For the most part, precision ag and variable rate application of inputs took off in the Midwest in a big way before the technology translated into tools that could be used successfully by cotton producers.
Aerial images of fields to identify variability in the soils, variable rate application rigs for applying such inputs as fertilizer, plant growth regulators and defoliants and yield maps that help identify whether what you’re doing is or is not working on your farm are a few examples of the different types of technology that are being used in cotton operations today.
To refresh your memory about how cotton producers are using variable rate technology in the Southeast, go to www.cottonfarming.com and read the archived article by our Southeast editor Amanda Huber from the February 2010 issue.
The article is titled “Precision Ag Shows It Can Work In The Southeast,” and a portion of the story specifically addresses variable rate application.
Here’s what Jay Holder of Holder Ag Consulting in Ashburn, Ga., has to say on the subject.
“In the last five years, I have seen more interest in sampling by zone and even from producers who have their own trucks for variable rate applications,” he says. “We are getting to where we can variable-rate nearly everything. I even know a producer who plans to use variable rate to plant his seed this year.”
Holder says he also knows some producers who are planning to buy boom control technology to make variable spray applications.
“I don’t know the cost of the equipment, but if you run across enough acres, then it will eventually save you money,” he says.
Center Pivot VRI
Producers also are being encouraged to take another look at variable rate irrigation (VRI) with a center pivot. In years past, this type of technology had its challenges and was not considered economically feasible.
Recently, however, Valley Irrigation entered into an agreement with Computronics Holdings Ltd., manufacturer of the patented Farmscan Variable Rate Irrigation technology. The Farmscan 7000 VRI controller is commercially available as an “add-on” to a center pivot and touts a more affordable price.
Calvin Perry, with the University of Georgia, says the controller works with the center pivot to deliver water more efficiently. It uses the pressure from the main line of the pivot, so an air compressor is not needed as it was in the past.
Other improvements include easier installation, ruggedness, reliability and the use of USB memory sticks to move programs back and forth from a computer to the field.
In June, we polled our readers to gauge their interest in using today’s variable rate technology to improve their bottom lines. After the votes were tallied, 39 percent say “Yes,” 32 percent say “No,” and 29 percent say “It depends.”
One respondent says, in his opinion, the technology has the potential to be more helpful to producers as dealer education about the precision ag and variable rate application products they are selling becomes more prevalent.
Eyeballing Your 2010 Crop
In the August Web Poll, we’re asking our readers to take a look at their crop at this point in the season and rate it excellent, good, fair or poor. We also welcome any comments regarding factors that may have contributed to the crop’s condition.
When commenting, please identify the area in which you farm so everyone will have an idea of what is happening across the Belt.
To cast your vote and share your comments, please go to the Web Poll on www.cottonfarming.com. The results of the August poll will be reported in the Cotton Farming October issue.
Web Poll Results
In June, we asked: Are you realizing a healthier bottom line today by using variable rate application of fertilizer, plant growth regulators, defoliants, water, etc. than you did in the past when you may have tried using variable rate technology?
• Yes — 39 %
• No — 32 %
• It Depends — 29 %
August Web Poll Question
How would you rate your cotton crop at this point in the season? When commenting on factors contributing to your crop’s condition, please IDENTIFY YOUR AREA of the Cotton Belt so we’ll know where you are.
Register your vote at www.cottonfarming.com
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