Cotton farmers in Arkansas are able to apply fertilizer and lime more efficiently and economically, and in today’s environment for production agriculture, that is a true benefit.
Arkansas cotton producer Len B. Nall began using variable rate technology (VRT) two years ago.
“We’re about 98 percent irrigated,” says Nall, who farms near Lake City. “In this area with our soil types, irrigation and inputs, we can expect to average 1,150 to 1,200 pounds, sometimes 1,300 pounds, per acre. Since VRT helps make our yields more uniform across the field, we hope we can get higher yields.”
Another Lake City producer, Greg Garner, agrees.
“What I saw last year and this year is that the cotton was a little more consistent through the field, a little more uniform throughout the year,” Garner says. “Judging just a visible yield difference, I’d say it could be a bale per acre variance in the field. With VRT we hope to close that variance across the field.
“Every farmer has spots in his fields where he’s not sure what’s wrong. Variable rate technology helps correct problem spots and makes our fields more uniform.”
Nall agrees and says that the underproductive spots in the field aren’t nearly as obvious as they were before he started us-ing some form of variable rate technology.
VRT helps these Arkansas producers apply their fertilizer and lime more efficiently and economically. They can now put potash and phosphate exactly where they are needed instead of making a blanket application across the entire field. That results in a significant savings in fertilizer costs.
“We take it one step further with lime,” says Nall. “If I’m going to lime a 40-acre field, I used to put out two tons per acre, totaling 80 tons on the field. However, when we switched to variable rate, we found that we might need only 20 tons of lime over the whole field.”
When Nall and Garner began using VRT two years ago, they chose Strike Zone, which is a consultant-designed program that provides site-specific grid sampling and variable rate prescriptions for dealers, consultants and producers. Strike Zone’s benefits include expertise on software and equipment purchases; customizable equation writing; support in equipment and software set-up; and fast, reliable in-field tech support.
Nall’s and Garner’s input dealer, Ritter Agribusiness, began working with the Strike Zone program three years ago.
“Strike Zone helps us reallocate fertilizer and lime to where they’re really needed, and it has increased our application business,” says Travis Lung, VRT Lead for Ritter Agribusiness, who lives in Marked Tree, Ark.
Other dealer benefits include dealer support for VRT, less labor, tech support, contract sampling service and dedicated Web sites for application files. Dan Kennedy, general manager of Ritter Agribusiness, says another advantage is not having to hire more employees to provide a VRT program.
“The Strike Zone people are already familiar with our customer base, so it was easy to begin working with them,” says Kennedy, who lives in Jonesboro.
Garner suggests that a producer who wants to try VRT for the first time use it on 50 percent of his acreage.
For more information, interested persons can call (877) 336-8262 or visit www.strikezoneag.com.
Strike Zone contributed information for this article.