best for the growers. With those five genetics, there’s not an acre we don’t have the best solution for — corn, soybeans, or cotton.”

The original purpose of the program, which began in 1998 with a handful of 20-acre sites in Iowa, was to demonstrate the traits of WinField United’s seed genetics, explains Darrin, and to show how the hybrids responded to changes in population, nitrogen, soil types, and various stresses.

“In a short period of time, the feedback [about the Answer Plot program] let us know that there was a huge need for information about placement and management of genetics in the marketplace,” says Darrin. “Since we were renting this ground anyway and had all of the equipment, we decided to expand the program and create a data engine that will support what we’re showing. Over the years, the plots have blossomed into more than just hybrids and varieties. Now we have trials that include fertility, herbicides, adjuvants, biologicals, and seed treatments, to name a few, and we usually add something new each season.”

This year, data will be collected from roughly 30,000 trials conducted on 206 sites located in 33 states, including Answer Plot locations in Tennessee — in Bells, Manchester, and Greenfield, and another 30 miles north of Clarksville in nearby Hopkinsville, Ky.

“The Answer Plot research concept is so much more than just which variety to plant next year,” says Kevin Eye, vice president of agronomy and product development at WinField United. “It’s about a total agronomic system, placing the right seed in the right environment. It’s about having the customer come here and see that we can deliver more expertise than anyone else.”

During the season, says Kevin, the plots create a visual representation of the value of choosing high-yield potential seeds and incorporating the right combination of products and crop management, including macro and micronutrients, seed treatments, crop protection, and seed population strategies. After harvest, the results become part of an extensive statistical storehouse.

“In the last 19 years, the Answer Plot program has created thousands of trials and millions of data points to provide farmers with trusted information to help farmers sort through all of the options and confidently choose the best solutions for their fields,” says Kevin. “We strive to help simplify the complex decisions that farmers make each season.”

WinField United designs each year’s new trial scenarios based on regional needs and issues as well as emerging technologies and techniques.

For the Southeast region, the 2017 corn trials will include nitrogen management, says Darrin, including the best options for applications and methods for stabilization.

“[With these trials], we’ll be looking at the value of inputs individually as part of a system — a key scenario for growers trying to manage with commodity prices, he says. “We’re hoping to answer some of the farmers’ cost-cutting questions, like ‘What happens if I take one input completely away [as compared to] if I take a little bit of everything away?’”

Soybean trials for the Tennessee region will focus on new technologies, says Darrin, such as testing herbicide program options while staying on-label, including pre- and post-emergent combinations, and cataloging the effects of dicamba applications in varying percentages on non-resistant beans.

“In addition to helping growers manage herbicides as part of a system, we want to train the local sellers about the visual symptomologies of the varying rate-percentage applications,” says Darrin. “If a grower does experience off-target movement, the seller will have a better understanding of how to assess damage and anticipate if a crop will recover and if yield will suffer.”

Many Answer Plot locations this year will also include a purely visual test section designed to illustrate the various modes of action on grasses and broadleaf of other chemistries on the market.

Although the trials on WinField United’s 206 sites vary from year to year and region to region, Kevin says the Answer Plot program’s objective remains consistent — “placing the right seed in the right environment with the right combination of products and management.”

“Our program helps growers determine the best crop management practices aimed to deliver maximum results from their field, whether it involves protecting high-yield areas or attempting to increase yields on their toughest acres,” he explains. “We’re dedicated to helping growers get the most from every acre, which includes arming growers with information on all aspects of crop production.”

Growers who are interested in visiting an Answer Plot location should check with their local Co-op manager or agronomy specialist for opportunities to tour the nearest site. For more information about the Answer Plot program, visit www.answerplot.com.

Answer Plot, CROPLAN, and WinField are registered trademarks, and WinField United is a trademark of Winfield Solutions, LLC.

 
 
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