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Seeing potential yield

By simulating a crop’s future growth, WinField United’s new R7 Field Forecasting Tool models optimal timing for in-season applications
By Sarah Geyer 1/25/2018


WinField United’s R7® Field Forecasting Tool is the future of in-season management, providing agronomists like First Farmers Cooperative’s Cole Delong, second from left, and WinField United’s Andrew Laney, far right, with a program that can help farmers like Tim Reed, left, and Carol Bain, third from left, of Savannah, get accurate predictions for optimal timing and rates for nutrient and water applications in-season. This new web-based crop modeling tool uses field-specific information, as well as data from the Answer Plot® Program and NutriSolutions 360® system to simulate daily crop growth.
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Each year, most farmers’ main goals are to increase yields and profits, and precision ag technology has played a key role in helping those producers identify bushel-gaining opportunities.

While technology has provided farmers with invaluable knowledge concerning the “what” and “how much,” without knowing future weather and field conditions, the “when” has remained elusive.

With the recent release of the R7®  Field Forecasting Tool, the web-based crop modeling program from WinField United is equivalent to a farmer’s scientific-based crystal ball.

“We want to help the farmer achieve optimum yield,” says Joel Wipperfurth,  WinField United ag technology applications lead. “Through satellite imagery and tissue testing, we’re using the plant as the sensor in the field.  Combined with the additional knowledge of specific parameters like soil type, nitrogen availability, previous-year crop and previous-year yield, it’s possible to look ahead.”

WinField United’s newest tool creates a simulation of the crop’s daily growth progression. The farmer can view how many heat units the plant has received, how much moisture is available, the amount and ratio of nutrients present, and the crop’s predicted yield.

And that’s just the basics of this tool’s capabilities. Want to see how the yield will change with an in-season application?  Choose an input, like water or nitrogen, enter a period of time, and a range of units by intervals. For example, a 25-day period divided into five-day increments and with a nutrient applied in units ranging from 10 to 50 in 10-unit intervals.

Based on these parameters, the program will generate 25 scenarios, each with a predicted yield impact.  Include current market price, input and application costs, and the program will calculate the monetary gain or loss for each scenario, too. And the color-coded graph allows the farmer to easily identify the exact window of time and amount of nutrient for the in-season application to produce optimum yield results.

“The big takeaway here, especially for corn producers, is that it helps answer the million dollar questions: How much nitrogen do I have in the field, and is it enough to sustain my crop?” says Cole Delong, agronomist with First Farmers Cooperative.  “When it comes to corn, nitrogen has a big impact on final yield. Because both nitrogen and soil have negative charges, the nutrient can’t be stored in the soil and is easily depleted. For most farmers, their nitrogen application practices have been based on tradition and trial and error. But the  Field Forecasting Tool has changed that. By combining data with plant science, it has taken the guess work out of in-season applications.”

“Those farmers, especially the younger generation, who enjoy working with the newest technology tool might be a little disappointed that an agronomist is needed to run the Field Forecasting Tool program,” says Andrew Laney,  technology manager with WinField United. “The good news is, unlike most precision ag tools, the farmer doesn’t need high-tech expertise or equipment to benefit from  Field Forecasting Tool.  All that’s required is a few minutes with the Co-op agronomist or WinField United rep to discuss the results.”

While most producers who will use the new tool are tech-savvy, admits Andrew, the Field Forecasting Tool makes precision ag more easily accessible for farmers like Carol Bain and Tim Reed of Savannah, lifelong friends and neighbors who have raised row crops together for 25 years.

“We’re far behind with technology,” says Carol, adding that the pair figures yield from delivery tickets because their combines don’t have yield monitors. “But we’re always looking for ways to increase yields, so when Cole explained that it would help us monitor nutrients and plant growth in season, we figured we’d give it a try.”

To build the tool’s information foundation, Cole took soil texture samples of the field, entering into the program the percentage of sand, silt, and clay, organic matter, along with soil pH, cation exchange capacity, and potassium levels are entered into the program.  Crop hybrid, yield, and tillage practices from the previous season are also added to the model. After the crop was planted in mid-April, he included information on the hybrid, planting date, and any pre-planting applications. During the season, Cole pulled tissue samples to confirm and calibrate the program’s crop growth simulation.

Since they planted the field in mid-April, Cole began running scenarios to schedule the second shot of nitrogen to be applied before a deficiency occurred. The program identified a four-day period when application would produce optimal yield results.

“I ran the model again a few days before and the optimal time period had changed slightly,” he says. “Because the model tracks the crop so closely, the optimal application time will change based on the nitrogen source used and the weather. We were applying urea treated with Nutrisphere so the model automatically added a few days to allow time for the nitrogen to be available.”

Tim and Carl say they were pleased with their results.

“I’ll use it again and would recommend it too,” says Tim. “I was really amazed at how accurate the tracking was, from the amount of rain we got to how many bushels we’d make. A month out it showed we’d make 230 and we ended up making 215.”

“With their newest precision-ag creation, WinField United continues to provide innovative ag solutions for our farmers,” says Alan Sparkman, agronomy marking director for Tennessee Farmers Cooperative. “And Co-op agronomists are looking forward to using this tool as they continue to help their customers make the best decisions for their operations.”

Learn more about the Field Forecasting Tool by visiting or contact your local Co-op or WinField United representative.

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