Data changes thinking on the farm

Data changes thinking on the farm

I just returned from the Farm Progress Show with even more confirmation that farmer adoption of data services will be a huge game-changer. Several innovative/early adopter farmers I spoke with (who are playing with nitrogen management services from DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto/Climate Corp. and others) have found great knowledge from the data, while being realistic about current data accuracy.

Farmer highlights so far:

  • Seeing N availability change after rain is eye-opening.
  • The data proves that less N should be applied in the fall.
  • The data suggests sidedress-N amounts can lift return on investment.
  • This technology delivers greater insight by field and zones.
  • It provides quicker response than the usual N tests.
  • It should help achieve the 4 Rs of nutrient stewardship (right source, right rate, right time, right place).
  • Fertilizer planning tools help run various scenarios to improve testing by field to achieve fertility efficiency.
  • This technology can change a practice away from heavy fall-applied anhydrous to using other N sources split-applied in the spring and throughout the growing season.
  • It can drive farmers to prescription-apply every acre based on valuable data — to cut costs and maximize yield.

These farmers acknowledged that the current models are not perfect, but they do provide great ballpark data that helps you head in the right direction. And they appreciate companies that continually improve their models.

I love to talk with these farmers who are genuinely passionate and excited about this technology and data. They firmly believe this type of service will change their farming practices — to help them become better stewards of the land and water while improving their profits. I applaud their efforts.

We will continue to bring you farmer experience with these services, similar to the story in this issue on Page 28 (Variable-rate N program tested). And check out our past stories by clicking on the “Fertilizer” tab at

Why promote 500-bushel corn?

Thanks for the pro and con comments on my August Think Different column ( Please, join the conversation online. I hope farmer members encourage their associations to consider including a fertilizer-efficiency category in yield contests, given parameters that would make it fair for different soil organic matter/soil health levels. After all, doesn’t everyone want to become more efficient and gain greater ROI — while improving environmental benefits? Farmers also would learn more about specific genetics that deliver greater N efficiency.

I sincerely thank you for reading, for viewing more valuable content on, for subscribing to our newsletters, and for being willing to Think Different.

TAGS: Fertilizer
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